Category Archives: Uncategorized

Maryland Horse Library Book Club

The Maryland Horse Library Book Club is a great way to enjoy good reads and connect with fellow horse lovers.

The club meets approximately every three weeks, with two meetings per book. Meetings are conducted through Zoom and are held in conjunction with Wasabi Ventures Stables.





Visit the link below and click on “book club” to receive club updates!

Book club sign-up

Current Book: Marguerite, Misty and Me by Susan Friedland

Purchase book HERE

First Meeting: Tuesday, June 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Second Meeting: Tuesday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Horse Industry Reception 2023

The Horse Industry Reception in Annapolis on February 14, 2023 was a big success! Scroll through the photo gallery below to see snapshots from the event.

Click HERE to view more of the evening’s highlights and learn about the horse industry’s importance in Maryland.


Intern Profile: Rachel Gordon

Internship: The Mill

Through the Work Experience Program with the Maryland Horse Foundation, I was able to complete an internship focused on equine nutrition, as well as feed and supplement sales. The company I interned with, The Mill, is a major supplier of feed and supplements, not just for equine, but for many other animals including livestock, companion animals, and more. Beneficial to what I was looking to dive into with this internship, The Mill has their own equine nutritionist, Michelle Jennings. With Michelle, I saw how feed plans are created for horses with various needs and I learned about how much goes into suggesting a particular feed or supplement to fix a dietary problem that a horse is having. There is so much background information that is necessary to gather about the horse or herd before referring an appropriate product. Michelle is very knowledgeable when it comes to all of the feeds and supplements sold at The Mill, so she was typically able to give a suggestion over the phone; however, some cases required someone to ride out to their farm and address the problem firsthand. I got to experience this on a ride along with Michelle to a client’s farm that needed their hay tested, to determine if that was a contributor to a problem they were having with their horses. We also got to spend a day weighing foals, which is done monthly to keep track of their average daily gain.

Alongside Michelle, I was able to work with one of the Equine Sales Managers, Kelley Nash, who I joined on the road traveling to different training facilities. Some of the places we went included Delaware Park, Laurel Park, and Fair Hill. At these tracks I assisted Kelley by going into different barns, checking feed and supplement inventory, maintaining records, and speaking with the team to see how their horses were performing and if there was anything they needed to discuss that they wanted to improve on within their herd. Some of the clients had specific issues in their horses that they were looking to fix, and Kelley was able to recommend new products for that purpose. We also worked with a few clients that wanted a topline or overall assessment of their horse from Kelley, which was done through Body Condition Scoring (assessment of fat accumulation, completed by physically looking at the horse).

A major portion of my internship consisted of assisting The Mill with the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training sale at the Timonium Fairgrounds. The Mill is a major supplier for majority of the horses at this sale and I got to experience selling feed and supplies in a fast-paced environment. The Mill had a warehouse for storage of their supplies set up at the fairgrounds, so customers could call in their order and if it was something already stored in the warehouse, we would bring it to their barn for them. The Mill was able to expand on their feed and shavings sales by bringing in other equine products, such as grooming and bathing equipment, wound care products, and special products brought in from the stores upon request. It was great to see the quality of customer service The Mill provides to their clients, as there were many times throughout the sale that I saw Michelle and Kelley go above and beyond for their customers.

I learned a lot from this experience, especially working alongside Michelle and Kelley in interacting with customers, learning about various feeds and supplement uses, as well as experiencing some of the retail and marketing aspects of the business. One of the most valuable things I learned from The Mill is the importance of having strong communication and organization within a team. I got to see the connection between the marketing, retail, warehouse, delivery, and nutrition/feed sales teams and how much coordination goes into successfully servicing their customers. I was also able to make connections with team members from Cargill and expand my network in the animal nutrition industry. Michelle also set me up to attend an online Feed Masters seminar, which consisted of feed dealers, nutritionists, and veterinarians from all over the country presenting case studies on different issues related to nutrition. Some of the topics included feeding challenges, GMOs, allergies in horses, hoof growth and development, and the importance of deworming. Through this two-day seminar, I was able to dive deeper into a lot of topics that are closely related to or affected by nutrition but are commonly overlooked.

