February 2017 Issue - page 1

Vol. 24 No. 2
Our 24th Year
1993-2017
February 2017
(Continued on page 21)
PRSRT STD
U.S. POSTAGE
PAID
PERMIT 280
LANC., PA 17604
By Suzanne Bush
Equestrians throughout the
region are scrambling to find and
preserve open space for horses
and equine activities. Meanwhile,
the Maryland Stadium Authority
(MSA) and Maryland Horse In-
dustry Board (MHIB) are dusting
off the welcome mat and looking
for ways to expand equestrian
activities, attract more horses and
horse people, and create venues
for more world-class equestrian
competition.
They’re responding to a
2016 study of the economic
impact of the horse industry in
the state. It was an eye-opener.
The industry is the source of
more than 9,000 jobs, and $1.15
billion—yes, that’s
billion
—in
annual economic activity.
The racing industry is an im-
portant part of this calculus. But
the people at MSA and MHIB are
focusing attention and resources
on developing equestrian sports
venues in Fair Hill in Elkton and
at Prince Georges Equestrian
Center.
A First-Class Four
Star Venue?
There are currently six ven-
ues in the world where Concours
Complet Internationale Four-
Star (CCI4*) events can be held.
Currently the only venue in the
United States that can host these
four-star events is the Kentucky
Horse Park, which hosts the
four star Rolex Kentucky Three
Day Event. The Federation
Equestre Internationale (FEI)
has been looking for another US
venue for their four-star events,
and Fair Hill is one of five US
venues that are vying to host a
fall 4-star event in either 2018
or 2019. They, along with Great
Meadows and Morven Park
Equestrian Center in Virginia,
Ocala Jockey Club in Florida
FEI Eyes Fair Hill As A Site for Four Star Events Beginning As Early as 2018
and Tryon International Eques-
trian Center in North Carolina
are awaiting a decision from the
United States Equestrian Feder-
ation (USEF), which has been
working with FEI to identify
appropriate venues. The USEF
board was scheduled to make
a decision at their mid-January
board meeting.
“They’re hoping to narrow
the field at that meeting and con-
tinue discussions with the nar-
rower group,” Carla Geiersbach
says. She is the Executive Di-
rector of Fair Hill, and explains
that numerous improvements
to the Fair Hill venue would be
required.
Ross Peddicord, Executive
Director of the MHIB says that
the improvements would turn
Fair Hill—already a spectacu-
lar equine facility—into a truly
world-class venue. All of this is
the culmination of years of study,
coalition-building, strategic
planning and negotiation. It was
a happy coincidence that, a year
ago, USEF put out a request for
proposal, asking for hosts of
three-star events that would like
to begin hosting four-star events.
“So, my heavens, we were
told this was kind of a once-
in-a-lifetime opportunity. We
met with the Fair Hill Inter-
national board, and they were
kind of split on whether or not
they could handle something
like that.” Peddicord says they
contacted the MSA for input and
advice. He says the MSA was
originally created to build and
maintain stadiums for profes-
sional baseball and football, but
in the intervening 25 years, the
group has helped universities,
local governments and private
entities develop convention cen-
ters, museums, etc.
Soon after, the Fair Hill
International board voted unani-
mously to develop a proposal for
USEF, and committed to signifi-
cant capital improvements. “They
would bring the cross-country
(course) over to the race course,”
he explains. Right now the two
are far apart, and Fair Hill Inter-
national can’t live- stream events
because the course is so remote in
the park. “You could have jumps
right in front of the stands.” Fair
Hill’s race course has some tight
turns, and because the base soil is
clay, it gets hard enough to seri-
ously limit its use. So, Peddicord
says they’ll need to install an
irrigation system. “What’s needed
is to reconfigure the race track,
widen the turns, put the rings for
Dressage and Grand Prix jumping
into the infield and build out VIP
seating from the grandstand.”
It’s a tall order, made even more
ambitious by the plan to develop
a turf racing and training center at
Fair Hill.
Making the Dream
Come True
Fair Hill Natural Resourc-
es Area is home to more than
horses. Nearly 100 years ago
William duPont began acquiring
what would eventually become
more than 7,000 contiguous
acres of pristine woodland along
the Maryland/Pennsylvania
border. An avid horseman, he
wanted to create a place where
he could race horses and fox-
hunt. He spent years developing
the course that would eventually
be used for steeplechasing—
ensuring that the footing was
perfect. In addition to creating
a place where he could indulge
his equestrian pursuits, duPont
wanted to preserve the space for
nature. When he died in 1965,
the state bought the 5,000+ acres
in Maryland and preserved the
space forever.
Peddicord says that, in addi-
tion to the equestrian enterprises
on the site, Fair Hill is home to
Freeze brands help rescued horses
find their way home … pg. 4
USDA equine study included
Pennsylvania in 2015 … pg. 20
Butenschoen moves to PA, wins $2.3
million in 2016 … pg. 25
Twin foals – is that a thing? … pg. 22
…and much more!
Inside...
Barns, Arenas and Footing
feature … pgs. 8 - 19
The Fair Hill Natural Resources Area on the Pennsylvania/Maryland border hosts the annual Dutta
Corporation Fair Hill International Three Day Event. Improvements will upgrade the facility, which
is under consideration for hosting FEI four star events.
Photo credit: Alissa Norman
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