Equine Alliance Off & Running - Leesburg Today Online—Daily News Coverage of Loudoun County, Leesburg, Ashburn: In Brief

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Equine Alliance Off & Running

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Posted: Monday, May 13, 2013 1:22 pm

The Loudoun County Equine Alliance held its first annual meeting last month, marking the establishment of the group as a formal organization, with the adoption of Bylaws and introduction of a board of directors for 2013.

The Alliance grew out of equine sector information sessions which were held in 2011 as part of the Rural Business Development Strategy project of the Rural Economic Development Council. In January 2012 a number of participants in the strategy sessions began meeting as the Loudoun County Equine Alliance. The Rural Economic Development Council, which is an advisory committee to the Board of Supervisors, now recognizes the Alliance as the representative of the equine business sector. The REDC is looking to the Alliance to implement the Rural Economic Business Development Strategy recommendations as they pertain to the horse industry in Loudoun County.

On May 2, the Board of Supervisors approved the Rural Business Development Strategy, which includes in its top recommendations the strengthening of Loudoun’s equine industry through the development of an Equine Master Plan for Loudoun County and the development of a county multi-user trails network which would greatly increase the number and length of trails available for horseback riding. These recommendations recognize the importance of the equine industry to the rural economy of the county, and to the preservation of its rural character and cultural heritage. The Alliance has accepted the goals and challenges implicit in this recognition and is working with the county’s Department of Economic Development to implement them. Two locations on the county website support this collaboration: a calendar of equestrian events and an on-line membership form which includes the opportunity to list businesses in the Alliance’s equine business directory can be found at www.biz.loudoun.gov/LCEA. The calendar of equestrian events can also be found at www.loudounfarms.org.

The Alliance is an organization dedicated to the support and growth of the equine industry in Loudoun County. Its mission is to advance the interests of all equine disciplines and related industries through a unified voice that advocates, educates and communicates the initiatives and benefits of the horse industry, within the equine community, to the public and to elected representatives. To accomplish its mission the Alliance has identified four goals, which are in the process of implementation.

First is to quantify the impact of the equine economy in Loudoun by surveying equestrian events in the county and by means of a mailed survey to horse owners and equestrian facility operators to gather information about the number of horses in Loudoun and the income and expenditures associated with equine operations. The surveys are being conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Research at the University of Virginia. The events survey is underway and the mailed survey is forthcoming.

Second is to promote the maintenance and expansion of equestrian facilities and trails to provide more opportunities for equestrians to enjoy their sport.

Third is to promote the acquisition and conservation of land for equine facilities and activities by both the public and private sectors.

The fourth goal is to attract, retain and expand equine related events and businesses in Loudoun County to ensure that this county remains Virginia’s Horse Country. The Alliance is publishing a calendar of equestrian events in the county and is building an on-line business directory which will list all equestrian facilities, professionals and service providers who wish to be included, free of charge. Information is gradually being added to these sites.

To be included in the business directory go to www.biz.loudoun/LCEA , complete a membership form and check the box for the business directory. There are no fees for membership or to be listed in the directory. Contact Kelly Foltman at dunthorpe@roadstarinternet.com for more information about the calendar of events and the business directory.

Anyone with interest in the horse industry in Loudoun County, whether horse owners, riders in all disciplines, equine facility operators, service providers or suppliers is invited to participate in the Alliance.

For more information contact Mary Terpak at mlterpak@earthlink.net or 540-822-5943.

Welcome to the discussion.