Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Important Alert! Action needed NOW to safeguard the Prince George's Equestrian Center! OPPOSE SB 15!

The Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee of the Maryland State Senate is currently considering a bill (SB 15) that poses a serious threat to the future of the Prince George's Equestrian Center. This bill calls for a commission to study "how to protect and enhance the competitive position of The Show Place Arena in the public assembly marketplace," as well as a study of its current operations and management. There are numerous problems with this bill, the most significant of which is it separates the Show Place arena out as the subject of the study, and does not consider it as part of the entire Equestrian center. This will inevitably skew the results of the study in a way that does not accurately represent the important role the entire equestrian center, Show Place Arena plus the other arenas, barns, parking, etc., plays in Maryland equestrian life. It is significant that the bill's preamble refers to the Show Place Arena as "a multipurpose arena in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, which is used for concerts, sporting events, trade shows, and other events," and does not specifically refer to equestrian uses. Another problem is that the bill provides for only one representative of the equine industry on the 14 member commission.

As stated by Dorothy Troutman, President of the Maryland Equestrian Foundation and former Co-chair of the Prince Georges Equine Industry Task Force:
"Our Park and Planning Commission has already requested that the Stadium Authority conduct two studies—one to evaluate the economic fiscal market and impact of the entire facility and the other to review and evaluate the operation and managerial structure. These studies would be for the Show Place Arena and the surrounding Prince George’s Equestrian Center—the existing show rings and barns, parking areas, and the abandoned Marlboro Race Track and infield. The Commission is also in the process of developing a Master Plan to utilize the entire area for equestrian and other purposes and is arranging a drainage system for the infield."
So this bill is unnecessary and potentially very harmful.

Here is the full text of the bill:

Please write TODAY to the committee members, expressing your OPPOSITION to SB 15.

Here is contact info:
Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee (EHE)
2 West, Miller Senate Building, Annapolis, MD 21401 (410-841-3661 Annapolis/Baltimore or 301-858-3661 Washington, D.C.)
Chair: Joan Carter Conway
Vice Chair: Roy P. Dyson
Joanne Benson SB 15's sponsor

Be sure to include any personal information you can about your use/enjoyment of this facility as an equestrian, and if you are in any of these legislator's districts, be sure to let them know that, too! You can find out who your legislators are at:

For more information, contact Jane Seigler at

Ocean City considering allowing winter riding on the beach

From OCEAN CITY -- An ordinance that would allow equestrians to bring their horses to Ocean City's beach has lost some Town Council support, but it will move to a second reading in February.

"I really didn't want this to be the next 4-3 vote," said Council President Jim Hall, just before a 4-3 vote was handed in by the council. Hall, Joe Hall, Brent Ashley and Margaret Pillas voted in favor of moving toward allowing horseback riding on beaches from Nov. 1-March 30, while Lloyd Martin, Mary Knight and Doug Cymek dissented.

Jim Hall said he was willing to try horseback riding for 90 days, and that if there were issues with it, the council could do away with it, a sentiment Joe Hall shared.

"It's a new idea, kind of a novel idea, and I think it's worth a try," Jim Hall said.

If passed, riders could purchase a $50-per-horse permit to ride as often as they'd like from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. during the resort's offseason. Councilman Brent Ashley first brought the idea to the council months ago as a way to boost tourism during a season when the town is not highly occupied -- especially its beaches.

Council voted 6-1 at a recent work session to move forward with the ordinance; Martin was the only no-vote at that time, he said he felt it'd be difficult to regulate the horses. He reiterated that Monday, saying he doesn't think the town could get every equestrian to be responsible for disposing of their horse's excrement.

If a rider was caught not cleaning up after his or her horse, they would be hit with a $500 fine for a municipal infraction, according to City Solicitor Guy Ayres, who drew up the ordinance.

Ashley read from an Environmental Protection Agency report that says horse manure is a solid waste excluded from regulation because it "neither contains significant amounts of listed hazardous components, nor exhibits hazardous properties."

Knight said she is more worried about the perception people will have that horse manure is on the resort's beaches, whether it can be harmful to health or not. She's had an outpouring of people tell her they did not want manure on the beaches, she said.

"Perception -- and I hate this phrase -- is reality," Knight said.

Cymek told Ashley he understood the good he was trying to do by expanding tourism, but that he thinks the cost of allowing horseback riding would outweigh the benefit.

Ashley said he thinks people are looking for problems to shoot down ideas.

"We don't always have to be a 'city of no,' " he said. He said also that if equestrians stick to the waterline, the horse manure will be washed to sea with the tide.

410-213-9442, ext. 14

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Maryland Legislature is in session!

Click here to see the Washington Post's guide to the Maryland Legislative session: