About the Maryland Horse Council (MHC)
Horses are deeply woven into the heritage and history of Maryland. As the Maryland Horse Council, we strive to honor that heritage, while continuing to support the growth and vitality of Maryland’s impressive horse community. Since being established in 1985, we have sought to unify, inform, and represent the community as a whole. As the industry’s trade association and representative to the state legislators, MHC provides one common voice in the Maryland state legislature and state agencies, by interacting with the media and the general public, and by keeping its members informed on issues that affect them and their horses.
The Maryland Horse Council is a volunteer, grassroots membership organization. We have five membership types: association members, business members, farm members, charity/foundation members, and individual members.
Who We Represent:
You of course! According to the 2010 Equine Census, the Maryland horse community is made up of 28,340 people with 81,000 horses on 16,040 properties that comprise 587,000 acres. Our assets are $5.6 billion, our direct operating expenses are $363 million, and our economic impact has never been accurately measured, but is in the billions. We are every breed and every discipline, and Maryland is the state where many of those disciplines began in these United States.
What We Do:
The primary mission of MHC is to represent the interests of Maryland’s horse community to the state government, but we do much more than that. In 2018, The Equiery was acquired, which now functions as the Maryland Horse Council’s publication. All members receive a copy mailed straight to their doors each month! This has been and continues to be a wonderful tool to increase our communication with members and the community as a whole. Keeping you up-to-date on what we are working on, along with relevant news or issues, is an imperative aspect of our mission. Plus, The Equiery still provides the community with resources, information, products, services, fun photos and stories, and so much more. To read the latest issue, click here.
Also in 2018, the Maryland Equine Transition Service (METS) was created as a program for MHC. METS is a statewide initiative that provides safe alternatives for horses needing homes by helping owners identify and select the best transition options for their horses. This unique program has been incredibly successful and continues to adapt in order to provide Maryland’s horse community with the resources and services to comprehensively support the needs of Maryland’s horses. METS provides individualized services for these horses, including equine assessment, marketing assistance, end-of-life support, and facilitating the transition of horses to new homes. For more information on this innovative program, visit www.mdequinetransition.org or download the 2018 and 2019 Annual Reports.
In 2020, the Maryland Horse Council Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization, was created as a permanent home for MHC’s charitable endeavors like the Maryland Equine Transitions Service.
As stated above, one of MHC’s main missions is lobbying, i.e., being the voice of Maryland’s horse people in the State Legislature, as well as before the regulatory agencies. Over the years, MHC has had numerous lobbying successes, for example: successfully advancing legislation that created the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB) within the Department of Agriculture. The MHIB serves as a commodity board that promotes the horse industry and licenses stables in Maryland; enacting state law that recognizes equine facilities and equine activities as part of “agriculture,” thereby ensuring the many benefits and protections that follow from inclusion in that definition. We have worked diligently to preserve safe Sundays by trying to prevent the spread of hunting on Sundays. We have weighed in on numerous pieces of proposed legislation involving environmental regulation, civil liability for horse related injuries and dog bites, funding for land preservation programs, etc.
Most recently, MHC’ bill to prohibit “Crimes Against Animals – Interference With Equines” (HB 171), crossed the finish line in Annapolis! This law will punish anyone who willfully and maliciously interferes with, injures, destroys, or tampers with an equine used for any lawful activity. Such acts are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail. This was a remarkable achievement, because many bills do not succeed in passage the first year they are introduced (it takes several “tries” in successive years). If you have an issue or concern that involves state law or regulation, please let us know about it!
We also have a number of committees working to represent and support the needs of our members. The Farm Stewardship committee works to promote and expand the role that horse farms play in protecting the environment. Our Unwanted Horse Project created the Maryland Fund For Horses. We have a Political Action Committee to fund horse-friendly candidates for public office. We have a Committee to Support Racing and a Trails and Greenways Committee. We have an MHC Business Network. And, of course, we have a Legislative Committee that coordinates our grassroots lobbying. MHC also participates in the Maryland Farm Bureau and the American Horse Council’s Coalition of State Horse Councils.
How to Get Involved:
Like all primarily volunteer membership organizations, we constantly work to grow. Without dues-paying members, we would not exist. Without people willing to take on leadership roles, we would be silent.
We hope that you will join or renew your membership, encourage your friends to join, come to our Quarterly meetings, and find ways to lend your knowledge and talents in support of Maryland’s wonderful horse community.
Keep in mind that a Farm, Business or Charity/Foundation membership allows you to participate in the MHC Business Network and puts your farm or business name in our online membership directory. Click here for a full list of member benefits.
One Common Bond, The Horse • One Common Voice, Maryland Horse Council