Ross Peddicord: Leading Us Forward

by Katherine O. Rizzo When Ross Peddicord took on the role of

Executive Director of the Maryland Horse In- dustry Board in January 2011, he never thought that the biggest issue the Maryland horse com- munity would face during his tenure would be a global pandemic. But as the state shut down this past March, Peddicord began receiving phone calls and emails pretty much 24 hours a day from industry leaders and farm owners wondering “what now?” MHIB is part of the Maryland Department

of Agriculture, so along with MDA leadership, Peddicord began helping the horse community move forward under ever-changing restrictions and guidelines. Now, as the majority of these COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, but the virus continues to devastate the country, Peddicord continues to lead the industry for- ward, adapting and improving along the way.

Maryland-bred Peddicord is a lifelong Marylander, raised in

Howard County on a dairy farm. He was active in 4-H from an early age, showing cows and learning about farming. It was not until he was 12 years old that Peddi- cord first became inter- ested in horses. “I went to McDonough at that time and started to ride there,” he explained. At McDonogh, Ped-

dicord’s roommate was none other than future Olympic


eventer Bruce David- son. “Bruce got a lot of attention for his riding even back then while the rest of us just sol- diered on,” Peddicord said with a chuckle. Trough McDonogh, Peddicord rode on the school’s equestrian team and graduated as a lieutenant from its Mounted Cavalry Unit. From McDonogh, Peddicord headed to

Maryland’s Eastern Shore where he attended Washington College in Chestertown. “Tat’s where I took to foxhunting and got to ride with Mr. Hubbard’s [Kent County] Hounds,” Ped- dicord said. During his college years, Peddicord also continued to show and began riding in lo- cal point-to-point races. He graduated in 1971 with a B.A. in American Studies.

A Writing Start Peddicord’s first job out of college was writ-

ing for the Horsemen’s Journal where he earned a TRA award and was offered a job with Te Baltimore Sun. Instead of taking Te Baltimore | 800-244-9580

Sun’s offer, Peddicord dove head first into the Mid- Atlantic’s racing world, working his way up from groom to trainer. “I worked primarily at Charles Town and Pimlico and had some horses for Senator [James] Clark,” he said. “Really it was working at the track that I got to know pretty much everyone in Mary- land’s

racing world, like

Tom Voss and others.” It was these connections

and experiences that ulti- mately made Peddicord the award-winning journalist that he is, as he eventually did take that job with the Sun and remained there for 18-years as the paper’s racing journalist. “I knew all about [the sport] from the inside,” he explained. Peddicord also lent his talent to the newly-established Equiery as a guest journalist! Peddicord said his most prominent memory

of writing for the Sun was a four-part series called “Te Last Ride.” Written in 1989, the se- ries followed horses from a Mary- land auction to a slaughterhouse in Connecticut to the meat being shipped abroad and ending up as sausages at European football matches.

“It was

Ross Peddicord in his McDonogh Mounted Cavalry Unit uniform on a horse named Gus

meant as a story detailing the partial economic collapse at that time of the horse business but helped spark the move to ban U.S.

horse slaughter,” he remarked. Te series won numerous awards including Best Newspaper Story of the Year by the MD-DC- Del chapter of the Society of Profes- sional Journalists and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. “It was a finalist, but didn’t win!” Peddicord stated. “I first met Ross in the spring of

1988,” said Jennifer Webster, former Equiery Associate Publisher and fellow McDonogh alum. Webster was a se- nior at McDonogh and completed her six week-long senior project in journal- ism with Peddicord as her mentor. “At the time, he was writing and

handicapping for Te Baltimore Sun. We had never so much as spoken be- fore and whatever this shy and inse-

Ross Peddicord riding Paul Swett’s Sunshine at the 1967 Green Spring Hunter Trials


Ross Peddicord (center) with Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and Jay Griswold of the Fair Hill Foundation at the 2019 Maryland Horse Industry Legislative Day in Annapolis.

cure girl had envisioned about what Ross would be or look like, was 100% not the smiling, spill- ing over with enthusiasm character who greeted me, sitting on a desk in the Press Box at Pimlico, wearing an untucked red polo shirt and khaki shorts and sneakers (I, of course, was in business attire, because what else does a budding journal- ist wear on her first day at work?), eating a Good Humor ice cream bar,” she remarked. “I was in- stantly hooked and he has been one of my most favorite people ever since.” Webster worked with Peddicord again nearly

two decades later at Maryland Life. “Nobody better personifies the Maryland horse industry than Ross Peddicord,” Webster added. “He eats, lives, breathes and sleeps Maryland horses and horse people and he has an incredible knack for building alliances and creating unity between the most unlikely partners and the growth of the industry during his time of passionate lead- ership is undeniable.” During his time with the Sun, Peddicord and

his now-former wife Stephanie, opened Brush Hill Farm in New Market where they bred and trained Toroughbreds. Tey showed their homebreds in hand at the Maryland State Fair

and Maryland Horse Shows Association shows continued...

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