On January 29, the annual Maryland Horse Industry Day in Annapolis had a record number of attendees. The Horse Industry Day is a way for equine professionals and enthusiasts to meet with elected officials to educate them on the various benefits the horse industry provides for the state.

“As this was my first time attending Maryland Horse Industry Day as the executive director of the Maryland Horse Council, I was so pleases to see an all-time high attendance record,” said MHC executive director Carrie Hull.

One hundred and seventy-one members of the horse industry registered for the day and nine Maryland equine organizations set up information booths. During the morning session, 48 Representatives and Senators were visited for group discussions. Fifty-six legislators attended lunch, and several spoke to the group. Presentations by agency heads and special guests also occurred during lunch.

“This year’s program was particularly important because there was a great deal of turnover in last November’s elections,” said Jane Seigler, Maryland Horse Council Legislative Committee chair. Seigler reported that 18 out of 47 Senators were newly elected, which is close to half. In addition, 42 out of the 141 members of the House of Delegates are also newly elected. “This means that the horse industry has an important task in educating the new legislators about the powerful economic impact of the industry; its breadth, dept and diversity; its importance to preserving environmental quality and open space, etc.,” Seigler added.

“I always look forward to Horse Industry Day as it give us an opportunity to meet with legislators and educate them about the value of the horse industry in Maryland as well as get to know them when we are not lobbying for or against specific bills,” said Maryland Horse Council president Neil Agate. He added, “I also love seeing our members go in and meet with legislators. There are always MHC members who come out to Horse Industry Day and are nervous because they have never done “lobbying”, they are usually the ones that shine the most in the meetings with legislators.”

The Equiery’s associate publisher Tracy McKenna met with Senator Michael Hough of Frederick County. “Although we are pretty far apart politically, I found him to be willing to listen, and I would be comfortable to contact him should the need arise,” she stated, adding that she was happy to see how approachable the various politicians were who met with horse industry representatives.

Overall, these meetings and presentations have helped open up discussion and lay the foundation for the current legislative season. “This increased knowledge and understanding on the part of our elected officials helps ensure that proposed legislation that may affect horses, horse people and their farms and businesses will get reasoned and knowledgeable consideration,” Seigler concluded.