Overall, I had a great experience working with Michelle, Kelley, and many other team members at The Mill. I was able to experience parts of almost every aspect of the business and know that I gained a great deal of knowledge on how the industry works as well. With the experience I gained in this internship, I hope to continue to pursue a career in the field of equine or animal nutrition, as I truly enjoyed being a part of the industry. I appreciate the opportunity to have participated in the Work Experience Program and look forward to continuing my pursuit of a career in this industry!

MTCP Graduate Testimonials

Class of 2023

Sam Franklin
“The Maryland Thoroughbred Career program was more than I could have thought it to be. The people we got to meet exposed me to all aspects of the thoroughbred industry, many of which I didn’t know existed. The program opened my eyes to all the careers in the industry and helped to connect me to knowledgeable people in the industry. While beautiful and rewarding, the thoroughbred industry is hard to break into, and through this program I believe I have gotten a head start on my career. I would highly recommend this program to any prospective candidates, as although the program is short the experiences and people you meet make it a great use of your time.”

Olivia Kaltenbach
“Taking part in the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program was nothing short of a life changing experience. Throughout the week, we were able to talk with countless industry professionals and farm managers that were able to give some of the best advice I have heard about working in the horse industry. Before taking part in the MTCP, I had no idea that there were so many different opportunities within the horse industry that may seem as though they have no relation at all. I have a totally different outlook on my future now, especially after hearing the advice that there are sorts of jobs where having horse experience is incredibly valuable and not a common trait among applicants. I highly recommend this program to any and all horse enthusiasts who are looking for their place in the industry!”


Class of 2022

Liz Ridenour
“I participated in the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program in June 2022. I grew up in Maryland and had some prior experience in the Thoroughbred industry, but this program was an incredible opportunity to dive deeper into the Thoroughbred industry and learn its inner workings, and the job opportunities available within it. If I had to pick a favorite visit from the week, it would be the visit to Fair Hill Training Center. There, we watched the horses exercise, and spoke with both individuals who run the center, those who train horses there, as well as those who run the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center. That experience solidified my desire to work in the field of equine sports medicine, and I would unreservedly recommend the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program to anyone who is interested in a career in the Thoroughbred industry, and the equine industry at large.”

Marina Rohbeck
“I finished the program in 2022. The program gave me such an in-depth experience in the racing industry. I had no prior experience or knowledge of the industry coming into the program. I always wanted to be an equine veterinarian, but now I have an interest in reproductive health. When we visited Country Life Farms, I was able to witness an ultrasound on a pregnant mare. As soon as I saw the foal’s heartbeat, I knew that is what I wanted to spend my career doing. The whole program was such a positive experience; everyone was friendly and welcoming. I will always recommend students to apply to the program, regardless if they know anything about the industry or if they do not know what they want to make their career. I learned so much over the course of the week and I came home with a higher knowledge about the racing industry. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.”

Class of 2021

Charles Churchill
“The Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program was an incredible experience, one I will remember forever. As a first generation horseman, I’ve begun to learn that the industry can be an exclusive network that creates a barrier for newcomers, which makes it hard to find your footing. This program does a terrific job at bringing in intrigued young minds who are seeking out educational experiences and connecting them to the local heroes that drive the success of the Maryland Thoroughbred industry. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to learn from the array of talented members contributing to the advancement of the next generation within Maryland’s Thoroughbred Industry. I thoroughly enjoyed the program this summer and highly recommend it to all young adults interested in the Thoroughbred Industry.”

Ashlee Marcy
“When applying for the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program, I had no expectations. My experience in the horse industry is minimal and even less in the world of Thoroughbreds, but I was and still am eager to learn all that I can. Spending a week fully immersed in all things Thoroughbred, surrounded by people just as hungry to know more, while learning from those who are clearly passionate about this industry is an invaluable experience that I am incredibly grateful for. We visited many farms and places I would have never thought to associate with the Thoroughbred industry, like the kennels and an unsuspecting field on Tufton Ave. At each of these places the lessons seemed to boil down to one common theme: ‘blend your passion for horses with your unique skill set and there is certainly a job for you in the Thoroughbred industry’. I am excited to take what I have learned this week and find my place in this industry.”

Sophie O’Connor
“The Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program allowed me to expand my knowledge of the multitude of career paths in the thoroughbred industry. It also allowed me to make extremely valuable connections to important people within the industry. As a member of the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program, I was able to visit many Thoroughbred operations which showcased the incredibly rich history, the robust state of the industry and the positive future outlook of Maryland Thoroughbreds. I would recommend this program to anyone interested in a career with Thoroughbreds, regardless of whether you have been involved with horses your whole life or if you’re looking to find a pathway into the industry. Everyone will take something important away from this experience.”

