first published in the January 2019 Equiery print edition

This past year has been one of many changes for the Maryland Horse Council. First as many of you are aware, the Maryland Horse Council acquired The Equiery in January 2018. The Equiery is Maryland’s only all-breed, all-sport, digital and print horse publication.

With The Equiery, MHC has acquired a turn-key multi-media publishing and marketing entity that will enable the Council to not only better serve its membership but to also reach the entire Maryland equestrian community.

“For MHC, with The Equiery we will be able to increase our reach to many more potential members throughout the state and [it will] give us a greatly expanded communications vehicle to keep our membership up to date on everything we are doing around the state,” said MHC President, Neil Agate.

Throughout 2018 the Horse Council developed a new strategic plan for the combined entity of MHC and The Equiery, a plan that optimizes both the revenue and distribution for The Equiery, and membership and messaging for MHC. This new strategic plan leads the Council in new directions that will enhance both the MHC and Equiery’s reach, such as enhanced member services and an expanded schedule of events.

In fact, the Maryland Horse Council also hired its first full-time Executive Director, Carrie Hull, to lead not only MHC, but The Equiery, and the newly established Maryland Equine Transition Service, which provides owners with the knowledge and tools to successfully transition their horses into their next chapter!

Legislative Committee Report
During the 2018 Maryland legislative session, the MHC Legislative Committee reviewed all the bills, ultimately monitoring the progress of about 40 bills under a variety of topics, from natural resources to agriculture, from taxes to criminal law. Serving on the committee were President Neil Agate, Vice President Steuart Pittman, former President Jane Seigler, former Secretary Crystal Brumme Pickett, Christy Clagett, Jennifer Webster, Gale Monahan, JoAnne Stone, Joe Michael, Jacquie Cowan, and Kim Egan Rutter.

Members of the committee visited legislators and testified at committee hearings in support of or opposition to some bills of concern. Official MHC Letters in support of or opposition to legislation were crafted and submitted. Members of the equestrian community were encouraged and recruited to attend certain hearings and testify.

In the 2018 session, MHC stared down yet another broad bill that would have expanded Sunday wildlife hunting. For almost 20 years, MHC has lobbied for retaining some window of firearm-free access to public lands during gunning season. Meanwhile, MHC works with the Maryland Farm Bureau and other groups to ensure effective deer management controls. The 2018 bill included broad provisions for Sunday hunting of all species. MHC was able to defeat the bill, with the help of MHC’s registered lobbyist Frank Boston, who provides guidance and critical assistance helping MHC build influential relationships in Annapolis.

Other bills which passed in the 2018 session and are of interest to our community include:
• HB 7 & HB 119: Supporting Programs That Support Effective Deer Harvesting – Venison Tax Credit
• HB 198: Inheritance Tax & Perpetual Conservation Easements
• HB 212: Ownership Ban for Convicted Animal Abusers
• HB 1177: Racing Anti-Doping Compact
• HB 1721: Preakness & International Incentives
• SB 610: Forest Conservation Task Force
• SB 851: Injured Jockey Fund
• SB 1140: MD Ag Land Preservation Fund – defining the term
“children” to include step-children

For more information on these bills, go to

Farm Stewardship Committee Report
The MHC Farm Stewardship Committee founded and chaired by Jane Thery has also been extremely active this year!

In 2017, MHC was successful in including MHC in the list of organizations to participate in a new statutorily created “Yard Waste, Food Residuals, and Other Organic Materials Diversion and Infrastructure Study” being led by the Maryland Department of the Environment. In 2018, representing MHC, Farm Stewardship Chair Jane Thery ensured that language requiring: “Partner with MDA and the Maryland’s horse industry to provide outreach to operators of horse farms regarding composting of horse manure. This outreach may take the form of a training session or workshop” was included in the Study Group’s official comments on draft regulations. We will continue participating in the Study Group in 2019.

Other 2018 Farm Stewardship accomplishments:
• Conducted a high-level meeting at Waredaca Farm with owner Robert Butts; Neil Agate, President, Maryland Horse Council; Ross Peddicord, Executive Director, Maryland Horse Industry Board; Dwight Dotterer, Administrator, MDA Nutrient Management Program; Jane Seigler, former president, Maryland Horse Council; Maryland Horse Council board members, John Blackburn and Carolyn Krome; Dan Johannes, representative of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; and Melissa Filiaggi, representative, Maryland Environmental Service.

• Provided a letter of support for the continuation of the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) of the Association of Soil Conservation Districts

• Began discussions re: launching a horse-farm only initiative under the Maryland Department of Agriculture, that will be similar to FSCAP. In 2019, will follow up on this, including providing a recommended list of specialists qualified to prepare nutrient management and conservation plans for horse farms.

• Provided a letter of support for expanding composting, including for horse manure, in Harford County.

• Composting of horse manure promoted through MHC website blog posts and information on workshops.

Stay tuned for the spring Maryland Horse Council Farm Stewardship Committee Meeting at the headquarters of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis!