Welcome – Jane Seigler
Greetings MHC members and Directors!
For the first time in memory, MHC canceled our January Quarterly Board of Directors meeting, due to the forecasted Snowzilla (which delivered on its promises and then some!) We thought we’d send along this summary of some of the reports you would have heard at the meeting - but you’ll just have to dream about the chili and soups! We are looking forward to seeing you at our May meeting: May 10 at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro.
Roll Call and Approval of Minutes – Valerie Ormond
Draft Minutes from the November 2015 Quarterly are available for review at the MHC website at (http://mdhorsecouncil.org/mhc-news/item/137-mhc-november-2015-quarterly-meeting-minutes), and will be amended and/or approved at the May 2016 Quarterly.
Report on State Farm Bureau Meeting – Steuart Pittman
Another year, another Maryland Farm Bureau Convention in Ocean City. These are fun. Farm Bureau is a truly democratic organization (small "d" in this case) in which policy comes from the bottom up. Watching it in process is a real treat.
Farm Bureau still does not agree with the Maryland Horse Council position in opposition to Sunday hunting, but they are quite interested in our concept of Sunday hunts that end at 10:30 am, and passed a resolution supporting the concept. They don't yet want to give up the full day Sunday hunts and go for a statewide uniform law, but if we get some pilot counties going to prove that most deer are killed in the mornings on Sundays we may be able to move them to our compromise position. Hunters generally oppose reducing the deer herd and want Sundays for convenience. Farmers want to reduce the herd. MHC is closer to Farm Bureau's position than the hunters, in my opinion, and it won't be long before Farm Bureau and MHC are on the same page, I hope.
Otherwise, Farm Bureau and MHC are allies on most issues. The Farm Bureau Equine Committee, which I chair, makes sure that MHC positions are brought to Farm Bureau leadership. It is a good relationship and should be cultivated. If anyone is interested in joining this committee, please let me know.
Update on Horse Industry Day in Annapolis – Jane Seigler
Please plan to join us on February 23rd, 2016 for an afternoon and evening in Annapolis where we will be meeting with our legislators and making an impression about how strong the horse industry is in Maryland! We need horse people from every part of the state! We'll give you all the info you need to tell our legislators what we care about!
Follow up to MHC Resolution Opposing Slaughter – Vicki Carson & Steuart Pittman
As you may know by now, last fall the Maryland Horse Council membership passed a resolution to support passage of the S.A.F.E. Act (Safeguard All Food Exports Act) in the United States Congress. The S.A.F.E. Act would end domestic use and export of U.S. horses for slaughter for human consumption. The Maryland Horse Council’s resolution also included a commitment to develop a better “safety net” to protect Maryland’s equines from slaughter or neglect.
On December 17th, 2015 a group of interested horse industry representatives met at Laurel Park to discuss how to proceed, both with support of S.A.F.E. Act legislation and with building a program where unwanted horses have a viable alternative to slaughter, neglect or disuse. During the meeting, the group reviewed the programs the Maryland Fund For Horses already has in place for owner education and financial assistance for health care, gelding stallions, and euthanasia and disposal. The discussion proceeded to review recommendations from UC-Davis for “Unwanted Horse Assessment Stations” and networks for placement of adoptable horses.
The UC-Davis International Animal Welfare Training Institute has developed a “template” for a system where an “assessment station” triages any unwanted horse brought in, determining whether the horse is potentially adoptable or un-adoptable using specific criteria to define what constitutes “un-adoptable.” Adoptable horses are placed in one of four groups: rehabilitation/re-training required, immediately useful, needing permanent housing and retirement, or used for outreach education about equine care. Those horses deemed un-adoptable are provided a dignified, humane end-of-life solution.
Since 2011, MHC and MFFH have had a long-term goal of establishing an “Equine Center” similar to the one described by UC-Davis. There was a general consensus at the December 17th meeting that the time has come for Maryland to proceed with making a plan for developing and funding such a center. The group acknowledged that a wide-ranging committee of participants and stakeholders from the equine community is needed to produce a comprehensive, feasible plan for such a center. Maryland Fund For Horses was asked to start the process by drafting a project plan and reaching out to invite prospective committee members to help develop a plan for the next step forward for equine welfare in Maryland.