Cayla Reeder
“The Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program gave me an opportunity to dive deeper into the industry I love the most. I was able to explore many different careers within the horse industry, from marketing and communications, to breeding and racing. The program itself introduced me to all aspects of the industry, as well as put me in contact with extremely knowledgeable people who I know can help guide me in pursuing the profession I choose. The whole week was exciting, as we got to visit on average three places per day. I come from a horse racing family so I knew the most about that side, but the program took me through parts of the industry that I did not have as much experience in and it really opened my eyes! Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire week and I would recommend this program to anyone who is looking to expand on their knowledge within the industry.”

Zaharia Selman
“The Maryland Thoroughbred Program was such an amazing opportunity and invitation into Maryland’s Thoroughbred industry. Before starting the program I was most excited about being around horses for the entire week and learning about different careers in horse racing. To my surprise, these were not the only things that I took away from this experience. I am so glad that I have gained more knowledge, new friendships and contacts from those that are willing to help me in my future endeavors. With five packed days, we explored many areas of the industry from breeding, on the mare and stallion side, to desensitizing young horses to the starting gate. This opportunity has not only allowed me to gain firsthand experience in areas of the industry that I am interested in (behavior, nature preservation and equine therapy), but it has also given me valuable insight into other areas of the industry that I no longer want to pursue (breeding and training). I am so excited for the hope that has been created and the many doors that have been opened to me because of this program!”

Class of 2019

Thomas Dobbins
“Upon being accepted into the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program I was not sure of what to expect. But by the end of the week, I had to come to the realization that there are so many more opportunities in the Thoroughbred industry than I had ever imagined. Each of the places we visited welcomed us with open arms and answered every question asked, as they want to invest in us so that we as a whole can make a positive impact. Beyond the MTCP, the staff at the Maryland Horse Breeders Association has made an impact by gearing this program towards each individual interests and guide us along whatever path we choose.”

Molly Harris
“Being able to take part in the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program opened my eyes to all the different career options that are available to me. I was able to dive deeper into the different jobs that interested me while networking and talking with passionate and knowledgeable leaders in industry. The MTCP provided me and the other participates with a diverse look into the Thoroughbred industry by allowing us to travel to numerous farms and business that gave us a well-rounded look into what the industry has to offer. Having been able to take part in this program allowed me to narrow down my future career goals and the steps I will take in order to achieve them. I would highly recommended this program to anyone who is eager to learn more about the Thoroughbred industry, you will not regret it!”

Elizabeth Moorman
“The Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program was a terrific opportunity that allowed me to see firsthand many different aspects of Maryland’s Thoroughbred industry. Talking to professionals in the industry to hear what their careers consist of and how they got there helped me in narrowing down what I want as a career. I went into the program open-minded and was blown away by the diversity of this industry. Seeing how passionate everyone we talked to was about horses and racing really encouraged me that this is the industry I want to go into. I am very thankful for the connections this program provided and I am so excited for my future in the Thoroughbred racing industry.”

Emily Shiloh
“The Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program has been an invaluable experience. Speaking with people from every part of the industry gave different perspectives and everyone we spoke with was truly invested in the future of the sport. I now have a much better understanding of the industry in general as well as somewhere to set my sights on for the future. The opportunity to meet so many industry professionals within the span of a week has opened up so many doors for me, now the only issue is being able to choose one!“

Rachel Stockslager
“After learning of this program, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of it. I am on the fence about what I want to do as a career, but I know it has to be involving horses. This program allowed me to see so many different kinds of jobs within the industry that I never knew existed, so it really opened my options up. I found interest in a few of the jobs we got to witness as well, so I have added them to my career possibilities to consider. Not only that, but the networking opportunities this program provides are truly outstanding. Everyone we came in contact with, whether it be at the MHBA or those we met at each location we visited, were all willing to provide their contact information and welcomed us to reach out to them for help or advice any time, and that was really the best part. The Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program is an extraordinary experience that anyone chosen to be part of is very lucky to do so, I highly recommend applying for this opportunity. It was eye-opening and incredibly refreshing, and I walked away from the week with a new feeling of hope and excitement for my future.”

