first published in the August 2021 Equiery
by Kimberly K. Egan and Corinne M. Pouliquen
The Membership Committee consists of eight dedicated people who are working hard to welcome horse people state-wide into the Maryland Horse Council family. The Maryland Horse Council is an organization of Maryland’s horse people, for Maryland’s horse people, dedicated to protecting and enhancing our mutual interests. For over 30 years, we have worked to represent those interests by including a broad spectrum of the equestrian community within our membership. We are redoubling our efforts to reach out to communities and equestrian disciplines in which our reach has been limited, and we are educating ourselves on the legislative and policy issues that affect them specifically.
The primary benefit of MHC membership is, of course, our advocacy work. Every day, across Maryland, state- and local-level governmental agencies are taking actions that can affect ourselves, our horses, our farms and our horse businesses in large and small ways. Yet, as isolated individuals, we lack the time and tools to stay abreast of these developments, much less influence them. That’s where the Horse Council comes in. As an organization, our primary mission is to represent the horse community before state and local government. And while the focus of that mission is generally on the horse industry at large, our members have the unique opportunity to help us see and understand how governmental proposals may affect them in specific and particular ways. Member input is essential to help us develop our policies; members participate in our legislative work, and work on our various ad hoc task forces and standing committees. As a membership organization, our members come first, and are the backbone of our organization.
The secondary, but no less important, benefit of membership is exclusive invitations to our educational, social, and industry networking events, and to our Quarterly Meetings. To us, a central part of representing our industry is helping our members cement the kinds of relationships with one another that help us speak with one voice. There is strength in solidarity.
We have four levels of membership, each of which is designed to meet the needs of different demographics.
Individual membership: Our individual membership is designed for those Marylanders who are passionate about horses and want to become, or stay, involved in our community. It can be a challenge for individuals to keep abreast of community news and industry developments. Individual members receive a copy of The Equiery in the mail and discounts on horse-related businesses such John Deere, Toro, and Dover Saddlery. It can be even more of a challenge for individuals to learn of and follow legislative and regulatory activity that may directly affect them, and even more challenging to participate in policy-making. It is much easier for individuals to engage and have an impact when they have someone speaking on their behalf. That is our job.
Association membership: Our association membership is designed to serve discipline-specific associations, educational associations, professional associations, and all the other non-profits that provide valuable services to our communities. Our association members benefit from special marketing and promotional services to help them reach their communities and maximize fundraising. Our job is to help equine organizations flourish.
Industry Professional membership: The industry professional membership is designed to help individuals and entities that do business in the horse industry. Industry professional membership is intended for any equine-specific businesses, of course, but also for any equine-adjunct businesses, such as realtors, lawyers, accountants, other professional services providers, healthcare providers, farm equipment purveyors, construction firms, and the like. Industry professional members are featured in a dedicated monthly Equiery column, and our YouTube channel is available to them for promotional videos.
Youth membership: Our youth membership is designed to introduce equestrians under the age of 18 to law-making and policy-making, including such topics as the regulatory issues around farm stewardship, equine-assisted therapy, racetrack safety, Safe Sport, and others. It is also designed to introduce our younger equestrians to the breadth and complexity of the Maryland horse industry, and to the variety of career options in the industry. Our job is to educate everyone in the equine community, not just the grownups.
If you are not already a member, please consider joining our MHC family – that is the best way to help us help you.
You can join on-line at www.mdhorsecouncil.org.