Horse center draws response

What's On Your Mind

September 27, 1999

Last week we asked: In recent articles, The Sun described the financial problems of the Columbia Horse Center, the role that former Columbia Association President Padraic M. Kennedy played in continuing to operate the center and the association's 10-year improvement plan. Do you use the center? Do you think the association should continue to run it as is or close it? Should Columbians subsidize association facilities or programs that are used primarily by nonresidents? Here are your responses:

Pat Kennedy has had an honorable, important and successful tenure as one of Columbia's great leaders -- a founding father in the best sense. He skillfully guided and encouraged us as we grew into the diverse, tolerant, lively and accepting community we are today. The Sun's efforts to attack Pat bring discredit not to him, but to the paper.

Andy Barth, Columbia

I do not want to see the Columbia Horse Center close. As a matter of fact, my daughter used it approximately 24 years ago, for four years, boarding a horse there. I just hope that the association can continue to run it. If not them, some other outside source. I think it should be open to the public, I think you need more support than what you're getting, and horse shows should be encouraged. They are a good moneymaker.

Sandra E. Moore, Ellicott City

I would be interested in using the horse facility and other Columbia facilities, but I feel because I don't live there I would have to pay such an exorbitant amount of money, as a penalty for not living there, that I don't even consider it. I would love to know that these things are open to the rest of Howard County. And perhaps things would be more successful if more people could use them, because there would be a better economic base for their budget.

Dottie Siders, Woodbine

I have used the Columbia Horse Center for over 15 years. I donated one horse to the lesson program and boarded two horses with the facility. In the last 2-3 years, the staff and management of the facility have improved 300 percent. CA has invested in the facility in much needed improvements, which will show as a loss initially, but in the long run those kinds of capital improvements pay off. The Columbia Horse Center is now one of the best-run facilities in the state. This article made mention of the Patapsco horse center in Catonsville. Its organization, follow-up and professionalism does not even compare with that of the Columbia Horse Center.

Diedra Schaefer, Arnold

The question posed in "What's On Your Mind?" and Erika Niedowski's recent articles seem to assume that we nonresident customers of the Columbia Horse Center are getting some sort of a free ride (pun intended) from the Columbia Association's $94,000 subsidy of that facility this year. But the opposite appears to be the case: nonresidents seem to be subsidizing the center's residents' usage way beyond the level CA does. CA's subsidy amounts to about $13 per month per resident user. We nonresidents pay on average about $36 more per month for lessons. To us, any excess we pay over that $13 is a subsidy to CA, the Horse Center or both. Should not CA have commended the Horse Center's management for attracting the 57 percent of us nonresidents, who fund perhaps two-thirds of the horsy expenditures? It seems that we are crucial to the Horse Center's existence: forcing us to competing facilities by increasing our fees is just biting the hand that feeds.

Jim and Ellen Billiter, Laurel

I am a non-Columbia resident, Columbia Association member and have been taking riding lessons at the CA Horse Center for several years. I was both appalled and disgusted by your article on 9/22/99 regarding the Columbia Horse Center. I pay a premium to belong to the CA, but I was not aware that the mission statement for CA including anything about making a profit. CA exemplifies everything that is good about Howard County. It offers a diverse, quality product at a reasonable cost to the local citizens. I have taken lessons at two other local stables and can say that the Columbia Horse Center is the best facility in the area with respect to quality of instructors, care provided to the horses and the high level of concern for the safety and well-being of every horse and rider. This is a very valuable service that is provided to the community, and I sincerely hope that the shortsightedness of the author of this article does not adversely affect this facility.

Katy Wheeler, Elkridge

Columbia Horse Center (CHC) saved my daughter from a potential life of teen-age angst and substance abuse, which many of her nonriding friends unfortunately did not have the opportunity to do. From the age of 9, riding lessons and horse showing, then horse leasing, and finally horse ownership gave my daughter a sense of self-esteem, taught her to be responsible, and enabled her to meet people from all over the area who have broadened her horizons and enhanced her life. As a single mother and a teacher, I feel the investment I made at and because of CHC was the wisest investment I have ever made -- next to college.

Margie Klapper, Laurel

Pub Date: 9/27/99

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