Importance of Horses
Horses were brought to this continent by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Their speed and endurance were invaluable in the New World. In early America. specific breeds were relatively unknown. Horses were identified by color, gender, and size, or by their use. Horses were small, standing only 14 to 15 hands (56 to 60 inches). Physical characteristics mattered to the prospective buyer—a healthy horse could be used for farming. transportation. combat and recreation. Before mechanized transportation, horses were essential for a variety of services from Pony Express mail delivery to pulling water trucks for fighting fires. Reliance on the horse in everyday society began to decline in the early 20th century with the introduction of the automobile.
Montgomery County is Horse Country
Of the 87,000 horses registered in Maryland, 12,000 are in Montgomery County. More than 20,000 acres in the county are dedicated to horse farms. This equestrian community contributes over $200 million to the area economy, as horses are the primary consumers of locally grown hay. Recognizing the need for an equestrian park, the late Mr. William Rickman, Sr., donated 118 acres of land at Woodstock to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission in 2000. The property is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Rickman's great-grandfather, Dr. William Rickman, who was a surgeon in the British Army during the French and Indian War, and later, during the American Revolution, was appointed Director of Hospitals for the Continental Army.