June 2005

No, it is not a new reality show a la “Star Search,” but it is potentially a reality for Maryland’s equestrian community.

The Maryland Stadium Authority has been tasked by the governor’s office to work with the Maryland Horse Industry Board on a feasibility study for a park that will be designed for use not only by Marylanders, but that will also serve as an attractive destination for out-of-state tourists.

A “Request For Nomination of Real Property (RFNRP)” for the proposed horse park has been issued to counties and municipalities throughout the state, but anyone can nominate a site.

The MSA is searching for not less than 500 contiguous acres but preferably 800-1200 acres (with easy access to a major highway) in order to accommodate all of Maryland’s equestrian disciplines (including steeplechasing, eventing, fox chasing, endurance riding, dressage, show jumping and similar show ring-oriented sports, polo, Western/rodeo, carriage driving, jousting, police horse training, trail riding and pony rides). The scope includes at least one enclosed 5000-seat arena; an outdoor amphitheater for equestrian competitions, festivals, fairs, trade shows and concerts; 6-12 outdoor show rings and 800- 1200 stalls. The park will be intended to appeal to the large horse show market.

Also intended are concession areas, campgrounds, a visitors’ center and business offices for veterinarian, farrier, breeder and equestrian organizations, a museum, and an equine retirement center. The proposed horse park also will be used for structured educational programs and conferences. The site should be within 15-30 minutes of local amenities (restaurants and lodging) and provide an adequate amount of parking for recreational vehicles, horse trailers, and for the personal vehicles of the event patrons. Training and other private recreational facilities could be incorporated to expand the appeal of the horse park.

The feasibility studies will determine the best location for a horse park, a preliminary plan, initial schedule, budget and the economic benefits to Maryland resulting from the
creation and operation of this facility.