Discovering the horse ... again, and buying locally

Lots of new things to talk about this week which is a very good thing because, after 20 years of weekly columns, I need all the help I can get, as readers are probably already aware.

The best and most important new thing is that the Maryland Department of Agriculture has a MD Horse Board, not exactly a new thing, but that this year the MD Horse Industry Board, which has quietly been certifying stables across the state for this project, is recommending a group of Horse Discovery Centers for people who always wanted to get closer to horses but who lacked the knowledge of where to start.


As it happens these certified Horse Discovery Centers are actually already horse farms in business in each county that will be open to the public to take the time to answer questions from potential clients or simply wishful folks with time on their hands. Most of the counties in MD have farms in them responding to the call for interaction with potential horse persons but Carroll County has one of the largest contingents of farms that decided to become approved Horse Discovery Centers. Currently listed with the Horse Industry Board are: Darenth Farm, Mt. Airy (301-471-1254,; Full Moon Farm, Finksburg (410-795-8371,; Nagrom Farm, Westminster (410-346-6448,; Persimmon Tree Farm, Westminster (410-876-8645,; River Valley Ranch, Manchester (410-374-8295,; Sweet Rock Stables, Manchester (410-374-3870,; Talbot Run Equestrian Center, Mount Airy (410-635-3842,

The Retreat at Beckleysville, Hampstead (443-465-7809, is one of those farms just outside the border, in Baltimore County, much like Days End Farm Horse Rescue, Woodbine (301-854-5037,, which is actually in Howard County, but who's counting county lines anyway when it is within a stone's throw of Carroll County?


You can also go straight to the governmental horse's mouth at if you wish, although I bet that you will get better answers from the actual horse people on the farms.

This is the time for anyone who ever wanted to be a horse person, a cowboy, a cowgirl or one of those fashionable looking hunter or dressage riders to take up their dreams and fashion them into, if not plowshares, at least feats of accomplishments that will take them to farms that will welcome their questions. Remember there are no stupid questions, although I have often heard stupid answers, usually from politicians. I wonder just how that works. Maybe a wrinkle in time that warps brain waves?

Coming up in April there will be a Scavenger Hunt of the Horse Discovery Farms that involves going from horse farm to horse farm with your camera in hand taking "selfies" of yourself in the process of being on the road to equine wisdom and the all that is inimitably horse. There should be a Facebook page of this, right? Right?

One assumes, rightly or wrongly, that there should be prizes, too! Don't blame me if there are not prizes, I am only the reporter here. That would be like shooting the messenger, not that several messengers have not been shot, historically speaking.

And so, on to other things! I am a great believer in buying locally. In this icky weather and with the late unlamented outrageous gas prices I am also a great believer in buying from Amazon Prime but we aren't talking about that right now. We are talking about buying locally and using locally based services.

One of the things that I found out about hiking my art work out to be seen (as there is yet no line being beaten to my door) is that dealing with easels is a tricky undertaking. They take up a lot of space on the floor of relatively small and rather expensive venues that you rent for the day. Easels are tippy things too, creating havoc within that space. They can generally hold one print or picture. All in all not your best bet for display, even though they are traditionally correct.

I went searching for something better and I found it. But, oh my, the cost of the item and shipping price involved! So I found John Mullinix, who is a welder located on Hoods Mill Road. John asked me to e-mail him the information and he agreed to fabricate those items for appreciatively less than the price of the original object. John's number is 410-795-2419 just in case any of you want to have some work done locally instead of globally.

My new motto is: You can do it better, less expensively and a lot closer if you just look for it. Usually.


Hope Holland is the Times' equestrian writer. Reach her at 410-857-7896 or