Beauty of the beast Horse farm tour shows state of the art

September 09, 1992|By Muphen Whitney | Muphen Whitney,Contributing Writer

For some, it might have simply been a casual tour of area horse farms. But Bill Reightler, manager of Chanceland Farm in West Friendship, hopes visitors during last weekend's Maryland Million Horse Country Tour learned something about the racing industry's contributions to the state's economy.

"People come out for something like this and they see the beautiful farms and the beautiful horses, but they don't realize the great economic impact of this industry," Mr. Reightler said Sunday as 58 people braved the rain to tour Chanceland. Chanceland was one of two Howard County horse farms on the tour.

"Farms like this really stand out in people's minds," he said, "but the horse business in Maryland is made up of a lot of small breeders and owners. There are all the people who supply goods and services. The farriers, the feed companies, the tack stores, the equipment places -- this is a huge industry."

Chanceland, a 200-acre facility in West Friendship owned by racing veterans Bob Manfuso and Katy Voss, currently houses 70 horses in the main barn and the "nursery barn." It is a state-of-the-art center for breeding and training Thoroughbred race horses. It also is something of a learning lab.

"A little while back, I got a call from a kid who said he wanted to learn about the horse business," said Mr. Reightler. "He said he had worked a little at another barn and he and his granddad owned a mare."

That call was from 14-year-old Randy Popielasz of Mount Airy. Mr. Reightler took the youngster seriously and invited him to come to Chanceland.

Randy watches what everyone does around the barn and "jumps in to help everyone," according to Mr. Reightler. "He started out sweeping floors and filling water buckets, and now he's handling the horses some, leading them and grooming the mares.

"Working with horses is a legacy that we have to pass on," Mr. Reightler explains.

Down the road and across the way lie the 134 acres that Jack and Gretchen Mobberley have turned into their dream farm.

The Mobberleys' Summer Hill Farm, the other Howard County farm on the tour, houses race horses and show horses in an attractive and practical facility that Jack Mobberley designed.

"Actually, I stole this design from Coventry Farm," Mr. Mobberley admits with his characteristic grin, gazing down one of the aisles into the big indoor riding arena.

The Mobberleys built the barn three years ago, and Jack Mobberley says that he wouldn't change a thing about it.

"It's wonderfully functional," he explains. "The horses are comfortable year round, because we can adapt this building to the different weather that we get each season in this part of the country."

When asked who the star of the barn is, the owner of that title answers for herself.

"No doubt about it, she's my star," laughs Mr. Mobberley as a big, gorgeous chestnut mare whinnies and bobs her head up and down. "Isn't she a looker? That's why they named her 'TV Vanna.' "

Mr. Mobberley and 5-year-old Vanna hunt with Howard-Iron Bridge Hounds.

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