How We Did It: Woodstock Equestrian Park

January 1, 2014, Department, by Melissa Chotiner

The 827-acre park has been a labor of love for Montgomery Parks and its dedicated supporters and friends for 13 years.Building, renovating and expanding parks often takes longer than expected, but as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. The Woodstock Equestrian Park in Beallsville, Maryland, is one of those good things that has been in the works for many years. The 827-acre park has been a labor of love for Montgomery Parks and its dedicated supporters and friends for 13 years. And there is likely more work that will be done in the future.

The process began in late 1999/early 2000 when two Montgomery County families, with ties to and a love of the equestrian industry, generously donated several large contiguous tracts of land located in the Agricultural Reserve. Utilizing funding donated by the families and a $600,000 state grant, initial work began on developing a vision for the park. In 2002, after many meetings with the public and stakeholder groups, the Montgomery County Planning Board approved a master plan. The plan envisioned Woodstock Equestrian Park as a “first-class equestrian center” with an extensive, well-marked trail system, schooling and competition rings, a polo field, a cross-country course, an indoor arena and parking lots, and it acknowledged that the park would be built in phases pending availability of funds.  In 2004, the master plan was amended to allow the acquisition of an additional 81 acres of land.

The first phase of facilities was completed between 2002 and 2005 and consisted of boundary and topographic surveys,  structural assessments and historic documentation of the significant historic buildings, archaeological investigations, stone entrance walls,  gravel entrance drives and parking lots, equestrian fencing, more than 16 miles of natural surface trails including four equestrian bridges, way-finding and interpretive signage, an at-grade crossing of a major roadway, landscape planting and stormwater management.

In 2008, an additional $750,000 in funding became available through a donation and a state grant.  A consultant was hired to design improvements to the historic structures, a large outdoor riding arena, an expanded parking area, a cross-country course, signage, landscape planting and stormwater management facilities.  Construction began in 2011 and was completed in 2013.

In April 2013, the expanded Woodstock Equestrian Park opened to a crowd of its supporters, friends and elected officials. As Montgomery Parks’ first equestrian park, Woodstock satisfies the community’s need for an affordable, public facility to accommodate a popular form of outdoor recreation in the state and county. The outdoor riding ring and cross-country course are free and readily available to use, complementing many miles of beautiful, natural surface equestrian trails offered throughout Montgomery Parks. As evidenced by user feedback (see box at left), the new amenities at Woodstock are a welcome addition in the community.

Learn more about the Woodstock Equestrian Park here.

Feedback on the Woodstock Equestrian Park

The following comments were collected on the popular online equine forum The Chronicle of the Horse:

“The trails have been there for a while but the XC course just opened this spring. It’s a great place for greenbeans and BN/N (sic. Beginner/Novice/Novice) riders. Best part is that it is free!”

“Lovely for the young, green horses who need exposure — it’s free so no spending a big chunk of change just to school baby, BN or N fences. Good for novice riders on their first XC outings as well. The facility is well-maintained and the park manager is constantly making improvements. The course is small, but has a good flow and rides well. It is very local for us and convenient to have somewhere free and always open if someone wants to get in a last-minute school in the water, etc., before an event.”

Melissa Chotiner is the Media Relations Manager for Montgomery Parks. Linda Komes, Montgomery Parks Project Manager for the Woodstock Equestrian Park, and David Tobin, Montgomery Parks Manager for Community Partnerships, contributed to this article.