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Md. horse board praises study’s recommendations
By JONATHAN CRIBBS
LAYTONSVILLE, Md. (Sept. 22, 2015) — The Maryland Horse Industry Board praised last week the findings of a study it commissioned that calls for improvements to horse competition and recreational riding facilities at two locations in the state, the board’s chairman said.
The study, released by the Maryland Stadium Authority, recommended modernizing horse facilities at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Cecil County and The Show Place Arena and the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro.
The total cost would be between $19.6 million and $24 million at Fair Hill, a 5,656-acre site, and between $36 million and $45.4 million at the Prince George’s County site — costs that would eventually pay for themselves through increased interest in statewide equine activities, the report said.
“The board was very happy with the initial study,” said James Steele, the board’s chairman. “It’s a long, laborious process to get any of these things done.”
The board discussed the study at its Sept. 14 meeting at Waredaca, a riding facility in Montgomery County.
Among the improvements at Fair Hill: An overhaul of the 1930s-era track grandstand, more camping and RV hook-ups and upgrades to the steeplechase course, arenas and stables.
At Prince George’s: modernizing the arena, adding covered areas, improving stables and increasing camping facilities.
“We were interested in seeing how the different localities were going to accept the report,” Steele said. “We didn’t know if the price tags would back some people off.”
The report does not address another serious equine industry need in the state: an educational and museum location.
It was deliberately left out of the report because it didn’t fit the two sites discussed, Steele said.
Other locations include, possibly, Goucher College, among others, he said.
“We wanted it close to Baltimore or someplace where you’d get lots of people,” he said. “This is not going to be an event facility. … It’s not just racehorses. It’s not all dressage or cross-country. It’s a huge, huge industry.”