July 7, 2018

American Horse Council presents Van Ness Award to former MHC Executive Committee Member

CappsPhoto newsletter2On Monday, June 11, 2018, the American Horse Council posthumously presented the Marjorie Van Ness Award for leadership and service to a state horse community to the late Tim Capps, who was nominated for the award by the Maryland Horse Council and the Kentucky Horse Council. The award was accepted by his daughter Meredith Capps.

Unlike other Maryland Van Ness recipients, Tim never served as an officer of the Maryland Horse Council – but he did serve on the MHC Executive Committee throughout his career with the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Maryland Million and the Maryland Jockey Club. He rarely missed a monthly meeting, and his legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience guided MHC through a period of extraordinary growth and accomplishments in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Tim also never owned a horse. Never rode a horse. And to the best that anyone, including his daughter, can remember, he never even touched a horse. But he did love horses – he loved their stories. And the stories of their people, of their passion for their horses, of the industry fueled by the passions...by love, by greed, by adrenalin, by rivalry, by justice ...an industry unmistakenably alive and vigorous, even when declared DOA by others. Tim was a master story-teller. He told stories as the publisher of The Thoroughbred Record and the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. He wrote three of the books in the 24 book Thoroughbred Legends series published by Eclipse Press. And, according to long-time MHC director Crystal Brumme Pickett, he was an invaluable mentor during her career as publisher of The Equiery.

And Tim told our story, the story of the Maryland horse industry, to Maryland legislators.

In the MHC's nomination of Tim for the Van Ness, we wrote:

It is fair to say that everything that was accomplished in the Maryland horse industry at the state level from the mid-90s through the mid-2000s carried his fingerprints. 

Like a cruciate ligament, Tim was the connective tissue for the bones of the Maryland horse industry. He was critical in connecting the oft-disparate worlds of Thoroughbred racing and the sport/pleasure horse.  He helped the self-sufficient and self-contained Thoroughbred racing industry to understand that it needed the rest of the world if it was going to pursue objectives such as the legalization of slots, and that the sport/pleasure horse world was a logical constituency to woo for support.  At the same time, he made the sport/pleasure horse world, which often fretted that they were viewed as a second class tier to racing in the horse industry, feel valued and respected by the formal Thoroughbred industry. 

Essentially, Tim brokered understanding between and among the various segments in the horse industry. This was a major accomplishment, a tectonic shift in attitudes and expectations that has had beneficial ripple effects on every aspect of the industry ever since.

During his years in Maryland, Tim built a robust networking channel within the state's legislative and regulatory bodies. Tim knew not only the legislators, he knew their assistants, their supporters, and the various regulatory authorities that implemented legislation – helping MHC navigate and build critical relationships within the back halls of our state capital. 

That ability to broker understanding within the horse industry, coupled with his prolific legislative and regulatory network, and his innate ability to teach, helped guide the Maryland Horse Council on every legislative and regulatory success it had from the late 90s through the late 2000s, including but not limited to the creations of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, the first USDA/MDA equine census in Maryland, and the creation of the Maryland Feed Fund (which provides MHIB with its operating budget).  With Tim and through Tim, we learned that in order to accomplish change in state legislation and regulation, we did not go barging through front doors with our obviously brilliant concepts and visions. We started by following different paths, sometimes dirt paths, sometimes sidewalks, sometimes trails, to different influence makers within the system, and solicit their input and support.  And in so doing, we discovered how to make things happen. 

When we wanted to create a commodity board within the Maryland Department of Agriculture, it was Tim who found the path to do so by expanding the legislative mission of the existing State Board of Stable Inspectors. 

When we wanted to count the noses of horses in Maryland, it was Tim who found a way to do it through the USDA/MDA livestock census. It would not be a perfect census, but it would be a start.

When we wanted to find a way to fund the new Maryland Horse Industry Board, it was Tim who was able to work with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, via its office of Weights and Measures, to make an ag-style check-off program feasible. Once we had the regulatory body on board, we were able to work through the legislative process to establish "the feed fund," which today takes $2 from every bag of feed sold in Maryland to provide funding for the Maryland Horse Industry Board. Of course, getting the Thoroughbred world on board with the Feed Fund was also crucial to passing the legislation, and Tim made sure that happened. 

As MHC grew, Tim helped to guide every aspect of it, serving on numerous nominating committees over the years, helping to identify talent within the industry to serve on boards or committees and grow the Horse Council. 

It is impossible to list Tim's accomplishments, as he played a role, large or small, in all of MHC's accomplishments from 1996-2006.  The collective Maryland equestrian community is today seen by the Maryland government as a legitimate, large, and economically impactful industry due to Tim's wisdom, guidance, and vision – and his ability to finesse relationships.

American Horse Council's Press Release:  http://www.horsecouncil.org/press-release/tim-capps-awarded-2018-van-ness-award/