by Kimberly K. Egan MHC President (first published in the September 2023 Equiery)

September begins a season of transition. Summer vacations end, children go back to school, the weather starts to change, and we all start to turn to the next big thing. This year, we said goodbye to two fixtures of the Maryland horse community, and we celebrate important anniversaries for three others.

The Surrey, the Montgomery County staple founded in 1953 and located first in Potomac and later in Darnestown, closed its doors for the last time in August. Generations of horse people grew up shopping for tack, apparel, and barn supplies at The Surrey. Many would later work there, for just a summer or for decades. The closing of the shop will leave a hole in the local horse community not because of the merchandise – Maryland is blessed with large tack stores like Dover Saddlery and the internet is full of other terrific options – but because The Surrey was a local shop staffed by local people. The staff and owners knew us, and we knew them. The Surrey sponsored local horse shows. The Surrey could fix tack that broke on Friday night in time for an 8 a.m. ride time on Saturday morning. The staff at The Surrey might put a new product aside for you if they thought you’d love it. They might bring it to a vendor show just for you. The Surrey could outfit you for a riding vacation and then post pictures of your trip on the wall. The Surrey was family.

Similarly, the Reddemeade Equestrian Center taught thousands to ride over its 39 years in Montgomery County. It taught everyone from beginners to advanced riders; it taught unmounted horsemanship and showing skills. It raised dressage riders, eventers, and show ring hunters. Reddemeade gave many equestrians their first taste of horse ownership through its ground-breaking and oft-emulated EquiShare program. Reddemeade alumni now ride and train as both amateurs and professionals at the top of their fields in a variety of disciplines, not just in Maryland but across the country as well. Reddemeade alumni are a close-knit group, and we are sure their community will live on long after the physical structure has closed.

As we say goodbye to The Surrey and Reddemeade, three Maryland horse industry fixtures are celebrating big anniversaries this year. Farmers Cooperative in Frederick celebrated its 100th anniversary in August. It has grown and adapted as the needs of the horse industry have grown and adapted, and we look forward to having them in Frederick for many more years to come.
The McDonough School in Owings Mills is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The school’s equestrian facilities have grown to be a juggernaut competition venue in the mid-Atlantic. Its Willis Lynch Equestrian Showgrounds has two indoor arenas and three outdoor arenas, with both Eurofelt and sand footing. There is a 68-stall barn on site, as well as cross-country jumps and equestrian trails. The facility already hosts over 20 sanctioned, schooling, and in-house shows a year, and has plans to expand even further.

Lastly, the Capital Challenge Horse Show is holding its 30th anniversary show at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center this month. The competition is the largest horse show of its kind east of the Mississippi River, and it has a multi-million-dollar impact on state and local coffers.

These milestones are highlights in our otherwise packed fall schedule. This issue contains our twice yearly calendar of events and includes horse events scheduled between now and the end of the year. The calendar is an embarrassment of riches.
There are eight jousting tournaments in September alone, and another two in October. We have the Bill Pickett Rodeo and the Maryland Horse and Pony Show at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center, and Harrison Mule Days at the Carroll County Equestrian Center.

In October we have the Washington International 5* Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center, the MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, and the Jim McKay Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park.

There are draft horse pulls and exhibitions during the autumn fair season. The new Maryland Horse Library and Education Center will host numerous educational talks at its facility in Reisterstown. Farms across the state will hold countless clinics with Olympic, international, and national team riders. Our organized fox chasing clubs will host seven hunter paces. And we have at least three Christmas parades in which horses are included.

Maryland is, without a doubt, a horse lover’s paradise.