Large, majestic horses can be seen in every corner of Adams County.
Four-legged creatures can be used for horseback riding, training, training, breeding or sports. According to a study recently completed by the Adams County Planning and Development Office, horses are impacting the Adams County economy by $ 49 million.
“We knew there were a lot of horses in the county, but we really didn’t know to what extent,” said Mark Clowney, the county’s senior planner and co-author of the study.
Clowns and Harlan Lawson, Adams County Economic Development Specialist, began exploring the area’s equestrian industry shortly after completing the county’s fruit belt study in 2017. Consultant Howard Cohn of the Chesapeake Group has done much of the work on the fruit belt study. . Lawson and Clowns wanted research into the horse industry to be conducted mostly indoors, if necessary with the help of Kona.
Clowns and Lawson were the first to plan to use data collected from veterinarians. Veterinarians were reluctant to share a lot of information, so the couple adapted to a more terrestrial approach to determine how many horses are in Adams County.
They printed large aerial maps to collect initial data, but it was important to make sure there were horses on the pastures, not cows, Clowns said. The duo set off: one was driving and the other was holding cards to mark their findings.
Clowns and Lawson covered 184,000 of the county’s 334,000 acres during their travels.
“A huge amount of the rest of the area is the Misho State Forest,” Lawson said.
They then sent surveys to horse owners and conducted personal interviews with eight respondents.
“In many cases, they were very open with us,” Lawson said.
Their study concluded that 5,700 horses occupy 8,489 acres of pasture in Adams County.
“Essentially, the size of a medium-sized municipality in Adams County is used by one particular animal in Adams County,” Lawson said.
A Fruit Belt study found that crops are grown predominantly in the Upper Adams County. Horses are everywhere.
“The fruit belt is a limited area of the district. Horses can go wherever they are allowed, ”Clowns said. “When we rode, it was like ‘boom, there’s a horse.'”
The team also noted that horses are used for a variety of purposes such as planting, breeding, entertainment and recreation. The total economic impact of the equestrian industry on Adams County is $ 49,023,000, according to the report.
The 36-page study covers several operations, including the Hanoverian Shoe Farm, the Little Horse Country and the National Horse Rescue Stable. Swan Lake Stable, located on Flatbush Road in Littlestown, has an indoor arena measuring 350 by 120 feet and seven open rings.
“Most of the weekend they spend there activities where they gather thousands of people,” Lawson said. “They make people come and spend money on other things that are not agritourism, such as restaurants and hotels.”
Clowns added that horse owners are making large investments in caring for their animals.
“They spend money locally if they can,” Clowns said.
The study also shows that there is reason to believe that the impact of the horse industry on Adams County is likely to grow: sales of standard breeds in 2018 and 2019 in Harrisburg broke records, Amish begin to leave Lancaster County due to conflicts with violators of settlements and suburban communities. and COVID-19 is accelerating the popularity of agritourism.
Clowns and Lawson do not want the “Economic Assessment of the Horse Industry” to be “another report that stands on the counter.”
In their research, a pair of scholarly horses are usually classified as pets. The study discusses the importance of differentiation between workhorses and pleasure horses. Pet owners are eligible for funding, financing and tax breaks that pet owners do not have, so horse owners are often at a disadvantage because of the universal classification, Lawson said.
“Adams County should establish a task force consisting of state and local entities to identify and facilitate the adoption of appropriate definitions of horse activity that comply with the new federal regulations for both the county and local jurisdictions,” the study said. “Selected representatives of the local horse industry should also be included in the task force to provide a different perspective.”
The study also warns that future development could threaten the county’s equestrian industry because related odors could be seen as a nuisance.
“County and local jurisdictions should examine the unity of horse farms in and around rural residential areas to ensure that horse ownership contributes to the preservation of Adams County character,” the study suggests.
The study notes that 540 of the 8,400 acres of horse pasture are permanently stored. This involves efforts to increase this percentage so that the economic impact of the industry on the county is not threatened by development.
“The constant distribution of funding (for preservation) is cost-effective in difficult economic times, allowing procurement at levels that cannot be achieved once economic conditions improve. Maintaining the level of funding for these purposes is very important, ”the study says.
Clown and Lawson’s work with the study of horses is complete. Now industry supporters need to use research to their advantage.
Russell Williams, the fourth generation president of Hanover Shoe Farms, is ready to take the ball and run with it.
Williams said he was impressed with the study. Since horses are his life, he was not surprised by any of the findings, but hopes it will make others understand the industry’s impact on Adams County. A few years ago, he recalled a stand at a local diner that highlighted aspects of Adams County, including apples and cows.
“There was no horse, there was no horse on the river!” Said Williams.
Last year, Hanover Shoe Farms sold teens for $ 15 million.
“This money is outside Adams County, and we’re spending it here,” Williams said. “We take money from Sweden, Italy, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and spend it here.”
Williams said his farm is home to 40 families and his business spends $ 6 million on hay and straw.
Research on the county’s horses will be a useful tool if it advocates for the industry in Harrisburg and Washington, DC
Lawson and Clowns begin to explore the topic of their next study of economic impact. They believe it will be a different form of animal, but want to consult with district commissioners and other stakeholders first. They said the willingness of industry owners to share information is also key to the success of the study.
“Without the involvement of horse owners, this study would not have been as accurate as we know it,” Clowns said.