Issues Overview

The Horse Council’s members includes over 40 breed, interest and discipline associations, plus horse farms and stables, horse-related businesses, and horse owners. Our members represent all facets of the Maryland equestrian community, from the owners of race horses and race tracks, to the owners of international level competition horses, local sport horses, trail horses or just beloved retired companion horses, plus vets, tack stores, other equine-related businesses, and enthusiasts throughout the state.

MHC’s Role in Legislation

A significant component of our core mission is to lobby state and local government for sensible and economically sound legislation and regulations on behalf of our diverse constituency. The range of issues we work on includes equine welfare, employment and labor, environment, land use and zoning, transportation and motor vehicle, parks and trails, energy, insurance and liability, taxation, revenue and funding, open space preservation, Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing, and more.

You can see our current Policy Positions here.

Although we work with state regulatory agencies and some local governments as the need arises, the majority of the work of the Government Relations Committee is with the state legislature, the Maryland General Assembly. Our legislative and policy work is guided by policies adopted by our Board of Directors. We consider new policies as legislative circumstances change and as the need arises.

Photo by Charles Toler

The 47 state senators and 141 state delegates meet in Annapolis each year from mid-January to mid-April. During the ninety day “Session,” the legislature will consider over 2,500 bills. The Government Relations Committee reviews each one, and determines whether and how the Horse Council will take action, which may include submitting written testimony as well as testifying in person at the bill hearings. Almost without exception, each of the bills introduced in a session will have a public hearing, so January to April is a very busy time for us! In addition to our own efforts, we also regularly reach out to our members to ask them to contact their legislators in support of or in opposition to a bill, and sometimes to join us in Annapolis to testify at a hearing or meet privately with a legislator. This in-person contact is the most powerful and effective tool in our lobbying toolbox. 

A few of our recent legislative accomplishments include:

  • requiring those who lease state land adjacent to public trail heads to maintain access for trail riders and first responders, 
  • negotiating a comprehensive law on procedures following seizure of abused and neglected equines
  • broadening the state law prohibiting interference with horses to include harassment of carriage horses.

Horse Council PAC

The second most powerful tool in our toolbox is our Horse Council PAC. For better or for worse, money talks in politics. The very existence of our PAC means that we get the attention of legislators and candidates. Our ability to financially support those officials who support us is crucial to the success of our mission, so please contribute to the PAC today!

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