Zara Pyzowski
“When I applied for the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program, I expected to travel to many farms and organizations across the state, make connections with influential trainers and breeders, and meet outstanding people. Not only did the program achieve my expectations, but surpassed them tenfold. Alongside a group of five of my peers and guided by two outstanding mentors, we were granted the unbelievable opportunity to meet some of the most influential professionals in the Maryland Thoroughbred industry. Upon meeting all of these people and learning about their day-to-day lives and hearing about their experiences, I was able to make decisions to narrow down the broad and ever growing spectrum of careers in the equine industry to what I’m truly interested in. I was astounded by the number of unique, different professions scattered throughout Maryland both in the office, on the track, in the breeding shed, and in the hunt fields. Everyone that we met was eager to help, excited to share their experiences, and many have already helped to point me in the right direction to advance in my favorite fields of interest. I am so grateful for this opportunity, and will highly recommend it to other friends who have expressed an interest in learning more about careers with Thoroughbreds. It has helped to pave a path for me, and it is a path that I’d never have known to travel had I not been introduced to this fantastic program and all of the generous people involved.”

Class of 2018

Camille Lee
“My experience with the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program was truly memorable and really helped me shape my career goals. Throughout the week, I was able to speak one-on-one with professionals in all facets of the Thoroughbred racing industry. Learning about what their profession entails on a day-to-day basis as well as what they accomplished in order to be successful really helped me see what I want to be a part of. I was amazed (and still am) at the number of jobs in the racing industry; without participating in the 2018 MTCP I would still be trying to understand all of the different careers I am interested in, instead I feel much more confident about my future plans. To anyone that is interested in the Thoroughbred racing industry, I would highly recommend applying for the MTCP, it was an amazing experience and I am so thankful for the opportunity!”

Farah Staebell
“The Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program allowed me to delve into the many unexplored facets of the Thoroughbred industry and gain experiences that I might not have the opportunity to encounter, including sales, track management, and rehabilitation. I was able to gain important connections and new tools that I can carry with me for the rest of my career. My favorite part of the program was the diversity that it provides. Although I am studying to be a veterinarian, each and every individual I met, be it a jockey, track manager, or horse breeder, gave me valuable advice that I can apply in my work. The most important things I learned during the MTCP couldn’t come from a textbook or class, but only from years of errors and successes that our hosts had experienced. It was truly incredible to see how open these individuals were to share the lessons that they had learned and to be mentors for the future generation of the industry. I came out of the MTCP with dozens of new connections in all aspects of the industry who are willing to guide me through any path I choose.”

Lauren Carter
“The MTCP is an amazing program that allows participants to learn more about employment in the Maryland Thoroughbred industry. It made me rethink my career path, and opened my eyes to the size and ability of the horse industry to provide sustainable jobs. As someone who always knew I would have to work with horses as a career, I thought I needed to get either a DVM or PhD. I was set on a PhD, but the program allowed me to discover jobs I would love doing that don’t require another degree. It has also helped me to discover my love for racing and excitement to get out to the track. We met some amazing and well-respected members of the industry, each shared important information to steer us to our niche. I plan to stay updated on races and news within the industry, and to keep contacts with those that had the greatest impact on me.”

Brianna Higgs
“When I began the application for the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program I was excited for the possibilities I believed it would provide, but after completing the week, I can say that it has provided so much more than just possibilities. This program opens doors into the Thoroughbred industry that I did not even know existed. From traveling to the many different successful breeding and training programs to exploring the workings of a major racetrack, the MTCP has provided me and my fellow participants with connections to some of the most welcoming, passionate, and knowledgeable people. I have no doubt that I will be able to find my place within the industry after completing this program. I have gained great friends and mentors from the week, and for that I will forever be grateful to have been a part of the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program. I would recommend this program to anyone interested in even the smallest aspect of the Thoroughbred industry.”

Amber Roher
“My experience in the MTCP was wonderful! I went into the program with an opened mind and continued to have one throughout the week. This program helped me narrow down the career path that I want to follow. The program showed the many different viewpoints and paths that have lead individuals to be successful in the equine industry. This was a great experience and I’m so thankful that I was able to participate.”

Kandace Tignor
“The MTCP was an incredible opportunity for me to see what’s out there and meet our industry professionals. The horse industry is also a people industry, so it’s so important to build these connections now for a meaningful career in the future. I saw careers and aspects I didn’t even know existed, and I even landed an amazing summer job at a breeding farm because of the people I met in this program. This is a great opportunity for any goal-oriented person that wants to see what’s out there.”

