Potomac Horse Center clients, community appeal for support

Petition, fundraisers among the efforts to preserve this beloved Maryland lesson facility

Since the announcement that the Potomac Horse Center (PHC) would be closing on July 22, supporters of the North Potomac, Maryland lesson facility, which boasts world-famous equestrian connections, have been working to try and keep it open.

As the PHC’s Nancy Novograd explained in the original announcement, the closure was deemed necessary due to existing lease terms that she called “unsustainable under current economic conditions.” Therefore, PHC supporters are petitioning the facility’s owner, the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), to renew its lease with the riding school while appealing for funding to meet the specified conditions for capital improvements and other demands.

An update

On May 14, Potomac Horse Center officials posted the following update on the facility’s Facebook page:

Image from PHC website

“In the wake of Potomac Horse Center’s impending closure, our loyal and dedicated community members have redoubled their efforts to preserve the Potomac Horse Center (PHC). They have connected with local and state representatives and are diligently working to find a resolution. Since time is of the essence, the community has asked that PHC share a petition link (see below) and a link to the Potomac Horse Center Foundation’s Square page in hopes that the community will support PHC with signatures and donations.

“The Potomac Horse Center Foundation Inc. truly appreciates their support. For more information, call (301) 330-5427.

“To sign the petition, go to: https://www.change.org/p/save-the-potomac-horse-center. To donate to the Foundation, go to: https://checkout.square.site/…/4EBLMPOTHCGWBHCNXPNNH65L.”

GoFundMe page

A GoFundMe page has also been set up to raise money for PHC’s cause. There, advocates for the facility posted the following:

“Loyal customers and dedicated community members notify herein that they are working to preserve the Potomac Horse Center (PHC) as an operating riding facility in response to the PHC’s announcement on Friday, May 3, that negotiations with MNCPPC-MC Parks had reached an impasse, causing impending closure. Concerned PHC clients and community members began working to keep PHC open and they ask for your support.

“PHC is an important recreational amenity, which has served the diverse Montgomery County population and larger metropolitan area for generations by providing a variety of programs:

∙ Children from all walks of life, as young as 5, are introduced to the wonder of horses, participate in group or individual lessons, the popular summer camp program and special holiday events.

∙ Adult riders of all ages and experience levels attend novice, jump, flat and dressage classes, providing cardiovascular activity and muscle and bone strengthening for aging adults well into seniority (70s, 80s).

∙ Students from local middle and high schools participate in classes and the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) shows, with many moving on to Intercollegiate Horse Shows, all guided by the exceptional training staff at PHC.

∙ Therapeutic riding classes are dedicated to providing riding instruction to disabled, autistic and traumatic brain injured (TBI) individuals. The positive physical, emotional and social effects can be miraculous.”

‘Unique’ facility

“PHC is unique among other Montgomery County riding facilities, with three indoor arenas, a bucolic setting with fields and woods, an outdoor arena and event jump course,” the text continues. “Such settings are known from neuroscience research to be mentally and physically beneficial for all in proximity to view fields and trees. The historic farmhouse where the PHC manager lives is on the County’s historic register.

“The barns should be considered historic with notable Olympians, including a gold medalist, having trained at the facility. PHC also housed the famed Spanish Riding School Lipizzaners in 1964 during their historic first visit to the USA.”

‘Important resource’

“Horses and ponies at PHC have varied backgrounds including retired racehorses, former show/event ponies and horses, a Texas Ranger mount, gentle rescue horses and horses that performed at the Metropolitan Opera. PHC employs many dedicated young people of the County as grooms, camp counselors and therapeutic riding volunteers. PHC serves as first employment and provides training for many young people, gaining lifelong skills and experience, all contributing to the $2.9 billion Maryland horse industry. Many of the current staff will not only lose jobs, but housing if PHC closes.

“Beyond recreational health benefits, working with horses builds confidence, empathy and self-control. Most people cannot afford to own a farm, barn or purchase a horse or pony. Public riding stables are an important resource for communities, providing affordable lessons and the opportunity to have contact with horses. For many it is their only opportunity to have experiences with horses.

“Increasing pressures of ever-expanding commercial and housing development reduce green areas and recreational spaces making preserving PHC essential for this, and future generations in the County. With limited time, the PHC community is making an open appeal for immediate funds and long-term funding for MNCPPC-MC identified capital improvements and escrow demands of $3-5 million.

“Petition: https://www.change.org/p/save-the-potomac-horse-center.

“Immediate Fund Donation: https://www.potomachorsecenter.com.”

Landing page image from montgomeryparks.org

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