The History of Black Prong
How it all began
In early 2002, Velvehree and Bill Griffis decided to sell the Griffis Hunt Camp - a gem that had been in their family for close to 100 years, located in the Goethe State Forest.
Alan and Maureen Aulson took advantage of this unique real estate opportunity to buy and create a one-of-a-kind facility, bringing together carriage driving enthusiasts, trainers, and champions from all over the world to ride, train, drive, and vacation! The decision accelerated their original plans and schedule from three years to nine months.
Helen Koehler provided great support with the permitting process, plus the coordination of countless details. As President of the Goethe Trail, Inc. [is she still president of this?], a non-profit volunteer-based organization, Helen's comprehensive knowledge comes from her volunteer efforts with the Division of Forestry in the initial planning, designing and marking of the current Trail System.
Greg and Julie Anthony provided the base of operations and shelter when there wasn't any. Throughout the entire process, they were great friends and cheerleaders - helping with several pertinent details, and providing a constant stream of much-appreciated photos and messages via e-mail to communicate progress to the Aulsons in Boston.
Zack Huggins of Huggins Land Clearing, responded instantly to begin the rigorous project of clearing land while leaving just the right amount to preserve a natural look.
George Aulson and Cliff Buttry flew in from Boston to begin laying out grades and concepts until Croft Land Surveyors was brought in to develop accurate dressage grades and property surveys, which included trail and site mapping.
During this early stage, when the site looked like a massive sandbox, Natasha Grigg and Lawrence Poulin came for a site visit to confirm if the place where they planned to train for the winter would meet their needs. Oh, what blind faith they had! We can only imagine their thoughts when we laid out the plans and told them it would be ready in time .
First, the dressage rings were built. The biggest fear was that the grass would not grow, due to drought or other conditions. David Saunders wisely suggested making one ring out of gravel as a precaution. One of our best decisions was to hire W.W. Turf Farm, owned by Bill and Martha Wilson and Wayne Winters. They work wonders with grass, and created so much of the beauty at Black Prong.
When the attention was turned towards the buildings, the contractor originally chosen proved to be the worst and most tragic mistake. The only saving grace was the watchful eyes and guidance of the Levy County Building Department, particularly Rob Corbitt and Wayne Martin, as well as many county officials with the foresight to allow the project to continue. The rescue came from Al Massa for building completion, and Earl Marshall for painting. Both professionals were extremely responsive and sensitive to our needs.
Marc Johnson became the official course designer, flying in on countless weekends to design and shovel the beautiful course that is there today. His visionary design more than satisfied the only criteria- that it be a friendly course for both spectators and visitors!
As the new show hosts, the Aulsons needed the support of seasoned veterans. Louise Stokes patiently and tirelessly worked countless days to coordinate the entire show process, spending many nights at the site after work. It is truly amazing to witness how much organization and coordination of people goes on behind the scenes to make a successful show happen.
During many evenings throughout the holiday season, Susan Gilliland graciously took calls and offered her wise advice and consultation. Holly Pulsifer agreed to be the Technical Delegate (TD) and trusted advisor.
While it is impossible to list the many volunteers and sponsors who helped with the initial show, we extend to them a heartfelt thank you for their support.
Developments for the 2019/2020 Season
Following the purchase of Black Prong by Reid and Sarah Nagle, Clayton Bratcher was appointed Mayor of the village. He oversees the same capable staff who operated the facility for the Aulsons: Tom, Wayne, Denise and Lia.
We currently have several construction projects that will be completed by December 1, 2019. These include a new and improved maintenance area in the South West corner of the property, addition of concrete wash bays to each of the barns, new and upgraded lighting along with a concreted alleyway in the Cypress Barn, 18 upgraded 50 amp pedestals along “The Line” near the bathhouse and pavilion, a chain link fenced dog park with many features, an upgraded water hazard for both carriage events and wedding ceremonies, freshly painted fences, and much more.
Starting in early September 2019 we will begin a significant remodel and addition to the existing pavilion to make it accommodating to our many guests and residents that visit our facility. This will include a larger event space with a state of the art sound system for many different types of presentations and events, a commercial catering kitchen to provide support for the many events that will be held in the future, a business center with computers, a printer and a phone for our guests use, a 3 wall fireplace so guests can enjoy a fire from inside the pavilion, the reading room, or outside on the porch enjoying the fresh air, a sales area that will have convenience items and an assortment of horse lovers knick knacks and the option to purchase feed, hay and bagged shavings that will be delivered right to your stall. Outside of the pavilion, we will be adding a heated commercial swimming pool and spa that are accompanied by an 1800 square foot pool house that has men’s and women’s restrooms, and a fitness center. The construction of these amenities for our guests will likely run into March of 2020 and will be open for use shortly after that.
Welcome to Black Prong Equestrian Village. We sincerely hope you enjoy the grounds and area that have been meticulously designed, built and maintained for your comfort and enjoyment.
Reid and Sarah Nagle
p: (352) 486-1234
Reid and Sarah bought Black Prong at auction in early 2019. Sarah has been a horse person all her life and Reid since 2002. Together they train and race horses while also owning and operating Big Lick Farm, a horse training facility in Morriston, FL.
p: (352) 486-1234
Clayton, pictured with the soon-to-be First Lady, Meghann, is the first inaugural mayor of Black Prong. He has brought a fresh perspective while staying true to everything that Black Prong stood for with the Aulsons.
Tom, a Michigan native, moved to the Bronson area in 2005 and started working for Alan and Maureen Aulson at their Black Prong Equestrian Center. He has been a fundamental part in the development of what Black Prong Equestrian Center is today and will play a vital role in the future development of the new Black Prong Equestrian Village. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling and spending time with family.
Design Events Specialist
p: (407) 883-6430
We’re happy to welcome Brianna Garcia as the newest member of our team. As our Design Events Specialist, Brianna will spearhead any design projects along with events and weddings. She will also be our resident IT manager. In her free time she enjoys nature, sports, and spending time with her animals.
Black Prong Team
Tom, Wayne, Denise, Lia
These four have been with Black Prong long before it came under the ownership of the Nagles. They have given countless hours to help improve and renovate the property.