Foxhunters Focus on the Future: Land

By The Equiery Staff

Open land is disappearing at a rate of 6,000 acres per day, according to the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource.

There is no greater threat to the equestrian community than the loss of land. We need land for pasture and hay, for raising foals, and for our horse sports, including (but not limited to) trail riding, eventing, foxhunting, driving, and that most Maryland of all equestrian sports, steeplechase.

In Maryland, no single equestrian group has done more to preserve open space than foxhunters. Perhaps because foxhunters were traditionally landowners and farmers themselves, they seem to have understood— better than any other sporting group — that in order to preserve agriculture, it is critical to preserve contiguous productive land. It is not enough to save a patch here, or ensure a trail through there—one farm here with another farm three or five miles away. In order for farmers to farm, they must be surrounded by ag land. In order for farmers to have farm services (such as tractor repairs), there must be enough farm business for the support businesses to remain. Too many farmers these days in central Maryland must travel the distance of two or three counties in order to have their tractors repaired. This is not sustainable agriculture.

But foxhunters do seem to understand that contiguous farmland—while crucial for open space—is critical for the preservation of sustainable agriculture. For almost 100 years, foxhunters have been the driving force behind almost every large swath of open land in Maryland.

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