Karen Fulton, co-owner of Full Moon Farm near Gamber, spent the Monday morning introducing visitors to her miniature pony, Phillip.
Taking a picture with Phillip is one of the "challenges" of The Maryland Horse Chase, a three-week statewide scavenger hunt designed to introduce people to the joys of horses and to showcase the state's new network of Horse Discovery Centers.
"It's a fun way to get people interested in horses," said Fulton. "It's a little bit like being a restaurant… being a Horse Discovery Center is like getting four-stars. There are countless restaurants, but only a select number that are rated highly."
Fulton welcomed more than 100 people to her farm at the kick-off of the Maryland Horse Chase on Monday, April 6. The chase is sponsored by the Maryland Horse Industry Board, a program within the Maryland Department of Agriculture. The Horse Chase scavenger hunt runs through April 26.
"Maryland has more horses per acre than any state in the union," said Jim Steele, chairman of the Horse Industry Board. "We want everyone to have a positive, fun experience and learn what diverse opportunities the centers have to offer."
Roxann Baldwin, owner of Sweet Rock Stables, Inc. in Manchester, said the chase is a great way to into the horse industry.
"We're number 20 on the map," Baldwin said. "We'll have a scavenger scramble table where visitors will match the horse-related item to a riddle and a halter challenge to teach people more about how to handle horses."
There will also be opportunities to earn points by answering bonus challenges. Participants who earn the most points will be able to redeem them for nearly 130 horse-themed prizes, like a night at Rolling Hills Ranch's bed and breakfast in Port Deposit.
All entrants will receive free admission tickets to the 2015 Maryland Million, a day of races for Maryland-sired runners, on Oct. 17; horse treats provided by Flax Jax, the official treat sponsor of the Maryland Horse Chase, and other items.
Jennifer, Dave and Katrina Kottra, of Taylorsville, started their Maryland Horse Chase experience Monday at Full Moon Farm. The family plans to visit other sites throughout the challenge.