Class of 2017

Sidney Boots
“The Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program aims to immerse you into each aspect of the Maryland Thoroughbred industry and the experience I had at the inaugural program far surpassed that intent. Each action packed day allowed us to network with people who were incredibly welcoming and knowledgeable, granted us access to phenomenal facilities and operations, and allowed us to grow as professionals with other youth with similar passions. I would recommend this program to anyone from anywhere who is passionate about horses and has a thirst for learning.”

Katie Brooks
“The Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program allowed me to explore many different career options within the Thoroughbred industry. I met and spoke with leaders in the various fields of the industry, met some amazing fellow interns, and was able to visit many beautiful farms and facilities. Everyone was so kind and it was great to see that so many people were excited for us to be there. It truly was an insightful, worthwhile, and fun experience that I am grateful to have been a part of!”

Megan George
“Coming into the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program, I expected that I would meet several of the top leaders in the industry and make some important contacts along the way. What I didn’t anticipate was the overwhelming wave of support and encouragement we received from every single person, farm, and organization. Everyone we met expressed a sincere desire to see young students rise to become the newest contributors to the industry, and offered us professional insight and advice. I learned about areas of the industry that initially appealed to me, and was also able to see how my interests and career goals fit into a much larger picture. I now feel more educated and aware of the vast impacts of the industry, where it has been, and where it is headed.”

Sara Gordon
“I applied for the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program because I wanted to expand my knowledge about the opportunities throughout the Thoroughbred industry. But I found even more than that. I’ve met amazing people with great stories of success, spectacular breeding and training operations, and they all connect through one thing: a passionate community. One thing I heard quite often was that being in the industry isn’t just a job, it’s a livelihood. It’s something that touches everyone involved and connects them through their love of the horse and the sport. You get to witness and experience all of that, and even more, participating in this program. I truly will treasure the time I’ve spent in it and all the connections I’ve made. If you want to delve into the industry, if you truly want to be a part of a dedicated community, I recommend applying to this program. This experience is something I will never forget!”

Tabitha Gregory
“This week has been one of the best experiences I have had in the horse industry. I was chosen to be a part of the very first Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program, put on by the Maryland Horse Industry Foundation. We spent the week touring farms and talking to people within the MD Thoroughbred Racing industry, and I can honestly say I was blown away by the amount of possible careers and also by how open, kind, and genuine everyone was. All of the people we talked to were just as excited for us to be a part of the industry as we were! If you are interested in the Thoroughbred industry, I highly recommend this program. After this week, I truly feel like I could find a place in this industry, and I am thankful for the MTCP team for making this week such an enjoyable experience.”

John Piassek
“As a big fan of Maryland racing, I knew all about how great the racing was in the state, but I did not know much about all the behind-the-scenes components that make it work. Through the MTCP, I was able to visit numerous farms and racetracks, and learn all about the inner workings of the Maryland industry. I feel like a more well-rounded racing fan because of it, and would strongly recommend the experience to anyone.”

2023 MTCP Participant Bios

Kenneth Bonuccelli – Woodbine, MD

Kenneth is a legal studies major at Stevenson University, where he competes in competitive Mock Trial. He enjoys spending time with friends and family and watching sports, and is excited to meet everyone in the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program.

Sam Franklin – Churchton, MD

Sam is a junior at the University of Louisville majoring in Equine Business Management. He has experience working with horses in both farm settings and hot walking at Churchill Downs. Sam loves working with horses, and after college hopes to become a winning thoroughbred trainer. For the MTCP, he hopes to learn as much as he can and to make the most of his time in the program.

Olivia Kaltenbach – New Castle, PA

Olivia is a junior studying Animal Science-Business and Management at Penn State University. As an Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Delegate for Penn State, she has a passion for growing her network in the equine industry and looking for any and all opportunities to be an advocate for animal agriculture. Olivia was born and raised working with horses in the western world and eventually learned to love the adrenaline rush of rodeo! She is incredibly excited to partake in the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program and is looking forward to learning more about the Thoroughbred industry and where her place could be in it.

