Letter from the Maryland Horse Council President Neil Agate
(first printed in the September 2018 print edition)

I hope you are enjoying all the wonderful equestrian activities that summer has to offer. Although the incredible amount of rain we’ve had this summer may have given some of us less saddle time than we’d like, the weather has not slowed down the Maryland Horse Council.

The MHC has been very busy with strategic planning and will be publishing a new Strategic Plan shortly. As always, The Equiery has been hitting its optimum stride and we’re about to publish our eighth edition since bringing the magazine into the Horse Council family in January. The Maryland Equine Transition Service (METS) is kicking into high gear and recently moved into the MHC/Equiery offices in Lisbon. We will also implement over the next few months exciting plans to bring in more members, more sponsors, more advertisers, and more volunteers, all with the goal of broadening our ability to reach, unite and serve the more than 100,000+ horses, their owners, and equine-related businesses in Maryland.

All of these activities, and many more outlined in the Strategic Plan, need one thing to guarantee the MHC’s success… VOLUNTEERS. We are fortunate to have a small staff, but they need the support of our member volunteers to make great things happen. Whether it’s helping out at Horseland or other regional horse events, engaging in our social media efforts, testifying in Annapolis, organizing events or just spreading the word about MHC benefits among your barn mates, every little bit helps. This year, we’ll be focusing more on recruiting and recognizing volunteers, and we hope that you’ll consider pitching in to help us fulfill the Maryland Horse Council’s mission.

Our last quarterly meeting was generously hosted by Farm Credit at their beautiful facility in Westminster. It was great to see so many people come to the meeting and also to engage with members via livestream. We covered a lot of topics, and this space isn’t large enough to highlight them all, but if you are interested, you can watch the (uncut/unedited) video on our Facebook page.

I do want to mention one important topic related to our governance. Since rewriting the by-laws two years ago we have a smaller, more representative Board of Directors, and it is extremely important that members can communicate with their Board representatives. To make it easier to communicate with your board representative, we have set up specific email addresses for each type of membership (see table).

Membership Type Email Address Board Representatives
Individual Members IndividualReps@mdhorsecouncil.org Amy Burk, Crystal Pickett, Bill Reightler, Erica Lancaster, Neil Agate, Royce Herman, JoAnne Stone, Clarissa Coughlin, John Blackburn, Michael Erskine, Jane Thery, Regina Welsh, Katie Nechamkin
Farm Members FarmReps@mdhorsecouncil.org Carolyn Krome, Jane Seigler, Steuart Pittman Jr., Elizabeth Tate, Renee Dixon
Association Members AssociationReps@mdhorsecouncil.org Christine Bricker, Christy Clagett, Erin Ochoa
Business Members BusinessReps@mdhorsecouncil.org Peter Radue, Judy Smith, Keith Wills
Charity/Foundation Members CharityReps@mdhorsecouncil.org Ahesahmahk Dahn

By using the appropriate email address for their membership category, MHC members will be able to communicate directly with the Board to discuss their particular interests and concerns. Of course, this is just one side of the puzzle, and we will look into ways to let your representatives easily communicate with you.

Since the last MHC update, the Maryland Equine Transition Service (METS) has received more than 50 calls (and emails and submissions through our website https://www.mdequinetransition.org). While this is great, we must continue to build the METS network of volunteers who are willing to serve as advocates for the horses, and the program, by working with horses in need of transition and by encouraging other industry members to participate.
I have been trying to think of analogies to modern networks in other areas that are accomplishing what we are trying to set up for METS. I am sure that networks exist to match potential adopters of animals with new homes, but I am going instead to share a couple of examples that are not quite perfect fits but will illustrate how valuable the network will be to the long-term success of METS. The strength and feasibility of METS will always depend on the size and strength of the network. We need a large network of horse people who are willing to help with one or more aspects of METS: transporting, adopting, training, caring for and/or donating to the horses that come through the service.

So, stay with me here, we need to create a network similar to Uber or AirBNB. In those networks there are thousands of people who volunteer to be part of the network to either drive people around or let them stay in their houses. In our vision of METS, we will have thousands of horse people who can provide services to horses in need of transition. In the Uber/AirBNB analogy, if a driver or host doesn’t want to participate in a particular transaction he doesn’t have to, and that will be the same with METS. When you complete a METS Network application you identify the activities that you are interested in participating in and the types of horses you are looking for. When a horse comes through the system we will match it to Network members who have indicated they can provide support in the areas that the particular horse requires, much like how Uber drivers are matched with riders in their particular geographic area while they are on duty. It is then the Network member’s choice whether or not to provide the requested support to that horse. Once you have signed up for METS you are never obligated to help. We understand that everyone (especially in the horse community) is extremely busy and may not always have time to help, but our goal is to have enough people in the network so that someone will always be available. I encourage you to call Brittney Carow, the METS Director, at 410-970-6474, or email METS at info@mdequinetransition.com. We’ve had some great people and facilities sign up so far, but we need more… we need you!
If you have thoughts or suggestions about any of the items mentioned here (or in The Equiery in general) please send me an email at nagate@mdhorsecouncil.org and I hope we all have a much drier end to the summer than we’ve had the past few months. Enjoy September and enjoy The Equiery!