first published in the July 2019 Equiery
by Carrie Hull
Maryland has enjoyed acclaim and notoriety over the years, even centuries, as one of the most successful horse communities in the country. During a recent Maryland Horse Industry Board meeting, the Maryland Horse Council was fortunate enough to visit Whitehall Manor (Annapolis), an estate where George Washington kept his horses, and one of the original three land tracts responsible for the establishment and home of the Maryland Jockey Club.
Did you know that the Maryland Jockey Club is the oldest sporting association in all of North America? Not just the United States, all of North America! While the history and role of the horse and its relation to people, industry, and sport has transformed over the years, one thing remains clear. Maryland sets the leading example for the country on how to maintain nearly 300 years of an extraordinarily successful equine industry.
Through the efforts of some of the most preeminent horsewomen and horsemen, the state’s equestrians and equine organizations have joined forces since 2004 to create detailed five-year strategic plans for the community and industry in the form of a one-day Maryland Horse Forum. This year marks the fourth Maryland Horse Forum since its inception and once again, your input is needed.
It is only through your attendance that we can help shape future initiatives, programs, and legislation. We, the horse community and industry, represent “One Common Voice.” Most importantly, it is our responsibility to represent that “One Common Voice” for our Maryland horses.
So many of you took the time to complete our survey and help us prioritize topics for this year. Resoundingly, the Maryland horse community revealed that equine welfare is still its major concern and this topic will be discussed at the Horse Forum. The Maryland Horse Council is proud to continue to address this concern through our program–the Maryland Equine Transition Service (METS). If you have not yet heard of METS or would like more information, please visit their website at www.mdequinetransition.org or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MDEquineTransition/.
To make your voice and your horse’s voice heard, we need you to attend the 2019 Maryland Horse Forum. It will be held August 8th at Goucher College and additional details are provided within this issue.
The venue this year, Goucher College, looks to the future with its newly expanded equestrian center. I know many are concerned about the agricultural, horse and general livestock legacy in the state. Fewer younger generations are involved in our industry. This is a priority for all of the organizations involved in the Horse Forum and this location should provide the inspiration to connect and educate a new generation of industry leaders.
We invite you to bring your entire families, friends, and supporters of the horse community. Introduce your next generation of nieces, nephews, sons, daughters, etc., to the Maryland horse industry as we continue celebrating our successes and planning our future.
Did I mention it’s free to attend and a lovely lunch with be served? The Maryland Horse Council looks forward to seeing you there for this distinguished, unique event that continues to reaffirm Maryland as a national leader in the American equine industry.
Maryland Horse Forum Shape Maryland’s Future
by Ross Peddicord, Maryland Horse Industry Board executive director
Since 2004, the Maryland Horse Industry Board and various partners have held a day-long conference of the state’s horse community every five years (2004, 2009, 2014, 2019) to discuss various issues, assess the current status of the industry and help develop a plan to go forward.
Ideas that have been discussed and pursued have included development of a Maryland Horse Park, a marketing strategy for MHIB, how to deal with the unwanted horse population, land use and much more.
The Forum has also produced leaders. From the MHIB point of view, Ellie Trueman formed a marketing group in 2009 to develop a plan for MHIB. The result? Many of our marketing efforts to date such as our catch phrase “Find A Horse. Find a Friend,” the Touch of Class Awards and the Horse Discovery Center program emanated from that Forum. In 2014 we “discovered” Hope Birsh in a marketing session and she became chair of the Horseland exhibition at the Maryland State Fair, which drew 55,000 visitors last year and will be reprised in August for the fourth straight year.
So it is an extremely beneficial day for all Maryland horse folks. This year we hope new leaders emerge, especially from younger generations, and new programs, ideas and calls to action. Please attend and bring a lot of good energy and thoughts!
