Help Save a Historic Riding Program in Maryland Before It’s Too Late

PHC is also home to a therapeutic riding program, IEA team, and summer camp

We all know how hard it is to participate in equestrian sports—or even just to be around the animals—for those who aren’t fortunate enough to own a horse. Lesson programs across the country are dwindling, and on April 30 came a heavy blow to a horse-loving community in the mid-Atlantic.

The Potomac Horse Center in Maryland announced that it would be closing this June as a result of an impasse with its landlord. Potomac Horse Center has been an integral part of the equestrian community in the area since the 1950s.

According to a letter from PHC president Nancy Novograd posted on the Potomac Horse Center website:

“Since 2017, PHC has tried to renegotiate its 1993 lease with the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC). The tipping point in the negotiations was M-NCPPC’s insistence that the renewal of the lease was contingent on PHC raising three to five million dollars to improve M-NCPPC’s infrastructure with no assurances that PHC would be permitted to remain on the property. PHC simply cannot ask our clients to pay for and invest in a rapidly deteriorating infrastructure that PHC does not own.”

In a last-ditch effort to save the beloved stable, community members and clients have put together a petition and fundraising efforts to keep PHC up and running, either at its current location or a new one. Those links are shared below.

The Plaid Horse managing editor, Rennie Dyball, learned to ride at PHC in the mid-90s herself. She shares the following about what PHC means to her…

The Potomac Horse Center was an important part of my childhood and—in a way that I never could have imagined—has continued to impact my career as an adult.

Growing up in a D.C. suburb, my parents provided me with weekly riding lessons at PHC, as well as entry fees for their in-house horse shows. As I got older, additional lessons and the rare off-property horse show became my own financial responsibility. I worked at PHC among other part-time jobs to support my passion. 

Like most of us, I have literally loved horses for as long as I can remember. Years before I began taking lessons, my dad and I would visit PHC just to pet the horses and ponies and feed them carrots. 

There are countless other kids like me, who only get to ride (or simply visit the horses) because of places like PHC, where you do not need to own a horse to participate. Without programs like this one, how will these children learn to ride and become part of our industry? It’s becoming too expensive for many barns to have school horses at all, ending attempts at inclusivity before they even begin.

I returned to riding after 12 years of living and working in Manhattan. The passion that was built at PHC never went away. I based my children’s book series with Piper Klemm on the horse center’s program, and even wrote a novel narrated by a school horse. The “schoolies” at PHC taught me so much about empathy and compassion that they continue to be part of my work as an author, decades later. 

This April—two weeks before the PHC announcement—I finally became a horse owner myself for the very first time, purchasing a Danish Warmblood to show in the hunters and equitation. I named him If I Can Dream.

Please consider adding your signature to the petition or donating to help save the horse center. It means so much to so many. 

-Rennie Dyball 

Donations can be made here:
Potomac Horse Center Foundation, 301-208-0200
GoFundMe*

You can sign the petition to save the horse center here:
Change.org

*please note that change.org asks people to chip in and gofundme requests tips—those contributions go to the respective organizations and not to PHC.