two women riding horses

Horse Industry Statistics in 2022 (U.S. Data)

It’s no secret that horse riding is immensely popular among Americans. In addition to the joy of horse riding, the horse industry itself is a significant contributor to the American economy. 

Here’s what the latest research tells us about the horse industry statistics.

Horse Industry Statistics

Highlights of horse statistics:

  • The horse industry contributes $122 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
  • The U.S. horse industry employs 1.74 million people.
  • There are 7.25 million horses in the U.S.
  • Texas has the highest horse population per state.
  • 1.6 million households in the U.S. own horses.
  • 60% of equestrians work in managerial positions.
  • 50% of horse owners have an annual income of over $100,000.
  • The average price of a riding horse is $3,444.
  • The annual ownership cost of a recreational horse is $7,896.

The horse industry contributes $122 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

According to the American Horse Council Foundation’s 2017 horse economy study, an estimate of the total contribution of the horse industry to the U.S. economy is $122 billion annually. (1)

Total Value Added to the U.S. EconomyDirect Contribution to GDPTotal Employment ImpactDirect Employment ImpactNumber of Horses in the U.S.
$122 Billion$50 Billion1,744,747988,3947,200,000

The horse industry produces goods and services of $50 billion as a direct economic impact on the U.S. economy.

Additionally, the industry contributes $38 billion in direct wages, salaries, and benefits.

This economic contribution directly affects other sectors in the economy and by combining these effects, the estimated total contribution of the horse industry to the U.S. economy is $122 billion annually.

States, where the horse industry contributes the most to the state GDP are Kentucky (1%), Oklahoma (0.62%), and Florida (0.26%). (2)

Here’s a quick overview (2) of horse industries’ impact on GDP. 

RankStateIndustry Share of State GDPGDP Contribution from Horses (millions)State GDP in 2016 (millions)Total Number of Horses
#1 HighestKentucky1.00%$1,941$195,035238,000
#2 HighestOklahoma0.62%$1,109$178,970252,700
#3 HighestFlorida0.26%$2,396$938,086387,100
#1 LowestNew York0.08%$1,206$1,540,970154,000
#2 LowestCalifornia0.11%$2,813$2,665,349534,500
#3 LowestIllinois0.11%$866$803,680150,400

These numbers are interesting, as for example, the GDP of California, a state with the second-highest number of horses in the U.S., has one of the lowest GDP contribution shares from the horse industry.

At the same time, the GDP of Florida, a state with the third-highest number of horses, does rely more heavily on the horse industry. 

The U.S. horse industry employs 1.74 million people.

The horse industry employment impact is bigger than it might seem at first glance.

According to the American Horse Council horse industry trends, the estimated total employment impact of the horse industry is 1,744,747 million jobs. (1)

Total VolunteersTotal EmploymentDirect EmploymentDirect Wages
1,370,0001,744,747988,394$38 billion

It’s interesting to see that the jobs in the equine industry are in demand.

The horse industry has a direct employment impact of 988,394 jobs and contributes $38 billion in direct wages, salaries, and benefits. 

Equestrian industry statistics also show that 1,370,000 people volunteer their time for horse-related activities annually. (3)

Interestingly enough, the horse industry directly employs more people than railroads, radio & television broadcasting, petroleum & coal products manufacturing, and tobacco product manufacturing. (4)

IndustryDirect Employment in the U.S.
Horse Industry (1)988,394
Tobacco Product Manufacturing (5)271,400
Radio & television broadcasting (6)248,400
Rail Industry (7)135,000
Petroleum & Coal Products Manufacturing (8)101,600

There are 7.25 million horses in the U.S.

According to The American Horse Council (AHC), there has been some confusion in the past on exact U.S. horse population numbers. (9)

This is because there are three main organizations (National Agriculture Statistic Service (NASS), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and AHC) that collect and publish data regarding the U.S. horse population and each organization counts the numbers differently.

This is why AHC has combined the data from all the available sources and offers the latest, most precise overview of the horse population.

According to AHC equine industry statistics (2017), there are 7,246,835 horses (9) in the U.S, including both recreational and commercial horses. 

