Thanks to the recent Kentucky Derby and Saturday's Preakness, nearly all the talk about horses in recent weeks centered on Thoroughbreds.

But, according to some Carroll County stable owners, the economy has not been easy for horse lovers in the last few years.

Still, they agree, the passion is there and things are looking brighter.

"There is a huge interest in horses," said Yonah Schulman, owner of Skyline Training Stables in Hampstead. "Carroll County still has some open spaces here not taken up by development. There are a lot of horses. A variety of different horses, too."

Schulman has offered lessons and training at Skyline for the last two years and had looked at other areas to purchase a farm before moving to Hampstead.

"To get what we have here, we would have had to double the amount," Schulman said. "I love Carroll County. There are plenty of places to go (ride)."

With her farm located near Piney Run Park, Elizabeth Patrick, owner of Waters Edge Farm, has plenty of opportunities to take her horses on rides through the park or nearby Morgan Run.

"Carroll County is very horse friendly and fairly affordable," Patrick said. "I love it."

At Waters Edge Farm, Patrick focuses on eventing — which requires horse and rider to compete in dressage, cross country and show jumping — as well as breeding.

In the past, she did boarding, but the economy put an end to that.

"For a lot of people in the area … it became unaffordable," Patrick said. "People had to sell their horses."

Patrick said it could cost up to $700 a month to board a horse.

For those who have their own barn, it still costs an average of $250 or more a month, according to Judy Reinke, owner of Misty Manor Riding Stables in Marriottsville.

She cited the cost of feed, veterinarian bills, farrier bills and farm upkeep as factors that can mean $3,000 or more a year in expenses.

"You have to love it. If you don't, you shouldn't be near a horse," Reinke said. "It is a whole lot of work. If you don't love them, you shouldn't be near them."

Reinke falls in the love category. She works hard to keep her business afloat by offering daily trail rides, boarding and lessons.

She also offers an animal rescue for those who can no longer keep their animals.

"There are seniors who want to keep their horse but can't feed it," Reinke said, "or, it is time for a horse to be put down, and they can't afford to do it."

This past winter was hard on many, as the cold weather and storms caused stables to go through their feed supply.

"For me personally, this past winter was hard," Schulman said. "Feed … was very expensive."