Another stab at a Maryland Horse Park?

Study Identifies Potential Enhancements to Maryland Equestrian Sites, Activities 

Modernizing aging facilities can increase the economic impact of horse-related events for the State

Today, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced that the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) has released a study commissioned by MDA and the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB) that calls for
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A looming hay crises for Maryland?

Hay 2015: A Dismal Picture

By Lester R. Vough, Forage Crops Extension Specialist Emeritus, University of Maryland

This has been the toughest year for hay making that I have seen in a long time. May was hot and dry–and those hay growers that made a timely first cutting of alfalfa and orchard grass have some really nice hay.  However, the cool, wet spring delayed growth so the May cuttings tended to be below normal yields.

During June and early July there simply wasn’t suitable weather to make hay so any first cutting hay that did get put up during that time period was overmature, rained on, or both.  The first cutting hay made in mid-July or later is so overmature that even without rain during harvest it has low feed value.  For those hay growers who did get a first cutting put up in May, the wet weather in June and early July resulted in the second cutting being overmature with a lot of dead (brown) leaves reducing quality and appearance.

In some areas the weather has gone from one extreme to the other.  Where I live,
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Maryland’s Big Hitch: August 28 – September 7

In November of 2004, Neil Dimmocks set a Guinness World Record when he successfully hitched up and drove 46 Percherons.

That was topped in 2007 with a 48 hitch of Belgians!

Meanwhile, back here in the states, Ross Peddicord, Executive Director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, has pulled off a similar feat – one certainly for the record books: within just a few months, he has harnessed the entire Maryland horse industry to pull of the first “My Maryland Horse Festival” that the Maryland State Fair, from August 28 through September 7.

The 400,000 visitors to the Maryland state fair will be able to see, touch and ride a variety of horses and horse-related activities.

The State Fair already offered 7 days of Thoroughbred racing and daily horse and breed shows, rodeos and horse pulling contests.

_JHA6594But this year, the Board for the Maryland decided that it was time for the Fair to showcase the entire Maryland horse world – and its 35 sporting disciplines, to make it a central feature of this year’s far.

Board member Don Litz, a longtime Maryland horseman and Thoroughbred breeder, took the reins, and with the help of new Fair general manager Andy Cashman, new assistant general manager, Becky Brashear, they reached out to the state’s major horse organizations and conceived the first “My Maryland Horse Festival.”

The Horse Festival will include the established racing and show ring activities, as well as two new components “Horse Land” and the Racetrack Infield “Horse Fest.” (Click here for a map of the grounds for all the equine-related activities.)

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Up on Capitol Hill: Legislation for trail funding & to curb soring

 Congress on Vacation

Although it is officially on the U.S. Congressional Calendar as “District Work Week” (House) or “State Work Period” (Senate), everyone around the Washington, D.C. Beltway knows that it means Congress is on summer vacation. Washington gets really, really quiet this time of the year…

So what DID our fearless federal leaders accomplish before they left for vacation? The talking head pundits will always say, “very little.” But we in the equestrian community want to specifically know if they did anything that is going to affect our horse world. Well, according to the American Horse Council, they did do a few things – one regarding trail funding and the other regarding the intentional soring of horses. Read on!
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The King is in The Hall!

WEB_leatherbury_king_080715_101ALeatherbury inducted into National Racing Hall of Fame

The powers-that-be at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame have finally recognized what Marylanders have known for a long time: King T. Leatherbury is nothing short of a true Hall of Famer.

On August 7, the 82-year-old flat track trainer, with his to-date 6,000 victories, took the podium at
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First 2015 West Niles confirmation in Maryland

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced today, August 10, the first detection of a West Nile virus (WNV) mosquito pool in Maryland in 2015.  On August 5, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) confirmed the presence of WNV in mosquitoes collected by MDA personnel in the City of Bowie (Prince George’s County). 
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Time to do your grant applications!

Over $350,000 has been distributed since the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB),a program within the Maryland Department of Agriculture, launched the program in 2002 – and now it is time for another round of funding!

MHIB will begin accepting grant applications on Aug. 2 for research, educational and promotional projects that support horses or the equestrian community, or develop new opportunities for the Maryland horse industry. Application deadline is Oct. 2.

Among the organizations eligible for MHIB grants are non-profit organizations, clubs and associations, businesses, farms and stables, government entities, schools and educational institutions. Projects of interest to the Board include (but are not limited to) those that develop new opportunities for the Maryland horse industry.

Projects will be evaluated for their value to the industry, degree of industry promotion, size and scope of activity, financial need, potential for matching funds, benefits and quality of the written presentation. Grant requests should not exceed $3,000. The average grant amount is about $1,200. In 2015, 28 projects received $30,000 in grant allocations.

Grant recipients will be announced no later than January 1, 2016. Funding will be available after that date. Projects should be completed by June 30, 2016.