Here’s a quick overview of the number of horses based on activities. (3)

ActivityNumber of horsesPercentage of horses
Recreational Horses3,141,44943%
Showhorses1,227,98617%
Racing and Racehorse breeding1,224,48217%
Workhorses in Farms, Ranches, Police Work, Rodeo, Polo, etc.537,2618%
Amish Institutionally Owned156,4302%
Other959,22713%
Total Horses in the U.S.7,246,835100%

According to USDA/National Animal Health Monitoring System, the Quarter horse (39.5%) and Thoroughbred Horse (10.2%) are the most popular horse breeds in the U.S. (10)

Interestingly enough, between 1992 and 2005, the breeds with the highest number of new horse registrations were the Quarter horse and the Paint horse.

Horse BreedPercentage of PopulationNew Breed Registrations (1991-2005)Approximate Population (1998)
Quarter Horse39.5%2,844,2733,487,850
Thoroughbred Horse10.2%506,333900,600
Arabian Horse7.8%164,026688,740
Appaloosa Horse5.9%145,037520,970
Paint Horse5.4%663,512476,820
Draft Horse4.8%423,840
Tenn. Walking Horse4.8%178,112423,840
Standardbred Horse3.5%174,634309,050
Other Breeds18.1%1,598,230

According to Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR), there are a total of 699 living horse breeds in the world. (11)

Horse Breeds
in the World
Horse Breeds
in Europe
Horse Breeds in
North America
U.S. Recognized
Horse Breeds
6993072611

Europe makes up the highest number of 307 horse breeds and North America makes up a total of 26 horse breeds. 

The U.S. Equestrian Federation recognizes 11 horse breeds and 18 disciplines, including the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian disciplines. (12)

Texas has the highest horse population per state.

According to American Horse Council Foundation (2017) data, 45 states in America have over

20,000 horses residing there. (3)

Top horse states with the highest number of horses are Texas with 767,100 horses, California with 534,500 horses, and Florida with 387,100 horses. (1)

Here’s a quick overview of the top horse states with the highest and lowest horse populations. (13)

StateNumber of HorsesDecline Since 2003Percentage Decline
#1 HighestTexas767,100211,72221.63%
#2 HighestCalifornia534,500163,84523.46%
#3 HighestFlorida387,100113,02422.60%
#1 LowestRhode Island2,60090925.90%
#2 LowestHawaii6,1001,93724.10%
#3 LowestDelaware8,0003,08327.82%
Total HorsesUnited States7,246,8351,976,01221.43%

States with the lowest horse populations are Rhode Island with 2,600 horses, Hawaii with 6,100 horses, and Delaware with 8,000 horses. 

1.6 million households in the U.S. own horses.

Horse ownership has been rather stable in recent years.

According to American Horse Council equestrian statistics (2017), out of all U.S. households, only 1.3% own horses (1.6 million households). (3)

Research also found that 30.5% (38 million) of U.S. households hold horse enthusiasts and spectators.

Horses per Owner (avg.)Horse Owning HouseholdsTotal Number of HorsesHorse Enthusiasts and Spectators
6 horses1.6 million7.2 million38 million

Another interesting equine industry trend is that 16% of people who participate in horse-related activities actually do not own a horse. Additionally, 13.2% spectate at horse events but do not own or participate.

A recent study conducted in 2021 shows that the average U.S. horse owner owns 6 horses. 73% of horse owners expect to own/manage the same number of horses in 2022 as well. (14)

In contrast, the average showhorse owner owns more than 2 horses, typically valued at $10,000 or more each. (15)

The horse owning data shows that most horse owners are not just recreational owners but actively participate in economic activities as well.

According to research, 20% of horse owners are involved as horse trainers and 17% give lessons and instruction. (16)

Here are the most common activities by horse owners:

  • 20% – Involved as horse trainers
  • 17% – Give lessons
  • 19% – Farm managers
  • 14% – Breeders
  • 5% – Veterinary activities
  • 5% – Farrier activities 
  • 23% – Other (e.g. Boarding and equine-assisted therapy)

60% of equestrians work in managerial positions.

According to the American Horse Council (AHC) equestrian demographics data, 92.6% of horse owners are female. (9) 

Another AHC study found that 52% of equestrians are married and 58% are college graduates. (4)

The equestrian culture data also shows that 60% of equestrians work in managerial positions and 4 out of 5 individuals are members of at least 2 equestrian organizations.

