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.)

Horse Land

3878Horse Land, which will run for all 11 days of the Fair, will take place under a big tent pitched between the racetrack grandstand and Kiddie Land, an assortment of amusement rides just for children and families located in the parking lot in front of the Fair’s administration building.

In the Horse Land tent, all sorts of equine demonstrations, children’s activities, and a live pony named Elvis (on loan courtesy of FasigTipton Company’s Paget Bennett) and two donkeys Vinny and Paz from Jeff Dwyer’s Ebb Tide Stables, will be available for folks to pet.

City Ranch’s Ahesahmahk Dahn will conduct daily mini horsemanship lessons in two round pens adjacent to the tent and Howard County’s Brenda Von Rautenkranz will hold EGALA training sessions as well as taping segments for her Columbia-based television show.

Fran Burns, April Smith and Bobby Lillis will provide tours of the racetrack during the racing programs, explaining the racing activities taking place, and Stan Salter will present handicapping sessions on how to pick a winner.

Hope Birsh (Maryland Saddlery) and Bev Raymond (MHIB) are chairing programming for the center of the tent where kids will make stick horses and be able to race them on a child size racetrack as well as leap over a small jumping course.

_JHA6592Eleven different certified Horse Discovery Centers from different geographic regions of the state will each have a day to promote riding and volunteer activities. Graham Equestrian Center will loan their horse Equicizer for folks to get the feel of getting on a horse and there will be a photo booth set up by the Pasadena Horse Association.

Other activities will include farrier, horse braiding, grooming and tacking opportunities as well as informational booths set up by such organizations as the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Maryland Million, Maryland Horse Industry Board, Maryland Horse Council, the Cloverleaf harness owners organization  and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemens Association.

_JHA6581Therapeutic riding activities, horse rescues, the University of Maryland equine studies department, the Maryland High School Rodeo Assoc. are among other organizations with a Horse Land presence.

Dale Clabaugh from the Maryland Horse Council is handling staffing and volunteer activities.

Racetrack Infield Horse Fest

On two evenings from 4-8:30 p.m., on Sept. 1 and 2, when there are no concerts or horse races, there will be a racetrack infield horse fest.

Phoebe Hayes from the Maryland Jockey Club is coordinating the events.

Horse exhibitions include carriage rides by the Suttler Post Clydesdales, demonstrations by trick rider Jeff Dwyer and his Morgan gelding, Cocoa, who won the Dancing Horse Challenge two years ago, a preview of the upcoming Thoroughbred Makeover, a walking horse exhibition, musical dressage freestyle, polo exhibition match, parade of foxhounds, presentation on each evening of Touch Of Class award winners and recipients of TROT scholarships. There will also be a balloon glow, wine and beer garden, food trucks and music.

The Maryland State Fair is underwriting many of the expenses but several horse organizations have pitched in with financial support including Md Horse Breeders Assoc., Maryland Million, Maryland Horse Industry Board, Maryland Jockey Club, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Cloverleaf Harness Owners Association and the Maryland Standardbred Breeders Assoc.

It is taking a force of nearly 100 volunteers from all parts of the industry to make the Horse Festival happen.

“We are truly thrilled to be working with so many wonderful people from the state’s horse industry,” Brashear said. “This event is a huge effort and is taking quite a bit of organization to get started. But we think it’s going to be a terrific addition to the Fair.”

Anyone wishing to volunteer or take part should contact MHIB Executive Director Ross Peddicord at