Haden Sisk – Reisterstown, MD

Haden is a 17-year-old high school junior living on his family’s six-horse farm in Reisterstown, Maryland. He competes in Maryland High School Rodeo and Central Pennsylvania Youth Rodeo as a team roper. Aside from a cowboy, Haden is also an avid equestrian and loves to ride to the hunt. Currently, he works for William Dowling at W-D Racing as a groom and exercise rider. As far as his future in the equine industry, he is interested in pursuing a career as either a vet or farrier.

Addison (Addy) Smith – Knoxville, MD

Addy is a student at Middletown High School in Frederick, Maryland, where she is an active member of their Future Farmers of America (FFA) club. She helps with her family’s non-profit horse rescue February Star Sanctuary, and has three horses of her own, one of which is an Off-Track Thoroughbred named Unstoppable Heart. She began barrel racing competitively in 2020 and has since added pole bending to her resume. Though not completely sure where she will go in her career, Addy has a passion for horses and plans to stay in the industry. She considers her love for her horses and the bond they have formed as a great learning experience for life and relationships.

Sydney Trigilio – West Springfield, MA

Sydney is a rising senior in the Equine Science program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as well as an event rider with a passion for breeding and training. This summer, she will be continuing her education while working at a breeding facility and hopes to follow a career in that field. While she hasn’t yet had the opportunity to work in the thoroughbred industry, she is excited that Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program will be opening a new door.


Follow along with the 2023 Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program participants June 5-9 on the Maryland Horse Foundation’s Facebook page.

Intern Profile: Marissa Melzer

Internship: Maryland Horse Industry Board – Horseland at the Maryland State Fair

IMG 1483For my Work Experience Program (WEP) internship I worked for Anne Litz, of the Maryland Horse Industry Board; and helped her coordinate and run Horseland at the 2019 Maryland State Fair. Horseland is one of the largest early-education and equine outreach events offered in Maryland, focused on promoting our horse industry and it’s unique variety of facets to the general public. I worked alongside Anne to organize exhibitors, create the schedule of events, and tackle all sorts of logistical concepts throughout my internship, while also working throughout the week of the Maryland State Fair.

Horseland is a place where Marylanders will sometimes come into contact with a horse for the first time. I loved to watch them put their hands on a horse and feel that special feeling that I first felt for horses so long ago. It is also, naturally, a major attraction for kids and I loved working with kids in the Horseland tent. They loved making the stick horses, which seems like it wouldn’t be very impactful, but working with them on the crafts and getting to see them understand things and deepen their interest in the animals through art was really cool, and really special.

I learned so much from my WEP internship. It deepened my interpersonal relationship and
communication skills, and taught me what truly goes into putting together an outreach event. I was responsible for recruiting new groups to the event and maintaining relationships with past participants. It was really great to get to know everyone and to fine-tune my relationship with them to suit their individual needs leading up to, and throughout Horseland. There were a lot of details to be conceived and then sorted through, and I learned a lot about multi-tasking and being a real self-starter.

This Horseland internship through WEP definitely broadened my perspective on potential job opportunities within the equine industry. It allowed me to combine several things I both enjoy and feel that I am good at. By the time I started the internship, I’d already spent several years in the barn and working hands-on with horses, and as much as I loved that time, it was really great to see that I could combine what I learned during those years, as well as other life-skills that I had acquired in my future career. It’s good to feel like the work you’re doing is not only important to you, but is beneficial for others as well.

I loved the opportunity I found through the WEP and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to create a deeper understanding of the wide range of diverse career opportunities available within the equine industry. It was eye-opening for me and has started to lead me down a really great path. I feel like the relationships that I forged and the lessons I learned during the WEP were invaluable and I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity. 


Intern Profile: Brianna Higgs

Internship: Maryland Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association

My experience interning with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) and Beyond the Wire was unlike any previous experience I have ever had. Going in to the internship my exposure to the racetrack was extremely limited. I had only been to a racetrack two other times, and the most recent was with the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program which is what set me on the path that led to the MTHA.

My expectations for this internship were a little all over the place, as I truly did not know what to expect. I was hoping for knowledge and experience in a real world career setting, which I have not had through school thus far. I was not sure of what I would be doing beyond looking at horses for Beyond the Wire and working to help place them in Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance facilities, but after my first day I realized that was just a small piece of the internship; turns out, I was completely oblivious to all that the MTHA does.

