The Maryland state slogan should be “Maryland is for Horses;” it makes much more sense than “Virginia is for Lovers.” It’s not just the history, the legacy, and the facilities, but our fellow citizens’ support. Although I’ve been involved with horses since my first riding lessons at Kettering Stables in the 1960’s and grew up watching horses run at Bowie Race Track, I did not understand the far reaching impact horses had on communities, businesses, individuals, and industries until recently. I’m not an economist, but I can use my own personal example to illustrate how one person’s horse habit can affect the local economy.
As a child, I took horseback riding lessons, which of course also required the purchase of boots and riding clothes. My parents took our family to Bowie Race Track where they spent money to get in, buy programs, bet on races, and buy food and drinks at concession stands. I worked at barns feeding horses and mucking stalls in exchange for more lessons and riding opportunities, an arrangement which still works well to this day for many stables to help them run their businesses. My parents eventually leased a horse for me, which required us to purchase tack, grooming equipment, and more. I even learned a bit about business as a teenager when I would ride my horse over to Allen Pond and collect a small fee for “pony rides” from park patrons.
I didn’t grow out of the horse phase in my adult years, and today my husband and I own three horses we board at Loftmar Stables in Bowie. In fact, the sole reason we bought the house was because it was adjacent to a stable. We pay for monthly board, riding lessons, vet bills, dentist bills, and farrier bills. We purchased a horse trailer at Cox Trailers in Clinton and buy gas to trailer our horses to local trail rides and to horse shows. We pay entry fees at shows and while there support local vendors. We regularly shop at Southern States in Upper Marlboro, Dover Saddlery and Maryland Saddlery in Crofton, and Bowen Farm Supply in Annapolis for equipment and supplies. We frequent Outback Leather in Laurel to have our horse blankets cleaned and repaired.
I continued the family tradition of attending horse races, and we entertain ourselves at Laurel Park, Pimlico, and Rosecroft Raceway and support their concessions. I am Secretary of the Maryland Horse Council and spend money travelling across the state to attend meetings and events. My husband and I are strong supporters of horse rescues and contribute money to help three Maryland horse rescues. I’ve authored two horse books and pay Maryland Sales and Use Tax on sales. I travel to schools and to book signings, and again, support those local economies while there.
The list goes on, but the point is the horse industry touches many segments and individuals in the economy that some might not ordinarily consider. My example is one, and there are an estimated 65,500 horse owners, employees, and volunteers in the state. Think about it the next time you see a horse trailer on the road…Maryland businesses are likely benefitting economically from that cargo. Horses are not just good for people with the horse habit, but for the many people supporting that habit through their local goods and services. Yes, Maryland is for Horses.
This article was shared with state lawmakers as part of Maryland Horse Industry Day, Feb. 23, 2016, in Annapolis, Md.