GenderMedian AgeMarital statusEmployment
92.6% Female38 years of age52% Married60% Managerial

Data shows that the median age of horse owners is 38 years of age. (17) The highest number of horse owners are 45-59 years old. (3)  

Millennials account for 42% of all horse owners and 41% of horse owners are over 45 years of age.

Horse Owners AgePercentage of Owners
Under 1812%
18-245%
25-3422%
35-4420%
45-5923%
60+18%

What is surprising is that the age bracket of 18-24 has the lowest amount of horse owners and this number is declining. 

Another study found that 53.4% of horse-owning households have only one member of the household being involved with horses and 35.7% have 2 household members being involved with horses. (18)

50% of horse owners have an annual income of over $100,000.

Horse owning and equestrianism is often referred to as a prestigious hobby and affordable only by the rich.

The horse owner demographics data shows that the overall income distribution among people who ride horses is skewed towards the higher income brackets.

According to American Horse Council horse-riding figures, 50% of all horse owners earn over $100,000 annually. Horse owners with an income of $150,000 or more accounts for 28%. (19)

Annual income under $50,000 accounts for 15% of horse owners.

Annual IncomePercentage of Owners
$0 to $24,9993%
$25,000 to $49,99912%
$50,000 to $74,99919%
$75,000 to $99,99916%
$100,000 to $149,99922%
$150,000 plus28%

The typical U.S. Equestrian member has an average net worth of $1,504,051 (20) and a household income of $211,738 (21). The majority (84%) of members own the main residence and have an average of three vehicles. 

Interestingly enough, equestrians are also active in the stock market. The data shows that 85% of equestrians own investments and the average investment portfolio is worth $724,791. (22) 

The average price of a riding horse is $3,444.  

Just like with anything in life, the average cost of a horse depends on a lot of factors.

According to the University of Maine, the price of a horse can vary from free to a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the pedigree, health, and level of training. (23)

The equine market data concludes that the average cost of a recreational horse is $3,444 (24). The cost of most recreational horses will be under $10,000.

Recreational
Horse Price
Showhorse
Price
Racehorse
Price
$3,444$11,248$45,532

It’s important to differentiate a $3,000 horse from a $10,000+ horse. The latter type is usually bred in top breeders for showhorses or racehorses. They usually have impressive bloodlines, are developed for specific purposes, and are imported from other countries.

A typical showhorse costs over $11,248. (25) Showing a horse will usually have additional fees; a small local horse show can cost at least $15,446, even before the first horse has set a hoof on the grounds. (27)

According to Keeneland equestrian industry data, the leading racehorse industry’s auction house, the average racehorse sales price based on 1,045 horse sales in January 2022 is $45,532, the top price being $750,000. (28)

The annual ownership cost of a recreational horse in the U.S. is $7,896.

The fact is that horse ownership is expensive, no matter how you look at it. But 10/10 horse owners say it is worth it.

Horse ownership costs will vary a lot depending on where you live, how many and what type of horses you have, and if you have housing capabilities or looking for a full boarding option.

According to the American Horse Council, the annual horse ownership cost in the U.S. for a recreational horse is $7,896. (29)

Horse TypeOwnership Cost (2016)Ownership Cost (2021)Percentage Change
Recreational Horse$6,710$7,896+16%
Showhorse$24,239$28,524+16%

The most basic and common monthly horse expenses are board, feed, vet, and hoof care. These are costs most horse owners cannot avoid. 

Here’s a quick overview of horse ownership costs with rough price ranges.

Cost TypeMonthly CostAnnual Cost
Board (31)$100-$600$1,200-$7,200
Feed (31)$20-$365$250-$4,380
Veterinary (31)$16-$30$200-$350
Farrier (31)$10-$84$120-$1,000
Training (32)$400-$700$4,800-$8,400
Insurance (15)$83-$167$1,000-$2,000

Additional expenses to consider are tack and equipment, clothing, grooming tools, horse sitting, track usage, shows and outings, riding lessons, and unseeable other costs.

According to equine industry research, an average equestrian spends upward of $11,335 annually on horse-related products. (33) Everything from de-wormers and grooming products to minerals and trainer fees.

