BALTIMORE, MD (May 13, 2014) – Since the first settlers arrived at St. Mary's City in the mid-17th century, horses and equestrian events have been an integral part of Maryland’s rich history, evoking time-honored traditions, exploration, and charm. In fact, the Maryland Jockey Club, the oldest sporting organization in North America, was established in Maryland in 1743. Today, every third Sunday in May, the state hosts the annual running of the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel in racing’s famous Triple Crown, at historic Pimlico race course.
It’s no wonder that horse enthusiasts can find so much to do, whether it is riding the trails, watching the races, or show jumping horses in Maryland. “The opportunities are endless when planning an excursion to Maryland with horses in mind,” says Margot Amelia, executive director of the Maryland Office of Tourism. “The state offers hundreds of miles of riding trails and more than 50 equestrian events throughout the year, making it the perfect place for visitors to experience horses in Maryland, from a park to a horse farm or an equestrian center.”
"There is nothing quite like the bonds that people forge with horses. It is almost magical," said Ross Peddicord, executive director, Maryland Horse Industry Board. “Horses bring Marylanders closer to nature and promote a healthy, active lifestyle. This May, visit one of Maryland’s many licensed stables for some equie fun."
Here is a sampling of locations in Maryland that offer riding or racing experiences:
Saddle up and head to the mountains of Deep Creek Lake at Western Trails Riding Stable. From 4-mile long guided trail rides through open fields and wooded mountainsides to hand-led pony rides for the little ones, Western Trails Riding Stable offers a variety of experiences for a family, including a hayride and cozy campfire under the stars.
Take in the beautiful valley and mountains on a horse drawn carriage from Pleasant Valley Dream Rides, located in Oakland, Md. Tour the Amish dairy farm before embarking on your carriage journey. Your guide will offer local knowledge while you enjoy the scenery.
Join the hunt on May 18 at the annual Potomac Hunt Races, an annual tradition in Montgomery County. Celebrating the sport of steeplechase racing, the Potomac Hunt also includes family-friendly events, such as a car display, a moon bounce, mounted police demonstrations, pony rides, and a vendor row.
Give horseback riding a try for free at Reddeemeade Equestrian Center in Silver Spring, Md. Introductory lessons occur every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. All you need is jeans, comfy close-toed shoes, and a smile. Meet the team and their horses before enrolling in lessons.
Meet all your horse’s needs—and your own fashion finds—at the Surrey in Darnestown, Md. Founded in 1953, the Surrey has been outfitting Washington-area riders and their horses for more than 60 years. Realizing that horseback riding can be an expensive hobby, the Surrey also accepts gently used riding clothing and supplies, including saddles, for sale in their store at reduced prices.
Volunteer at Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Md. The non-profit, volunteer-based organization is dedicated to helping horses in need and making a difference. Even children aged 12-17 are able to volunteer as part of the Legacy Program, which allows them to learn more about running a farm and taking care of horses.
Ford the Patuxent River on an adventurous trail ride through River Bottom Trail Riders in Damascus, Md. Offering two or three hour guided trail rides through the Patuxent River State Forest, River Bottom Trail Riders is for experienced and advanced equestrians. Bring your own horse and ride for a reduced rate.
Trot along the Patapsco River on one of the maintained trails or make your own path wandering the miles of untouched nature, including ridges lined with pine groves. Finish your ride looking out over the Liberty Dam with a scenic view.
The Greenwell Foundation in St. Mary’s County works in partnership with the Maryland Park Service to provide accessible and inclusive programs including therapeutic and recreational riding lessons. Their early intervention equine program allows young children, aged 3-7, with disabilities gain confidence while learning to trust horses.
With acres of rolling pastures and miles of trails, Kent County has a variety of farms and stables for riders, including Kent Equestrian Center and Airy Hill Stables, which offer lessons for any level of learner as well as summer camps for kids.
On May 24, enjoy Cecil County’s Fair Hill Races, which has been a Maryland Steeplechase tradition since 1934. The race provides a range of activities including Stick Pony races for the kids, a live band, dozens of merchants, and a variety of delicious foods for sale.
Visit Maryland’s own wild horses on Assateague Island. Whether you believe they are descendants of the colonists’ horses from long ago or the survivors of a Spanish galleon shipwreck, Maryland’s herd of wild ponies are beautiful and extraordinary. The horses roam freely on the island, managed by the National Park Service.
Don’t miss the Tuckahoe Equestrian Center (TEC), a non-profit organization in Queen Anne’s County that promotes all equestrian activities such as 4-H, games days, trail riding, jousting, parades, and horse shows. A few of the upcoming events include the TEC Poker Ride and Breakfast on May 31, as well as a Fun and Games Day for riders and carriage drivers alike on June 15, hosted by the Delmarva Driving Club and TEC.
About Maryland Tourism
The Maryland Office of Tourism is an agency of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts within the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. Visitors to the state spent more than $14.9 billion on travel-related expenses in 2012. During 2012, the Maryland tourism industry also generated $2 billion in state and local taxes, and provided more than 135,000 jobs for Maryland residents.