The region’s newest heritage trail, “Hoofbeats Through History: The Southern Maryland Historic Horse Trail,” offers an online network of destinations highlighting the important role of horses in the area’s culture and heritage.
Since the first settlers set foot here in the early 1600s, horses have been a part of Southern Maryland. The website encompasses sites where the cavalry camped during the Civil War, stops along an early stage coach route, plus plantations and manor houses dating back to Colonial days, when horses pulled carriages and plowed fields.
Several sites exemplify Southern Maryland’s role in the Thoroughbred racing industry, and others showcase Maryland’s state sport (jousting) and the long tradition of the fox chase. At several destinations, visitors can examine centuries-old equine-related artifacts unearthed in the area. Photos, anecdotes and other historic information collected for this regional trail will become part of a state-wide archive of equine history.
The trail website includes descriptions, stories, photos, hours and directions for the key sites, and online galleries of documents and articles. The website lists the area’s Horse Discovery Centers, carefully selected, licensed stables where visitors can learn about horses in a friendly and knowledgeable environment. Horseback riding trails, active working horse farms and equine-related events are also listed. SMADC played a key role in creating the Southern Maryland trail, with support from the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB). The Southern Maryland Trail is the second regional driving trail to be completed as part of MHIB’s larger Maryland Historic Horse Trail, a network of heritage trails across the state.
“We expect this newest Historic Horse Trail will draw visitors from across the state and beyond,” said Ross Peddicord, executive director of the MHIB, a program of the Maryland Department of Agriculture. “Maryland has this great horse history, going way back to the 1600s, and it was all just slipping away, disappearing. The Historic Horse Trail is an attempt to document that history and make it easy for visitors to access it and enjoy it, and maybe introduce them to the active horse culture we have today.”
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