On December 23rd, Maryland Fund For Horses distributed a draft of an outline project plan identifying seven key phases for developing a detailed proposal for a “Maryland Equine Center.” The first step is to define the mission and programs that will comprise the center – along with a more permanent name for it. By early January, thirty-four people volunteered to join the planning committee, working in various roles and during various phases of the project.
This is a large but very exciting and promising undertaking. Maryland has always been a leader in innovation in the equine industry. Planning for a “Maryland Equine Center” is a groundbreaking opportunity to address and resolve important equine welfare issues. MHC members who wish to join the planning committee may do so by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Farm Stewardship Committee – Jane Thery
The next Farm Stewardship Committee that was scheduled for Monday, February 15th has been postponed due to possible imposing weather conditions. Please stay tuned as we will be announcing a new date soon.
Legislative Committee – Jane Seigler and Christy Clagett
The 2016 Legislative session is underway in Annapolis, and we are already at work monitoring bills that may affect the equestrian community. We are also continuing to work on a bill that will provide fair, shared use of our natural resources between hunters and other user groups on Sundays. Finally, big plans are in the works for our second annual Horse Industry Day in Annapolis. This will be an afternoon and evening of learning about our issues, visiting our legislators to meet and talk with them about our issues, and winding up with a fun cocktail reception at the Calvert House. Come join us! No experience necessary. We will set up the meetings with your legislators and provide everything you’ll need to have a good conversation with them. Come be a part of Democracy in Action! To find out more details and register, click here: http://marylandhorse.com/industryday
Committee To Support Racing – Christy Clagett
Maryland Racing’s betting handle increased by nearly 20% in 2015. The increase is attributed to more turf racing and larger fields. Laurel Park says it is proceeding with a planned $200 million in improvements and will be putting in a bid in for the 2018 Breeders Cup. Our MHC Day at the Races will be held on Sunday June 5, 2016, and the Preakness will be held on May 21st, 2016.
Maryland Fund For Horses – Vicki Carson
-Spring gelding initiative event with financial aid from MFFH will run from March 1 - April 15, 2016 (help us spread the word!)
-MFFH was appointed by MHC leadership to begin creating a plan for a Maryland Equine Center to provide alternatives for at-risk horses that might otherwise go to slaughter. See “Follow up to MHC Resolution Opposing Slaughter” above, and the first official planning meeting occurred February 2nd.
- Horse Bucks health care rebate program will continue indefinitely, along with ongoing fundraising.
- Volunteers needed to participate on the editorial board for the 2nd Edition of the Safe & Sound Resource Guide for new and prospective horse owners. Volunteers will research and recommend physical and on-line materials to be included in the guide.
MHC Political Action Committee – Steuart Pittman & Win Hayward
The Horse Council PAC concluded its successful 2015-16 political year by contributing a total of $3,900 to 16 elected Maryland officials who influence policy issues that matter to the Maryland equine community. The recipients were chosen after consultation with the MHC Legislative Committees, and MHC consultant, Frank Boston. For the first time, the recipients included the sitting Governor. The full list is posted here: (Final 2015-16 Transfers List)
Thanks are due to the generous members of the MHC for donating the majority of funds collected by the PAC. We truly appreciate the support.
As of year end, members of the PAC are Chairman - Steuart Pittman; Treasurer - Win Hayward; and Board Members - Christy Clagett, Royce Herman, Erica Lancaster, and Rod Cameron.
Maryland Horse Industry Board – Ross Peddicord & Kathleen Tabor
New Assistant Secretary of Agriculture: Steve Connelly, from Cecil County, replaces Pat McMillan, who has retired. Steve provides oversight for the Dept. of Agriculture on Horse Board operations.
Md. Horse Park System: In response to the Maryland Stadium Authority study, task forces have been formed at both Fair Hill and Prince George's Equestrian Center and are meeting on a regular basis to develop proposals for making improvements at both sites. Ross Peddicord has joined the Cecil County Sports Tourism committee to provide the county with Fair Hill updates.
Horses Healing Maryland's Military: a network of approximately a dozen licensed stables who offer horsemanship programs to military veterans and their families has been formed to plan events, share best practices and bring about greater awareness of how horses currently help our military and to honor the contributions of horses in military history.