Horse Heritage Trail
By Ellen Moyer
The state’s first Horse Heritage Trail has opened, not in Anne Arundel County where the horse was once supreme, but in Worcester County, which contains Ocean City and Berlin. Berlin is America’s coolest small town with at least a dozen sites where the horse partnered with people to make them economically prosperous over the last 350 years.
The trail is the first in a series of local efforts across the state to celebrate our horse heritage. After all, thoroughbred racing as we know it began in Maryland, Annapolis to be exact.
But the horse has many stories to tell and those stories begin in Worcester County with the wild horses of Assateague Island, now a national and state park on the Atlantic Ocean. The trail put together by three volunteers, myself and Angela Reynolds and Margaret Worrell, highlights areas in the county significant to the horse. It can be viewed at www. MDHistoric HorseTrails.com
The trail can be visited by car, or if you’re in a physical fitness mood, by bike or kayak. Through Holly Ridge Farm, one can even ride horses on the beach. Eventually the historical sites will be tagged by the Maryland Department of Transportation with a number to link to your mobile phone for information.
The trail includes the Riddle Farm, once the most important horse farm in the country. It was the training site for Man O’War and War Admiral. All that is left of the Riddle Farm is the barn that housed 40 champion horses. It has been remodeled into a Ruth’s Chris Steak House with a lot of original horse memorabilia. The trail includes a 1760 historic home and two museums. It tells stories about how horses on the shore helped save people from boat wrecks, pulled in pound nets for fishermen, provided transportation to Philadelphia and ocean resorts before the train came along. In the early 1900s the train carried the Riddle thoroughbreds to race meets throughout the Northeast. It was a five-mile walk to get to or from the railroad station and Riddle Farm.
While in Annapolis, you can brag about walking in the footprints of George Washington; in Berlin, you walk in the hoof prints of Man O’ War.
Watch for more heritage trails as they are developed in Southern Maryland and Baltimore County as well as Anne Arundel County.
Ellen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443.370.1785, if you have horse stories that you would like to share.