References

  1. American Horse Council. 2020. Economic Impact Of The United States Horse Industry. Link
  2. Data Paddock, American Horse Council. 2016. US horses and state GDP, 2016. Link
  3. Muma Business Review, Robyn Lord, University of South Florida. 2019. The Equine Industry: Competing Beliefs, Changes and Conflicts. CC BY-NC. Link
  4. The Equestrian Channel, American Horse Council. 2002. Horse Industry Statistics. Link
  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2020. May 2020 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. Link
  6. Statista. 2021. Total employment in U.S. broadcasting industries from 2001 to 2020. Link
  7. Statista. 2021. Number of employees in U.S. freight rail industry from 2014 to 2020. Link
  8. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2020. Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing: NAICS 324. Link
  9. American Horse Council. 2020. US Horse Population – Statistics. Link
  10. The Humane Society, Emily R. Kilby. 2007. The Demographics of the U.S. Equine Population. Link
  11. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Rupak Khadka. 2010. Global Horse Population with respect to Breeds and Risk Status. Link
  12. U.S. Equestrian. 2022. Breeds & Disciplines. Link
  13. Data Paddock, American Horse Council. 2016. US horse population, 2003 versus 2016. Link
  14. Equus Magazine. 2021. Survey shows stability in horse ownership statistics. Link
  15. Equivont. 2018. Equestrian Market Research Report 2018: The Stats. Link
  16. EquiManagament, Nancy S. Loving. 2020. Trends in the Equine Industry. Link
  17. Data Paddock, American Horse Council. 2016. US horse owner age, 2003 and 2016, AHC. Link
  18. American Horse Publications, C. Jill Stowe, Ph.D. 2018. Results from the 2018 AHP Equine Industry Survey. Link
  19. Data Paddock, American Horse Council. 2016. US horse owner income, 2003 and 2016, AHC. Link
  20. The original net worth was $955,400 (4) in 2002. The inflation-adjusted net worth in December 2021 was $1,504,050.99. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator. Link 
  21. The original household income was $134,500 (4) in 2002. The inflation-adjusted household income in December 2021 was $211,738.39. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator. Link
  22. The original investment portfolio was $460,400 (4) in 2002. The inflation-adjusted investment portfolio in December 2021 was $724,790.74. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator. Link
  23. The University of Maine. 2022. Bulletin #1004, Equine Facts: Guide to First-Time Horse Ownership. Link
  24. The original horse price was $3,000 (23) in 2017. The inflation-adjusted horse price in December 2021 was $3,444.28. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator. Link
  25. The original showhorse price was $10,000 (15) in 2018. The inflation-adjusted showhorse price in December 2021 was $11,248.05. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator. Link
  26. American Quarter Horse Association. 2017. The Cost of Showing. Link
  27. The original horse show price was $12,948 (26) in 2015. The inflation-adjusted horse show price in December 2021 was $15,446.38. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator. Link
  28. Keeneland. 2022. Sales Summaries, 2022 January Horses of All Ages Sale. Link
  29. Data Paddock, American Horse Council. 2016. Annual cost of owning a horse in the US, 2003 versus 2016, AHC. Link
  30. The original cost of owning a recreational horse was $12,948 (29) in 2016. The inflation-adjusted cost of owning a recreational horse in December 2021 was $7,896.31. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator. Link
  31. Arabian Horse Association. 2022. What is the Cost of Providing for Them? Link
  32. Swingin’ D Horse Rescue. 2022. Horses are Expensive! Link
  33. The original annual spend was $7,200 (4) in 2002. The inflation-adjusted annual spend in December 2021 was $11,334.69. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator. Link

FAQ

How much does a horse cost?

The average price of a riding horse in the U.S. is $3,444. 

How much does it cost to own a horse?

The annual ownership cost of a recreational horse in the U.S. is $7,896.

How much does a horse cost per month?

The average monthly ownership cost of a recreational horse in the U.S. is $658.

How much does a horse cost per year?

The annual ownership cost of a recreational horse in the U.S. is $7,896.

How many horses are in the U.S.?

Approximately 7.25 million horses live in the United States.

Which state has the most horses?

Texas has the highest horse population per state. Texas has 767,100 horses.

How many horse owners are in the U.S.?

Approximately 1.6 million households in the U.S. own horses.

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