Maryland’s Historic Horse Trail

Assateague campsite and pony

First stop, Assateague
National Park, where wild ponies may wander through your campsite!

People living in the state of Maryland sure are lucky. The Maryland Historic Horse Trails program recently unveiled a driving route for horse loving visitors. Eleven key spots with historic importance in the horse world have been organized into the “Horses at the Beach” tour. Let’s go along for the ride!

The first stop on the trail is the Assateague National Seashore Park, home of Maryland’s famous “Wild Horses,” the Assateague Ponies. Once you’re on the island a kayak trail makes it possible to see these wild ponies up close and, if your lucky, you can bring your own horse to ride along the beach! As you can see in the picture above, you can even camp on the island!

The ponies history at Assateague dates back to the early 1700’s. Years ago, a Spanish shipwreck was discovered off the island, offering support to the long time belief that the horses are descendants of the survivors of the shipwreck.

1. In what century did ponies appear on Assateague Island?

We’re going to need to check the map to find out where we’re going next and how to get there.

Historic Horse Trail Maplg1

Near the town of Berlin is the second stop on the tour, Glen Riddle Farm (shown by the number 2), home of one of the greatest North American race horses of the 20th century, Man ‘o War.

2. In what direction do you travel to get from Assateague Island (indicated by the number 1 on the map) to Glen Riddle Farm? 

Man 'o War in 1920

Man ‘o War in 1920

In 1917, a successful businessman named Sam Riddle purchased the yearling Man o’ War for $5,000. Man o’ War went on to set 5 racing records and win 20 out of 21 starts by the time he retired and become an international athletic star. He was entered into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1957.

3. Calculate Man ‘o War’s winning percentage.

4. How many years has it been since Man ‘o War entered the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame?  

On the corner of Baker and Main Streets in the nearby town of Berlin is stop number 3, the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum. Man o’ War would have walked past here several times from the train depot on Baker Street to the farm 5 miles (8 km) away and back again to catch the train for races in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Keep this in mind as you walk through town, you may be walking in the hoofprints of Man ‘o War!

5. Horses walk at an average speed of 4 mph (6.4 kph). How long would it have taken Man ‘o War to walk from the train station in Berlin to Glenn Riddle Farm?

On the second floor of the museum one whole room is taken up with the images and history of the Glenn Riddle Farm.

railway lineAnother site in Berlin is the Atlantic Hotel, which housed the town’s livery stable. A horse-drawn bus met travellers at Union station, another historic stop on the route. The bus delivered passengers to the hotel where they could rent a horse or buggy for their individual traveling needs.

This was also where sales of horses and mules were held. The livestock would arrive in Berlin by rail and then be driven up through town from the station to the Atlantic Stable.

Stage coach lines were established for people traveling between towns on the coast and Philadelphia. It’s about 145 miles (233 km) from Berlin to Philadelphia. It wouldn’t take long now in a car, but how long would it have taken back then?

The average speed of a trotting horse ranges between 8 to 12 mph (13 to 19 kph).

6. Let’s assume an average speed of 10 mph (16 kph). How long would it take to travel from Berlin to Philadelphia at that speed?

life saving rescue horses

A life saving station staff member poses with two of the equestrian staff.Where do we go next? Check the map to find stop 4, Ocean City and the Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum.

Where shall we go next? Check the map to find stop 4, at Ocean City. Let’s go there and check out the Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum and the Ocean Downs harness racing track.

7. At the moment we’re still in Berlin, in which direction will we travel to reach Ocean City?

8. Using the map scale, estimate how far it is between Berlin and Ocean City. (Click on the map to make it bigger before using the scale.)

Other stops on the route include the Rackliffe Plantation, the Wicomico Hunt Club and The State Park at Pocomoke where there are miles of horse riding trails.

You decide you want to see the Holly Ridge Equestrian Center, the area’s first certified Equine Experience Center where the public can enjoy and learn about horses firsthand. It is number 11 on the route map.

9. From Ocean City, which direction will you travel to get to the equestrian center?

10. Using the scale, approximately how far is it from Ocean City to the Holly Ridge Equestrian Center?

Click hereif you’d like to download your own Historic Horse Tour brochure!

Are there interesting equine destinations in your area? Send us your idea for an equestrian themed road trip. If we can, we’ll use your planned horse trail for a post for HLM!

Unless otherwise noted, all photos are courtesy of Historic Horse Trail
Man ‘o War; public domain

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One Response to “Maryland’s Historic Horse Trail”

  1. HLM
    December 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    This Historic Horse Trail received the “Best Product or Event” Award of 2014 at the annual Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit!

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