Letter from the Publisher


by Kimberly K. Egan and Corinne M. Pouliquen It’s the start of the Maryland Horse Council’s fi scal year, which means

the new MHC board members and the new MHC offi cers offi cially be- gin their terms. We are excited to get to work as your Co-Presidents, and we want to use our fi rst Presidents’ Letter to give you a sense of our plans for the next two years. We cannot start, however, without recognizing the prodigious accom- plishments of our predecessor, Neil Agate. Neil shepherded the Maryland Horse Council through what was prob-

ably the most tumultuous period in its 35-year history. In his fi rst six months in offi ce, Neil successfully negotiated the purchase of T e Equi- ery, which took MHC’s ability to communicate with its members and with the horse community at large to a new level. T e Equiery expanded MHC’s on-line presence and its social media reach, transforming MHC from an organization with an annual budget in the range of $25,000, to an organization with an annual budget in the $350,000 range. Neil also presided over the creation of the Maryland Equine Transition

Service (METS), and shortly thereafter, T e Maryland Horse Council Foundation. T e METS program went from nothing at the beginning of 2018 to an important part of the equine safety-net by 2021. METS has re-homed over 100 horses in just three years. T e Foundation has grown into a free-standing 501(c)(3), with its own Board and its own donor base. It is the offi cial home of the METS program and is well on its way to developing new programming to benefi t the Maryland horse industry. Last but not least, Neil spent the last 15 months of his term guiding MHC through the COVID pandemic. T e pandemic aff ected MHC op- erations just as it aff ected horse operations across the state. Neil worked tirelessly with the Maryland Horse Industry Board and the Maryland Department of Agriculture to open up horse businesses as soon as pos- sible, and he was instrumental in convincing the Department of Natural Resources to allow trail riders back on public lands. Any one of these events would be a challenge for any president – that

Neil faced down all three during his tenure is a testament to his dedica- tion to the Maryland Horse Council and his faith in its ability to do good and necessary work for all segments of our industry. T e two of us hope to build on MHC’s current momentum by focusing

on three areas: 1. Our Membership. As a membership organization, there really is nothing more important than nurturing our current members and reach- ing out to new ones. Our new Membership Committee will focus on expanding member benefi ts, developing eff ective recruitment materials, developing internal membership communications materials, and plan-

ning members-only social events. We plan to increase the educational value we push out to members by off ering webinars and town halls on the issues like non-chemical strategies for EHV-1 prevention and how to apply for state bond funds. We plan to re-double our recruiting eff orts in Washington County, Allegany County, and Garrett County, as well as in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore. We are planning new recruiting initiatives to increase membership participation from previ- ously under-represented disciplines, including barrel racing, competitive trail riding, cutting, driving, endurance riding, harness racing, jousting, reining, rodeo riding, western dressage, and working equitation. And we plan to work harder to make sure the MHC membership is repre- sentative of all horse people in Maryland, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, physical or other ability, or socio- economic status. Variety is the spice of life. 2. Our Reach. As a trade association, our very reason for being is to

represent the horse industry to state and local government. Eff ective ad- vocacy requires eff ective community organizing and eff ective legislative outreach. We hope to improve the breadth and depth of our substantive reach by upgrading our software tools, our digital re-marketing tools, and our on-line advocacy tools. We need to bring our contact management platforms up to the highest possible standard and streamline our pro- cesses for managing information about potential sponsors, likely legisla- tive allies, and important and strategic industry contacts. As a state-wide organization, we also need to make sure that any member in any part of the state can easily access our robust educational resources, our writ- ten testimony in Annapolis, our member benefi ts information, and other MHC information on-line. Data management is not the sexiest topic, to be sure, but if we do it right, the results should blow your socks off . 3. Our Finances. We cannot accomplish either of the two goals above

if we don’t also tend to our fi nances. All roads lead to the bank. We have already started a top-to-bottom review of our structure and our programs to weed out ineffi ciencies and free up volunteer and staff time for new initiatives. We are actively searching to fi ll out MHC’s political action committee board so that we can build a war chest to fund our legislative initiatives. And we are brainstorming innovative fundraising events that we hope will uncover previously un-tapped streams of cash and coin. We expect these areas will keep us plenty busy for the next two years. But with a lot of hard work, a little luck, and plenty of help from our friends, we can take MHC to the next level, for the benefi t of us all.

Thank You To Our Maryland Horse Council Sponsors! 6 | JULY 2021 | THE EQUIERY YOUR MARYLAND HORSE COUNCIL PUBLICATION 800-244-9580 |

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