A Business and a Home: The BlackHorse Farm Committed to Bride, Client, and Horse

Amanda Gilmore

    As a little girl growing up in rural Boyd County, Jessica Lucas-Adkins traveled State Route 854 in Rush most every day, her face pressed against the window as the school bus wound its way along the curvy road. There wasn’t a whole lot to see – some old houses, overgrown fields, a few animals.
    Flash forward two decades, and Jessica is starting a family with her new husband, Chris Adkins. The couple discusses where to build their home. “And I remember seeing this place from the bus, and thinking how I would like to live here, how it would be a great place to raise our kids,” said Jessica, standing in the middle of the 40 acres that is now their home and their business, The BlackHorse Farm. “I never could have imagined then what we have here now.”
    What the Adkinses have built together is a beautiful, thriving Kentucky horse farm that has become an extremely popular wedding and event destination in the northeastern part of the state. “Since we started (four years ago), we have only had two free weekends,” Jessica said. “It’s been incredible.”
    Incredible is one word that brides use frequently to describe their wedding day at The Blackhorse Farm. Fairy tale, dream and amazing are others.
    “I love how everything here is one stop,” said Christina Church of Ashland, who married Scott Wamsley at The BlackHorse Farm on August 4. “I wanted to get married outside, and we were able to do that. They made it look so wonderful. But having this elegant barn is a wonderful backup plan.”
    The “barn” Church refers to (and which the owners call the Arena) is a 6,000-square foot, climate-controlled space that can seat up to 200 guests for dinner and has a lounge, kitchen, full bath, bridal suite, porch, stamped concrete dance floor, eight chandeliers and a disco ball.
    “We call it the Arena because when there isn’t an event, we ride horses in here,” Jessica explained.
    Chris Adkins, a builder for nearly 30 years and owner of Premier Builders, designed and constructed all of The BlackHorse Farm – much of it at Jessica’s direction. “My motto is, I’m the mule and she loads the wagon,” Chris laughs.
    “Chris is so smart. I don’t know what he can’t do,” Jessica counters.
    A 28-stall horse barn was the first thing Chris built – after the family home, of course. At the time, the only horse they had was Jessica’s black and white mare, Stella. But, now the barn is full, with horses, ponies and even a camel (more on that later). They offer horse riding lessons for beginners, as well as pony parties (their place or yours), and riding on two-and-a-half miles of well-maintained trails.
    The family owns Tennesee walking horses, mostly black ones, which is where The BlackHorse Farm name originated. Then, a bit of research they conducted on the property solidified the choice. “We found a very interesting court case that shows a lengthy and public dispute between the land owner of our farm and other Rush residents dating back to the Civil War era,” Jessica said. The dispute, it turns out, was over a black mare.
    After the family and the horses were under roof, Chris went to work on the massive indoor Arena. “He built and designed this entire place in a year and a half,” Jessica said.
    Having such a large indoor space with heating and air conditioning means events can take place at The BlackHorse Farm pretty much year-round. “We have lots of weddings in November and December.” The Adkinses also host functions for their church, LifeSong Church in Russell, which often also serve as community outreach projects, such as an annual Easter Egg Hunt. Last December, Jessica and Chris organized and created a living nativity program called “A Night in Bethlehem” at their farm. Remember the camel mentioned earlier? Abraham was purchased from a camel breeder in Georgetown for the Bethlehem event and is now a permanent resident of The BlackHorse Farm.
    Throughout the year, groups of area school children come out for Farm Day, where they learn about caring for and riding horses, and what it takes to run a horse farm. The couple’s two children, Luca, five and Lane, three, are always excited to show off their home, especially their own ponies. “We let our daughter name the palomino pony. She decided to name it Tom Adkins (no relation). We go to walking horse shows, and it’s funny when they announce her: ‘Luca Adkins riding Tom Adkins,’” Jessica said.
    Not only are the children learning all about horses, and how to prepare for weddings and other big events, they also help their dad with his huge garden. “I hope my kids will want to do this when they are older. We built all this with them in mind,” Jessica said.
    Many of the employees at The BlackHorse Farm also work for Chris at nearby Diamond Links Golf Course, which he purchased in the spring of 2017. They may not have known that much about horses when they started but have quickly become experts learning from Chris, who owned his first horse (a black one, coincidentally) at age five.
    The “amazing employees” are one of three reasons the business has done so well, Jessica said. The couple’s high energy/motivation level is another, but the biggest reason is Debbie Lucas, whom her daughter calls “my maintainer” and “the best mom in the whole world.”
“This place has come so far, in such a short time. We have been so blessed,” Jessica said.
    Kentucky has about 450 horse farms, a large number of which have opened in the past few years. The Adkinses say they were fortunate to get established ahead of the trend.
    In the future, The BlackHorse Farm will also include a B&B geared specifically for horse owners with six guest rooms on the upper level and stalls below. Overnight guests will be welcome to take their horses out on the farm trails.
    “I don’t see it slowing down one bit,” Jessica said. “And that’s fine by us.”