By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There are more horses per square mile in Maryland than in any other state, and the state is a national leader when it comes to regulating the care of the animals. That’s the job of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, and this is its big anniversary year.

Riding is both challenging and enjoyable, which is why 30 percent of households in Maryland have someone like Norah Eagley who loves horses.

“I think it teaches you patience because you’re working with a live animal, instead of like a skateboard or a bike. So not everything comes automatically and you kind of have to work as a team,” Eagley said.

The Graham Equestrian Center is one of 38 horse discovery centers in Maryland. It and every commercial stable in the state is licensed and inspected by the Maryland Horse Industry Board.

“We have over 700 licensed stables, probably will be close to 800 this year in Maryland. And they are the backbone of the horse industry. Maryland loves their horses,” said Anne Litz with MHIB.

For 20 years, the MHIB has been taking care of the state’s horses and riders.

Jim McDonald teaches what’s called “natural horsemanship.”

“For me, it’s all about understanding the horse from the horse’s point of view,” he said. “It’s great for developing patience, empathy. There’s something special about the horses. It’s difficult to explain.”

It’s also contagious. Recreational riding brings in $234 million to the state annually. With competitive and therapeutic riding, it all adds up to a $2.6 billion economic impact.

The MHIB operates under the Department of Agriculture. For information on all things equine, click here.

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