Saratoga County could broaden its agricultural and equestrian economies, save green space and increase tourism by building a New York Horse Park, say advocates who are pitching their plan anew.

The county is a natural choice for a horse park because it has the most horses in the state and a history of equine-related activities, said Marsha Himler, president of the New York Horse Park Committee.

Himler, the owner of Stonecroft Farm on Route 423, came up with the idea of a horse-based recreation and educational facility about eight years ago. She recently revived the concept with Supervisor Cheryl Keyrouze, D-Saratoga Springs.

The newly formed 11-member New York Horse Park Committee recently filed for nonprofit status and presented their idea to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno R-Brunswick, Assemblyman Bob Reilly, D-Colonie, and U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport.

They’ve hired an artist to create a logo and Web site, applied for a $130,000 national grant for a site selection study and intend to make numerous presentations to area officials in coming months.

A horse park would attract show jumping, dressage, Western riding and carriage driving competitions as well as exhibits, sales, shows, rodeos and more, Himler said. Like other successful horse parks in the country, it could contain campgrounds, provide shows and possibly grow into a school or university in the long term, Keyrouze said.

“It’s a venue for all different pursuits,” said Himler, who owns 28 horses and six cats on 47 acres.

New York has more than 200,000 horses, ranking it 16th in the U.S. Yet it is one of the few of the top horse states with no park dedicated to horses, Himler said.

In 2005, Saratoga County ranked first in the state with 11,000 animals at a total value of $251 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The number of animals dropped 7 percent from 2000, and value decreased 21 percent, the agency said.

The price of land in the region is growing fast at a time when farms are shrinking, but the growing success of the harness track in Saratoga Springs means more horses need facilities like a park, Keyrouze said.

The plan has the support of the National Steeplechase Association and other equine groups.

“The first thing people ask me is how come we don’t have one,” Keyrouze said. She said such a facility would help meet a lot of different needs. A horse park would become a destination for tourists, provide education and recreation, promote open space and help local agricultural businesses like feed companies, Keyrouze said.

A 2003 proposal to establish a horse park near Exit 12 of the Northway in Malta was tabled.

A horse park would require lots of land and command a big price.

Starting it up would require $25 million and a minimum of 300 acres, preferably near the Northway, Himler said. But the park would generate a huge economic shot in the arm, she said, citing statistics from horse parks in Virginia and Kentucky.

Saratoga County has the right environment and history for such a facility, Himler said. “You don’t want to put a horse park in an area that doesn’t have horses,” she said.

Himler said visitors to horse parks and shows spend a lot of money on things like food, lodging and more. Her trips to attend horse shows can cost her up to $500 a day, she said.