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ANNAPOLIS, MD – A delegation of U.S. and Maryland horse industry officials and professionals spent five days attending several important equestrian events in the Spanish Balearic Island of Menorca, located in the Mediterranean Sea, from May 25th to May 30th, 2022. Anne Litz of The Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB); Cheryl Stambaugh of the Maryland Standardbred Fund; Lisa Watts of Rosecroft Raceway; dressage trainer Julie Anne Staiger; and Jack Burke of Winbak Farm, the largest east coast breeder of standardbred horses with farms from Maryland, to Ontario, Canada, comprised the delegation led by Alejandra “Alex” Abella, equine industry consultant based in Annapolis, MD.

Second International Menorca Horse Convention main panel: U.S. delegation and members of the Menorca horse industry The delegation participated in the Second Annual International Menorca Horse Convention, with the Maryland horse industry professionals sharing important lessons on how the state’s varied industry united with the help of the Maryland Horse Industry Board. The convention drew the unique historic and equestrian parallels between Maryland and Menorca, including a historic naval connection through Admiral Ferragut, of Menorcan descent, and the importance of harness racing in both the state and the island. The US equestrian delegation was featured front page of the Menorca newspaper the day after the Convention, as well as in several other news outlets.

Other important visits for the delegation included: the Hipodrom Municipal De Mao - Mahón, one of Menorca’s two harness racing tracks; the Escola Equestre Menorquina to learn about the Purebred Menorca Horse (PRMe); and the main harness racing and fifth edition of Hats and Horses, an Ascot-style social event held at the Torre del Ram Hippodrome. The annual Hats and Horses event includes antique cars, live music, several harness races and betting, and demonstrations of several equestrian disciplines on the island. The U.S. delegation was again featured in Menorcan and other news outlets the day after the event.

The U.S. delegation poses at the Hats and Horses harness racing event with organizer Ariadna Vilalta and equestrian event organizer and trail operator Gemma Alcaraz of Menorca on Horseback/Son Bou Rutes a Cavall

The visit was sponsored and organized by Ariadna Vilalta, founder of Hats and Horses. Gemma Alcaraz of Menorca on Horseback/Son Bou Rutes a Cavall organized the non-harness equestrian events, and the Meliá Cala Galdana Hotel, a Meliá Hotels International beachfront property, hosted the delegation.

Gemma Alcaraz of Son Bou Rutes a Cavall, doing the traditional “bot” airs above the ground on a Purebred Menorcan Horse

Visit the Hats and Horses website ( for more information on the annual Hats and Horses events, or contact Alejandra ¨Alex¨ Abella for information on the U.S. delegation visit at (805)204-6961 or via

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