The MTHA plays a crucial part in helping those that work and live on the backstretch. My perception of horse racing never included the backstretch and being involved in that world made me realize that in the future I want to help the unsung heroes who make the track what it is. The MTHA looks out for the workers that do everything at the track, and the biggest thing that I heard repeatedly by many who work on the backstretch was that they were there for the horses. I had never really thought about all that goes into the daily routines of a racetrack, let alone those that care for the horses. The reason that people are working at the track always comes back to one common denominator – the love of horses. No matter the job, it all ties in, so being able to intern at an organization that helps protect and guide those that care for the horses was an honor.

Going forward from this experience, I hope to be able to step into an organization like the MTHA after I graduate from Centenary University in May. I have always been focused on horses and I knew I needed a career involving the equine industry in some capacity. I was not set on any particular aspect of the equine industry as a whole, but I have found an environment I enjoy at the racetrack. I have always had a strong passion for equine aftercare, which I hope one day to pursue in some fashion, but it never crossed my mind until going through the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program and this internship that the people that care for the horses also need representation. Through helping the people on the backstretch, I can help make the lives of the horses better because happy employees will raise the level of care for each and every horse. I hope that in the future I will find a position similar to my internship where I can maintain an equal mix of working with horses and people in the Thoroughbred industry.

MTHA’s Jessica Hammond (L) with Brianna Higgs (R) at Laurel Park.

Intern Profile: Elizabeth Moorman

Internship: Bonita Farm

My time working in the Maryland Horse Foundation’s Work Experience Program was invaluable in
helping me reach my future career aspirations. I spent my winter break working at Bonita Farm in Harford County, MD, learning skills and gaining experience in the industry that I hope to have a career in.

I am entering my last semester at the University of Maryland, College Park, and will be graduating in May 2022 with a degree in Animal Science. I have been in love with horses, and specifically horse racing, for as long as I can remember, which is why I want to make this my career. I participated in the Maryland Thoroughbred Career Program in 2019, which gave me a broad overview of the many opportunities for careers in the Thoroughbred industry. Since then, I have been eagerly trying to gain experience working in the Thoroughbred industry while in undergrad to help prepare me for a career. The Work Experience Program was the perfect opportunity, as it allowed me to work first-hand in the industry in a position suited to my interests.

During my internship, I worked in the broodmare barn at Bonita Farm with broodmares and barren mares, as well as weanlings. I have always been interested in Thoroughbred breeding and have taken classes related to breeding and foaling in school. It was incredibly helpful to see firsthand what goes into running a breeding operation, from the day-to-day maintenance, as well as prep for the foaling season. Some of the things I helped with were mucking stalls, turn in and turn out, grooming, assessing health and giving treatments, as well as general farm things like straw delivery. Hillary Fisher and all the folks at Bonita were so helpful in sharing their knowledge with me and guiding me while working there. I think some of my most valuable takeaways were associated with general health care for all the horses, like treating abscesses, minor injuries, and giving vaccinations. I also liked working with the weanlings (now yearlings!) and seeing them mature and grow. All the daily things I encountered during my internship helped to build my experience level and better my skills working with horses and being a self-starter.

I am so thankful to the Maryland Horse Foundation and Bonita Farm for the opportunity to get this kind of experience that cannot be learned inside of a classroom. All the care and hard work that goes into an operation like Bonita Farm is for the love of the horse, which I am happy to be a part of. I’m leaving this internship with a strengthened sense of love for this industry and this sport and am excited to pursue a career with Thoroughbreds upon graduation.

Intern Profile: Kandace Tignor

Internship: Fair Hill Training Center

Kandace2My time spent in the Maryland Horse Industry Foundation’s (MHIF) Work Experience Program was invaluable. Based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, I had a tailor-made internship that fit my interests exactly and truly helped increase my experience as I pursue my long-term career goals.

This fall, I will be entering my third year of undergraduate school as I pursue a degree in Animal Science: Pre-Veterinary, with hopes of becoming a veterinarian one day. My tentative plan is to take a break after I graduate from the University of Findlay, in Findlay, Ohio, and enter the workforce to establish financial stability before entering vet school.

Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to work with horses and always felt a strong connection to Thoroughbreds in particular. Thanks to this program from the MHIF, I now have the connections, experience, and skills necessary to find a successful career in the industry.

