Elizabeth “Binnie” Houghton, a thoroughbred horse breeder and animal lover, died of a respiratory condition Monday at Buckingham Farm, her Chestertown home. She was 79.
Born in New York City, she was the daughter of Anderson Fowler, who also owned race horses, and his wife, Genevieve Brady. Family members were prominent New York City bankers. Her uncle, James Cox Brady, was chairman of the New York Racing Association.
She was raised in Gladstone, N.J. and was a graduate of the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va.
She married Edward Houghton, a well-known horseman, in 1960. They moved to Buckingham Farm overlooking the Chester River in Kent County.
“My mother was extraordinarily in love with every living creature,” said her daughter, Genevieve Pierce of Ennis, Mont. “She was an animal lover from the bottom of her heart. She wouldn’t turn a rescue donkey down.”
Her daughter recalled that Mrs. Houghton drove around her farm with buckets of horse treats in the back of her car.
“The horses knew her and saw her coming,” said her daughter. “She also had a can of corn for the geese along the dock at Chestertown. They could spot her car when she arrived.”
"The Houghtons — Binnie and her late husband, Eddie, — were part of an influx of well-heeled out-of-state horse breeders who were attracted to move to Maryland in the 1960s and ’70s because of our thriving ]thoroughbred industry and breeders’ incentive programs,” said Ross Peddicord, a longtime friend. “Folks like the Houghtons, Jim Lewis,Cynthia McGinnes and Kim Firestone. They brought energy and resources, established beautiful farms and bred good horses.
"Binnie had a razor wit and absolute love and devotion to animals and the land,” said Mr. Peddicord, director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board. “I think for something like 30 straight years she and Eddie either bred, raised or raced a stakes winner each year. They developed Buckingham Farm that fronts on the Chester River into one of the most beautiful horse farms in Maryland and placed it into farmland preservation programs."
Mrs. Houghton owned the thoroughbreds Castelets, Gallorette, He Loves Me, Laplander, Timely Warning, Master Speaker, Forry Cow How, Top of the News, Kalli and Roaring Lion, among others.
"The Hougtons were world travelers, owned land out west and raced mules out there as well as maintaining their East Coast thoroughbreds,” said Mr. Peddicord. “They had an animal sanctuary on their farm with all kinds of animals and had a bronze likeness cast of one of their favorite pigs."
A 2011 article in The Maryland Horse described the animals she kept, in addition to her thoroughbreds: “Also in residence… are five ponies, two mules, three donkeys and five llamas — along with the farm’s typically generous array of thoroughbred pensioners.”
“We take care of them so well they tend to live forever,” she said in that story.
"She and her husband were inseparable as a couple, but Binnie managed to soldier on after her beloved husband died,” Mr. Peddicord said.
"One of the horses raised on their farm, Green Alligator, finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and the Derby winner, Barbaro, descended from generations of horses bred and raised by the Houghtons and Binnie's father, Anderson Fowler,” he said.
Mrs. Houghton’s horses wore yellow and green racing silks. She belonged to the Jockey Club, the sport's governing body based in New York and Kentucky.
She was also a member of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.
Mrs. Houghton was active with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and the Maryland Environmental Trust.
She previously rode with the Flint Hill Hounds. When she stopped active riding, she followed the local Kent County pack in her white Mercedes sport utility vehicle — nicknamed “White Stallion.”
She was a past board member of the Kent County Humane Society and Kent School. She was a member of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church. She also enjoyed visits to a Montana ranch in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
Plans for a private memorial are incomplete.
In addition to her daughter, survivors include another daughter, Kim Houghton Johnson of Landing, N.J.; four granddaughters; and a great grandson. Her husband of 48 years died in 2008.