The Maryland Horse Industry Board has released a Request for Interest, seeking input from any government-owned properties with existing equine facilities that want to be considered in the Maryland Horse Park System feasibility study, Phase II.

There are certain publicly owned facilities, such as Fair Hill, Rosaryville, Prince George’s Equestrian Center, and Woodstock Equestrian Park, that are currently quite active with equestrian activities and thus are rather obvious. But Maryland has a lot of public land, and many parcels currently host equestrian activities but on a smaller scale, or do not yet host equine activities but could. This request is intended to help identify those parcels, some of which may be owned by a county or a town.

Of primary interest are venues that could hold large events, and thus must be at least 75 acres, and include at least 10 acres that could be built out for indoor and outdoor arenas as well as buildings that could hold meeting rooms, educational activities, cultural centers, expos, and the like.

If you would like to make sure a publicly owned facility in your area is considered, provide your local elected officials with this information. But hurry! Publicly owned facilities have until January 10 to indicate their interest (with final paperwork due in February).

After the public sites have been identified, five will be selected for further review. The final study will provide the data necessary to determine how to best link the sites into a Maryland Horse Park Network, and well as cost estimates.

The original horse park study conducted in 2005 recommended that the state build a large central facility similar to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky for about $120 million; however, the idea never fully took root for myriad reasons. In 2012, the MHIB conducted a new study, which found that the concept of developing a Maryland Horse Park continued to be vital to the growth of the state’s horse industry and that existing facilities already had many of the essential components for a horse park. The study suggested that current facilities, when linked together, could form a statewide horse park system in which individual facilities operate cooperatively rather than as strictly single venues. The Request for Interest will determine which publicly owned facilities are interested in being part of the statewide system.

Once the publicly owned facilities are identified, privately owned facilities will be examined.

Once the facilities are identified, Phase Two of the study will investigate exactly what needs to be done to maximize the use of current equine facilities and study the potential these facilities have for attracting national and international events, competitions, and visitors to Maryland. Click here to read the past feasibility study.

The study is funded jointly by the MHIB and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

The goal is to have the study complete by the third Maryland Horse Forum on August 7, 2014. To learn more, click here or visit the MHIB booth at Horse World Expo in January.