by Kimberly K. Egan, MHC President (first published in the February 2024 Equiery)

The February issue is one of our favorite issues because it is our Yearbook of Champions issue. We highlight the many successes that Maryland equestrians and breeders have achieved during the 2023 season and we always have a plethora of successes to fill our pages.

Maryland riders won year-end awards in a variety of disciplines, including barrel racing, competitive trail riding, dressage, eventing, jousting, pony hunters, ranch riding, reining, show hunters, show jumping, and western riding. Read the Yearbook of Champions and National & Special Award Winners sections for many results and photographs.

Maryland breeders also filled several competition horse and breeding stock Top 10 lists. Three of the top ten event horse breeders in the country are Marylanders. Three of the horses that won Maryland Combined Training Association year-end awards were bred in Maryland. Two of the top ten pony hunter breeders are Marylanders. One of the top ten pony hunter sires and one of the top ten Welsh Pony sires were bred in Maryland. Two Maryland-bred horses earned North American Dutch Warmblood awards. You can read the complete breeder results in this month’s Maryland-Bred Sport Horse column.

While we are celebrating 2023 champions and award winners, we might also celebrate the Maryland-bred horses and ponies who won championships in December and early January. Two Maryland-breds won their divisions at the Belfield Opener Hunter Show at McDonogh School in Owings Mills during the first week of December. They are Champion Large Children’s Pony Hunter, Bluestocking, bred by Kim Stewart at Glenwillow, Inc., and Champion Large-Small Pony Hunter Loafer’s Lodge Sweet Georgia Peach bred by John Almond.

Two Maryland-breds also won divisions at the Wellington Equestrian Festival (WEF) Premiere (Jan. 2-7) in Wellington, Florida. Indigo Midnight, a 2016 Thoroughbred mare bred by Anna Harold, was Champion Take 2 Thoroughbred Jumper (1.0m) II2b on January 10. Ka-Chow, a 2012 Welsh Pony bred by John Lindsley, was 2024 Champion Itty Bitty Jumper Table II.2b on January 3. She is registered as A Momentary Springtime. We will have full coverage of competition results for January and much of February in our March issue.

The February issue is also the first issue of the year to cover the new session of the Maryland General Assembly. The 2024 session convened at noon on January 10 and will run for 90 days, until April 8. The session will be dominated by budget battles because the spigot of federal COVID relief funds has been turned off. The Maryland Thoroughbred Operating Authority’s “Pimlico Plus” plan to re-vitalize Maryland Thoroughbred racing will be one of many projects up for debate in the budget committees this session, as will, most likely, legislative bond and other funding requests for capital projects.

There are few bills of interest to the horse industry so far…. A bill to require minors to wear helmets on certain public and private property, a bill to impose a late fee on boarding, lesson, and rental stables and rescues that are 60 days past their stable license renewal date, and a bill proposing new outdoor lighting standards. We anticipate several more bills to come in over the next few weeks. Our Government Relations Committee column has more details and specifics on each of these bills.

In the meantime, settle in with a warming beverage, flip through these pages, and marvel at the breadth and strength of our industry.