Horse industry put on display at state fair

Staff Writer

TIMONIUM, Md. (Sept. 8, 2015) — Maryland State Fair hosted the inaugural ‘MY Maryland Horse Festival/Horse Land’, Sept. 1-2, in the infield at the Maryland State Fairgrounds with an interested group of onlookers.
Horses, trainers and riders put on a show of horse-related activities while the audience received a lively narrative and a lot of good — and fun — information about the horses and what they were doing in the ring.
“My daughter came up with the idea,” Donald Litz said, “and I presented it to the board members and they loved it.”
Litz, who is a member of the fair’s board of directors and has been a director of the Maryland Horse Breeders for 18 years. He and his wife lives with his wife, Taffy, on their 30-acre Seven Dots Farm in Baltimore County.
“We have four daughters, three of whom are teachers, and two granddaughters,” he said, “and they have made me aware of how much children, at an early age, need contact with nature and with animals.
“My daughter brought her class to our farm. We didn’t structure anything,” Litz said. “They just brought their boots and were allowed to roam about the farm, looking at the animals, touching the grass.”
After some time, one little girl came running up to us in glee, her eyes wide, and said, excitedly, “I got lost!”
She had never been allowed to do that before and she thought it was wonderful.
Litz said he started reading more about the issue and how children today are suffering from what is called “nature deficit syndrome.
“Technology has pushed them over the edge and they need to get back to nature. I think this is a perfect opportunity with the number of people who visit our fair.”
At the state fair, he said, they can feel and touch the animals including small horses and ponies and get some experience of farm life in general.
The Horse Festival has more than 150 volunteers some of whom ride and explain what they are doing and why, give demonstrations with the animals and, for those who wish, there are also rides in a wagon pulled by a team of Clydesdales from Suttler Post Farm in Mechanicsville, Md
There is also a large tent adjacent to the ring, that people can walk through, that is  filled with animals, including, this year, two Chincoteague foals, a painter who paints on horses, equipment and information, and where they can ask questions, and learn more about the horse business in general, and children can actually dress in jockey silks.
While the horses go through their paces, facts and information are given by an announcer, and sometimes the riders themselves, about the animals, the riders and all they are doing.
“It’s so good to see the children’s faces light up - and their mother’s too,” Litz said. “And something else I would like to see developed at State Fair, is a playground with Natural Play Spaces, to show the visitors more about nature.”