Funding for these grants and for MHIB is provided by the Maryland Feed Fund, which collects $6 on every ton of horse feed sold in Maryland. Since the feed fund was established in 2002, MHIB has awarded nearly $350,000 in grants to more than 275 projects throughout Maryland.

MHIB was established in 1998 to promote and develop the equine industry in Maryland. For grant guidelines, grant applications or more information on MHIB or the Feed Fund, please visit here  or contact MHIB Executive Director Ross Peddicordat 410-841-5798 or email

On The Farm: “Burn, Baby, Burn!” But doing so carefully and legally.

Reprinted from the University of Maryland Ag Law Education Initiative.

1432216940125Burning debris is not an uncommon practice on Maryland farms.  However, there are specific legal requirements related to open air burning that should be understood and followed carefully.

In Maryland, wildfires burn 4,000 acres annually and debris or open air burning is the leading cause of wildfires, accounting for over 29% of all wildfires.  Therefore, the State has enacted legal regulations to control open air burning. State law defines open air burning as “a fire where any material is burned in the open, except small recreational fires such as campfires.”  State law dictates when and how open air burning may occur if it is within 200 feet of woodland or an area where flammable materials are present; if the burning occurs within an incorporated town, the town’s code establishes the legal requirements.

Unless authorized by a permit issued by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), by State law there must be
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Horse Owner charged with felony cruelty after botched euthanasia

On Friday, July 17, the Wicomico County, Maryland State’s Attorney charged Delaware resident Ceba Horsey with one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty and three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty for botching the euthanasia of his horse, which had suffered a broken leg.

According to a press release issued by the Wicomico County Sheriff’s office, on 9 July 2015 a deputy responded to a call regarding an injured horse lying in the grass at boarding stable on Waller Road in Delmar, Maryland (which is on the Maryland-Delaware line).

According to the Sheriff’s office, the horse had broken its leg the previous day, and the owner had apparently told others on the property that he would euthanize the horse himself with an injection. The responding deputy did observe evidence that someone had attempted to inject the horse. However, according to the Sheriff’s office, the horse was still alive and in obvious pain,
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Equine Issues up on Capitol Hill

Maryland may only have a 3-month legislative session, but not so the federal government – and things can heat up in the summertime!

Because of our proximity to the nation’s capital, many Maryland equestrians become activity involved in federal issues.  Here is a quick look at legislation on which the American Horse Council is active this summer

Trails in National Forests

Maryland is one of only ten states that does not have any National Forest – however, many Marylanders do travel other places to enjoy backcountry riding on such trails.

On Thursday, July 16, the Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act of 2015 (S.1110), of which the American Horse Council is in support. The bill would direct the Forest Service to take several actions to help address the current trail maintenance backlog that is adversely impacting all trail users on many national forests, including equestrians. According to AHC, the Forest Service has deferred trail maintenance needs that exceed half-billion dollars. This maintenance backlog is causing access and safety issues for equestrians and all trail users on national forests.

S. 1110 will direct the Forest Service to develop a strategy to more effectively utilize volunteers and partners to assist in maintaining national forest trails and identify and prioritize specific areas with the greatest need for trail maintenance in the national forest system. If successful, this could provide a template for local efforts.

AHC also notes that this bill will help improve trail maintenance without adding to the federal budget deficit and that it is bi-partisan and supported by a wide range of recreational users of public land.

Funding Equine Health & Protecting Horses; Defunding Slaughter

On July 8, 2015, the House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill.  This bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2016 fiscal year (October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016). The bill contains several provisions that impact the horse industry, including funding for USDA equine health activities and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.

Equine Health

The bill would provide $871 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is the USDA agency responsible for protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, including responding to contagious equine disease outbreaks.        Funding for Equine, Cervid, and Small Rumiant health would be set at $19.5 million, this is the same amount that was appropriated in FY 2015.

Horse Slaughter

Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) offered an amendment to prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities that was defeated in a 24-24 vote. Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) spoke in opposition to the amendment.  Such a prohibition would have prevented horse slaughter facilities from operating in the U.S. had it been included in the bill.

Currently, No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the U.S and a prohibition on funding for inspectors at such facilities from last year’s FY 2015 USDA bill remains in effect until September 30, 2015. Once that prohibition expires, USDA will be required to provide inspectors and horse slaughter facilities if any were to open.

A similar defunding amendment could still be offered when the bill is debated by the full House or when the Senate begins work on their version of the USDA appropriations bill.

Horse Protection Act

The bill provides $697,000 for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. This is the same amount that was appropriated in FY 2015.

The bill must now be approved by the full House.

 Foreign Worker Programs

Does your farm, training stable or hunt club depend upon foreign labor?  Do you use the H-2B Visa program? If so, click here to find out what the American Horse Council is doing about proposed new regulations.