During my six-week internship, I spent each morning at trainer Mike Trombetta’s Racing Stable, learning the ins-and-outs of how a training barn operates. I took on many roles while I was there, from grooming and hot walking to preparing equipment for races, observing training, ponying horses, and caring for equine injuries such as hoof abscesses. Interacting with employees at the barn also allowed me to learn about their unique roles.

In the afternoons, I would spend my time with Dr. Kathy Anderson, past-president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and owner of Equine Veterinary Care at Fair Hill. Dr. Anderson has a wealth of knowledge to share and I learned about sport horse medicine, such as evaluating lameness and rehabbing injuries, as well as many business aspects of this career. By observing Dr. Anderson’s interactions with clients, I learned what trainers and owners need and want for their horses, as well as how to handle educating clients about the best quality of care for their horses. Along with that, I gained experience working with high-strung horses and became more comfortable with routine procedures that I will most likely need to perform one day.

Dr. Bernadette Smith and Dr. Charles Arsenburg also allowed me to tag along on their farm calls occasionally. When assisting Dr. Smith, we discussed many things pertaining to the schooling required to become a vet. She provided me with good advice and motivation to keep pursuing this difficult yet rewarding career.

I cannot express how grateful I am to the MHIF for providing me with this unique opportunity, specifically designed to help me achieve my short and long-term career goals. My time at Fair Hill was life changing, and as I enter my next year of college, I feel energized and prepared to take on the remainder of my undergraduate studies before embarking on a career as a vet in the Thoroughbred industry.

Intern Profile: Erin Swope

Internship: Maryland Horse Foundation

ErinSwopeMy name is Erin Swope, a December 2020 graduate from Towson University’s College of Business
and Economics. I have been involved in Maryland’s horse industry from a very young age, having grown up on a horse farm. I was heavily involved in fox chasing and steeplechase racing since my dad also rode in the races, and he had me starting in the hunt field when I was just 5 years old. Over the past 4 years, I have worked at Pimlico Race Course as an exercise rider for Mary Eppler, which has allowed me to pay for my college. Towson requires all of their business students to complete an
internship as a graduation requirement, and I was having a difficult time finding one due to COVID-19. Luckily, I talked to Bobby Lillis and asked him if he knew of anywhere that was taking interns and he suggested that I call the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. I contacted Jordyn and was incredibly fortunate that I was able to intern with the Maryland Horse Foundation. I had an incredible experience and learned so many skills that I will be able to carry with me into any new position.

Through this experience, I was able to work on various projects that taught me many important skills. One of the main projects that I worked on was helping to organize the online silent auction leading up to Maryland Million Day. I was involved in this project from start to finish as I helped contact potential item donors, determine what items would be included, write the descriptions for the items, organize all of the items on the online platform, and help oversee the actual running of the auction. Throughout this process I gained communication skills as I connected with donors and worked with Jordyn; teamwork skills from working with people in every department of the organization; technology skills from learning how to operate the new online platform. These skills are crucial for any job at any company and it is a huge benefit for me to have gained these skills throughout my time spent with the Maryland Horse Foundation.

I also had the privilege of learning about the different operations of the organization from all of the different departments of the office. I was able to learn about communications and how the organization uses social media to help spread awareness of their events and gain awareness of the Maryland horse industry. I was able to learn about the publication of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine, since it is run out of the same office. I was even able to learn a lot about the industry’s history by flipping through the Maryland Horse magazine archives and going through the online collection. I also sat in on meetings and conference calls and learned about the Maryland-Bred and Maryland Sired programs as I helped register horses. I was able to gain an understanding of each person’s role in the office and how they are all interrelated.

As someone who has never worked in an office setting, this was such a great learning experience for me and I am so lucky to have been able to learn from the nicest, most knowledgeable and professional people. Everyone that I worked with was so kind and welcoming and I looked forward to going to the office. I have seen the horse industry from the hands-on side of working with the horses, but it was so interesting for me to experience what the office side is like. This experience allowed me to apply all of the skills I learned at Towson and be exposed to all different areas of the organization. I gained a greater sense of professionalism as well as a better sense of direction of what I want to do as a career. Interning with the Maryland Horse Foundation allowed me to make many new connections that will help me in my job search now that I have my bachelor’s degree. This internship was the perfect internship experience for me because it allowed me to learn about the business aspect of running an organization, while also being able to work in an area I’m interested in. I would highly recommend any student to intern with the Maryland Horse Foundation. It was an incredible experience that taught me so much and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.