by Neil Agate MHC President (first published in the July 2020 Equiery)

I feel that saying we are living in extraordinary times is getting quite old, but the last month has proven that once again. When we went to press 30 days ago on the June edition of The Equiery we were starting to come out of the COVID-19 lockdown and there were glimpses of normalcy on the horizon for the Maryland horse community. Barns and trails started to open up and we were working with the horse show community to plan safely starting their shows and events back up. While these trends have generally continued and things are starting to get closer to normal there have been new issues that we have had to address.

For the Maryland Horse Council family one of these events was the resignation of Carrie Hull as Executive Director of the Maryland Horse Council. As our first full-time association manager, Carrie was with the MHC for almost 18 months. We value the work she has done to move us forward in those 18 months and wish her well in her new position as Executive Director of the Great Meadow Foundation in Virginia. As we evaluate next steps for the Maryland Horse Council we greatly appreciate Carrie’s feedback on how we can move forward with an effective management structure for MHC, The Equiery and METS. The MHC Executive Committee is evaluating several options for this and will have an update at our virtual quarterly Board meeting on July 29.

The New Normal
At the end of May, MHC hosted our second COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall. This time the topic was on legal and insurance issues relating to the pandemic. Once again, the on-line meeting was well attended and we thank our speakers for their great presentations and responses to questions, as well as our members for attending. We have a full write-up on page 28 in this edition.

We are also happy to see so many people “Out and About” and to see our great horse farms and facilities putting on shows with new processes and procedures to make sure that everyone is safe. Check out the Out and About section and our articles on Competing post COVID in this issue as well.

Racial Equality in Equine Sports
On June 11, after an extended discussion with staff members and some members of our Executive and Legislative committee, the Maryland Horse Council posted a message on social media supporting the US Equestrian Federation’s statement against racism. The intense national and international focus on racial issues over the last month had turned our attention to racism and inclusivity within the Maryland horse community, and we felt that as the primary organization that represents the entire horse community in Maryland, the Maryland Horse Council should make a statement. As the USEF not only summarized our collective feelings about racism, but also put forward solid proposals that we as a community can put into action, we decided that we should endorse their statement.

The response to the post on both the MHC Facebook page and The Equiery’s FB page where it was also shared, was overwhelmingly positive and we thank our readers for their support and for reading the entire post. A small minority of readers made negative comments which did not appear to be directed at our post or the USEF statement but at the use of the Black Lives Matter image that we posted with the statement. We regret that the use of the graphic may have been distracting from the substance and purpose of our post and hope that everyone will find time to read the entire post, including the USEF statement. This is an important conversation for our community and our country to have and we will continue to make it a priority in our Maryland horse community.

Next Up…
Please put our virtual Quarterly Board Meeting on your calendars for 7-9PM on July 29. This will be a virtual meeting using Zoom, and we will provide an update on all of the items in this column as well as important information about a proposed amendment to our Bylaws and upcoming Board of Directors elections. We will be posting information about signing up for the meeting soon.