A seven-minute documentary film produced jointly by the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB) and the Maryland Horse Foundation has won the award for Best Overall Documentary Short Film at the 2021 EQUUS Film & Arts Fest. 

The film, “Why Horses—A Welcome to the Maryland Horse Industry,” delves into a horse’s ability to feed our soul and to strengthen our bodies through exercise and connection to nature. The documentary is written and narrated by Alejandra Abella, an Annapolis equestrian who serves as an education advisor to the MHIB, and is directed by Torrey Pocock and Bryan Krandle of Riggo Productions. This film was made possible by funding from the Rural Maryland Council.

“We are so proud and honored that ‘Why Horses’ was recognized at this year’s EQUUS Film & Arts Fest,” said Ross Peddicord, MHIB Executive Director. “Maryland is fortunate to have such talented creatives in our state that have been able to capture the importance of Maryland’s horse industry in film, photo, podcasts, books, artwork, and other mediums.”

This short film was created to promote horses throughout October 2021, which Governor Larry Hogan proclaimed “Maryland Horse Month.” This video serves as an educational resource to show the positive effects horses have on human lives, including companionship, empowerment, responsibility, commitment, compassion, discipline, teamwork, character-building, and humility. The video is available on MHIB’s YouTube channel and on the Maryland Horse Foundation’s website. The film also provides information on MHIB’s Horse Discovery Center network and its “Horses For Courses” school curriculum.

In addition, three other Maryland entries won awards in their respective categories. Two books, “Show Strides: Testing Friendships” by Rennie Dyball and “Chincoteague Pony Tales” by Lois Szymanski, took home top honors as well as a news segment from WJZ-CBS Baltimore that spotlighted the plight of a young horse named Cyrus who went viral on social media.

Additionally, several Marylanders received runner-up awards including: a short film called “Woodrow and My Dad” directed by Ivy Schexnayder; a podcast named “Tiny Horse Talk” produced by Patricia Milligan; a book entitled “Horse Gods: The Dressage Rider’s Betrayal” by Lisa Trovillion; and another book called “Roll Cyrus Roll: The Adventures of Cyrus the Colt” by Chris Brown.

In its ninth year, the EQUUS Film & Arts Fest is the premier global event for award-winning equine films, including documentaries, features, and both fiction and nonfiction narratives. This year’s festival was held virtually from November 12-21. Starting next year through 2027, the festival will be presented at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida.

For more information, please visit the MHIB website, or contact MHIB’s Executive Director Ross Peddicord at (240)344-0000 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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