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Inside Florida’s Horse Industry: Kathy Brown

Kathy Brown

Inside Florida’s Horse Industry: Kathy Brown

“Horses built America.” ~Kathy Brown, Founder of Martin County Horse Council, Martin County, Florida In 1776, General George Washington developed the first American Cavalry, used to patrol the Atlantic coast during the American Revolution.

Kathy Brown Riding "Moonpie"

Kathy Brown Riding “Moonpie”

The Pony Express delivery service began in 1860. It took only 10 days for a letter to be sent from New York to California as riders sped back-to-back from sea to shining sea. Children’s book author and pioneer girl Laura Ingalls Wilder crossed the prairies in a covered wagon drawn by horses in the 1800s. Thousands of people farmed, traveled and lived by horse power during this era of development.

By 1900, approximately 130,000 horses were employed in Manhattan, New York City. During World War I, soldiers rode horses into battle; both the men and the horses wore gas masks to prevent poisoning. (American Museum of Natural History)

The horse though, is not obsolete. He can enter and exit quietly into rough territory. In 2001, U.S. Special Forces took horses to Afghanistan, covering terrain so rugged that no vehicle could pass. (USA Today)

Many states allow for a local posse. Their purpose: to track through rural areas for missing or lost persons or to respond to major manhunts. These groups are composed of local volunteers which are trained and used as needed. They must each have a horse.

Horses are used therapeutically for children with disabilities.

Horses are a part of the Olympics, the Special Olympics and other equestrian activities.

Horses are loved by Americans at every level of society.

Florida is the origin of horses in America, brought to the region by Ponce de Leon and the Spanish in 1521. From this stock came Cracker horses which herded longhorn cattle, another first in the United States. The first American Cowboys were the Crackers in Florida.

Today, “the State of Florida has more than 500,000 horses; the state is ranked third in the nation for horses.”(American Horse Council) “The Florida horse industry generates annually $3 billion and has a total annual economic impact estimated at around $5.1 billion.” (FloridaHorse)

Martin County Horse Council Founder Kathy Brown

Martin County Horse Council Founder Kathy Brown

Florida native Kathy Brown is the Founder of Martin County Horse Council in Martin County, Florida; the Council has developed a local equine-related organization to promote, unify, and advance the equestrian interests in Martin County. Kathy has seen a need for the preservation of Florida’s equine heritage.

Martin County boasts some of the best trail riding in the United States, taking visitors into wetlands, marshes, scrub, and woodlands. Many Florida State Parks have acreage set aside for horse trails, and in many places, the views and wildlife may only be seen from horseback.

Kathy Brown has looked to the future and has seen a growing horse community in her county, as many seasonal residents bring their animals south for wintering, training, and tourism. It’s been estimated by Joe Catrambone from the Stuart/Martin Chamber of Commerce that the horse community in Martin County is a “multi-million dollar” industry. (TCPalm)

The benefits of horse councils working with local government outweigh the bad. Kathy Brown states, “When government embraces the horse industry, it will see it as a welcoming choice for new horse-related residents, tourists and businesses.”

Kathy Brown is no stranger to service. In 1983 she left her position in the aviation industry to stay at home with her sons. She has been a community activist ever since for causes ranging from stay-at-home business mothers to Hurricane Andrew recovery in Miami.

Kathy utilized her leadership and organization skills to champion the horse industry cause by founding the Martin County Horse Council which provides a conduit of information on equine-related topics for the community and local government.

She quotes Margaret Mead, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

Kathy adds, “And they can, I’ve seen it happen.” For more information on the Martin County Horse Council, contact Kathy Brown at kathy4mchorsecouncil@gmail.com

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© 2015 “Hometown Heroes” Kelly Jadon