Hot Topics at the 2019 Maryland Horse Forum
On August 8 the Maryland horse community will come together once again for the Maryland Horse Forum. Held every five years and hosted by the Maryland Horse Industry Board and various industry partners, the Horse Forum is a day-long conference open to the public to discuss various issues related to Maryland’s horse community. Past forums have helped the state assess the current status of the industry as well as develop strategic plans for future projects.
The Horse Forum is structured in one-hour sessions to focus discussions on various topics. Participants are encouraged to share their concerns, thoughts and ideas. All are welcome to attend! Pre-registration is at: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/mda/267187
This year’s Horse Forum will cover three main issues: perception, promotion and education, horse-keeping and welfare, and land use, legislature and liability.
Perception, Promotion & Education
This Horse Forum track will discuss topics related to general perception of the industry, how to promote the industry and how to educate those new to horses.
Questions such as “What is the current perception of our industry?” and “How does that perception differ from what we know to be true?” will be asked so that those attending will be able to brain storm and share their thoughts. The goal is to bridge the gap between perception and truth.
Also under this topic track is a discussion on how to get more people invested in the horse industry. What might be the barriers some face that are keeping them from participating and how can those already established in the industry help them overcome those barriers?
Recreational riding spaces always seem to be a moving target, with some areas protected from development while others are at risk. One session of this year’s Horse Forum will focus on the importance of maintaining horse trails as well as other public riding facilities.
Education is a key topic at this year’s Horse Forum with a group discussion planned to address what educational activities are currently available as well as what types of educational activities current horse people are looking for. Do these activities serve the needs of the horse community or do new educational opportunities need to be formed?
Horse-keeping & Welfare
From topics related to unwanted horses to keeping our personal horses healthy and happy, this Horse Forum track will address many of the issues surrounding horse health.
One session will specifically be focused on the “unwanted horse” and what programs are currently in place to help transition these horses to new homes. MHIB wants to hear from the horse community in terms of what it feels is working and what more needs to be accomplished.
In addition, MHIB would like to hear from the horse community on where efforts should be concentrated in regards to horse welfare concerns. Are horses being transitioned well? Should efforts be focused more on education or legislation to protect our horses?
Safeguarding our horses against infectious diseases is another topic at this year’s Horse Forum. Communication about outbreaks is key in stopping the spread of infectious diseases. What is the best method of communicating these outbreaks and what else do horse owners need to know about infectious disease spread in general?
A separate session will focus specifically on the welfare and safety of racehorses.
Land Use, Legislature & Liability
Maryland statistically has more horses per square mile than any other state in the country. How do we as a horse community preserve the space to keep our horse farms as horse farms?
Land use and availability is one subtopic under the Land Use, Legislature & Liability section of the Horse Forum. Discussions will include what land preservation options are available in Maryland and how to keep these lands available for future generations.
Another session will focus on existing regulations affecting horse owners. MHIB wants to know what the regulation issues are in various counties. Also this session covers the best ways to address zoning and environmental challenges to horse farms.
Legislation related to horse farms will be the topic of another session, as the industry looks forward to what might be coming up in the next legislative session that affects horse owners. The session will also examine how individual horse owners can be involved in the legislative process.
Finally, a session will revolve around what the biggest issues horse owners and businesses are facing related to insurance and liability. What are the economic challenges with operating a horse business? What help do horse owners and businesses need from the Maryland horse industry?
Why You Need to Attend this year’s Maryland Horse Forum
“The Maryland Horse Forum is our opportunity every five years to set the course for our horse community’s future. It is important for as many members of our community to attend and join efforts to make Maryland the best horse state in the country for our horses, riders and the land we need to pasture and ride our wonderful horses.” – Jane Thery, Chair of the Farm Stewardship Committee for MHC
“The Horse Forum is a great opportunity to network and to hear from a wide range of industry participants. It is also valuable for the feedback that is incorporated in the status report to the State. It is important for your voice to be heard.” – Cricket Goodall, Executive Director of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and Maryland Million