The equine industry is alive and well and thriving in southeastern Pennsylvania, a new study by Delaware Valley University shows.
The Impact of the Equine Industry on the Economy of Southeastern Pennsylvania studied the horse industry in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon Montgomery, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York Counties, an area which the US Department of Agriculture 2012 Census says accounts for 36 percent of the equine population of Pennsylvania and 32 percent of the equine farms. The survey determined that there are more than 50,000 equines in the 10-county region, an increase of 9.3 percent over the past five years.
The equine industry spends $546 million on goods, services, wages, and salaries in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Horse owners and enthusiasts in this region spend $386 million on equine-related goods and services each year. The industry employs 6,550 people with an annual payroll of $160 million. When indirect spending is included, the economic impact of the equine industry in the 10-county region is $670 million per year. Equine activities generate $58 million in tax revenue, including $8.8 million in property taxes.
The centennial year for Andrews Bridge Foxhounds has been one that is full of changes, but the hunt goes on, looking forward to their second century.
“We are celebrating our 100th year, we are still standing, we are hunting, we have great community relations, we’ve got fabulous country, and anybody who would like to come out and hunt with us - we would love to speak with them and have them give us a try,” Joint Master of Fox Hounds Betsy Harris said.
The hunt’s roots go back even longer than a century. When the Upland Hunt in Chester County was disbanded in 1910, Samuel Riddle started his own pack of hounds, all Penn-Marydel black and tans, hunting Upland’s former territory.
Riddle’s main interest was racing, and he turned his pack over to Walter M. Jeffords, who took over the mastership. The name of the hunt was changed to Mr. Jeffords Hounds, with the kennels on Jeffords’ farm in Delaware County, PA. This change around 1917 is considered the founding of the hunt, and to this day, the hunt buttons carry the letter MJH for Mr. Jeffords Hounds.
After 44 years leading the first flight of the Cochran Hunt, John Evans is handing off that responsibility, but he is still riding in the first flight every hunting Saturday and enjoying every moment of it.
“I turned 80 and I thought it was time for me to ride back in the group and not have this responsibility. So, I gave it up as of last March,” Evans said. “I’m still in the first flight, I’m just not in charge, and therefore I can socialize more.”
For 70 years, Evans has been following this pack of Pennmarydel black and tan hounds with the Cochran Hunt Club in southern Chester County, PA. “When I first started, it wasn’t a club - it was just a pack of hounds,” he said.
Evans was introduced to riding when he was 8 or 9 years old and began fox hunting with the group when he was just ten. “I had the choice of a farmer’s horse that wasn’t being used that day and I could ride it, or, on the edge of Atglen, there was an older gentleman who bought and sold ponies. We would stop there, and if he had a pony he wanted exercised I could ride that pony that day, so those were my two choices.” Evans said. “We rode from there to the hunt and that would have been several miles, and when we were done hunting we rode back to that barn.”
He leads all North American trainers with 725 victories from 3,663 seasonal trips to the starting gate, tops those same standings with $16.7 million in the bank, has the fastest trotting female in history, the Canadian Trotting Classic victor, the Little Brown Jug winner and a recent world champion 2-year-old pacing filly in his barn. Ron Burke, however, stated in a simulcast interview at the Red Mile that this year was not exactly transpiring as he had planned.
“Maybe our 2-year-olds were not as good as we had hoped in the beginning and our year started out a little slow,” said the Fredericktown, Pa., resident. “But our horses are firing on all cylinders now and it looks like we will finish out the season very strong.”
Burke and his team were the recipients of a crushing disappointment when What The Hill was disqualified from a triumph in the $1 million Hambletonian, one of the few classic contests he has never captured, as the result of an interference ruling. Perfect Spirit, who crossed the finish line in second, was awarded the victory while What The Hill, owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stable, Melville, N.Y., Deo Volente Farms, Flemington, N.J. and J&T Silva Stables, Long Beach, N.Y., was placed ninth.