Quarter horse breeding continues apace

March 1, 2009

The number of new quarter horse registrations in North America dropped by 30,000 horses last year from 2005 figures, but the breed still accounts for more foals on the ground than all other breeds recorded by the US Jockey Club put together.

The Jockey Club's figures, released this week in the organisation's Fact Book, shows that 135,924 quarter horse foals were registered in 2008. This is a drop from the 2005 figures of 165,057, the highest noted in the factbook since the 1960s. The figures show quarter horse registrations decreasing 6.9% since 2000.

The American Quarter Horse Association has received criticism in recent years for its registrtation policies which welfare groups say fuel the slaughter industry, which exports horse meat to Europe.

The second most prolific breed was the thoroughbred, with an estimated 36,600 registrations on the ground in 2008. This represents a drop of about 1500 foals from the 2005 figure of 38,191.

Registrations of paint horses, which nearly quadrupled between 1990 and 2000, have since declined 52.8% through 2008, with 29,534 registrations, down from 42,557 in 2005. The breed is a derivative of the quarter horse.

Appaloosa and arabian registrations fell 46.6% and 36.6%, respectively.

Other breeds shown in the Jockey Club's figures include miniatures, morgans, paso fino, saddlebreds, and standardbreds.

The Jockey Club Fact Book is published annually as a statistical and informational guide to the North American Thoroughbred industry; the 19th edition of the printed version will be published and distributed in early May.

Pari-mutuel handle on thoroughbred racing in North America declined 7.2% to $14,331,781,748 in 2008, as the worsening economy and continued discord concerning rights fees for advance deposit wagering contributed to the decrease. A more modest decline of 1.3% in North American gross purses to $1,310,838,852 is indicative of the positive impact of alternative gaming recently implemented at racetracks in several states. Pennsylvania, for example, offered nearly $34 million more in purse money in 2008 than in 2007.

In the sales section, total auction receipts in 2008 fell 21.2% to $972,889,922 as turmoil in credit and equity markets in the fall particularly affected gross sales of broodmares and weanlings, which were down 40.1% and 34.1%, respectively.

In the breeding section, the decline in mares bred in recent years is expected to result in moderate decreases in the annual registered thoroughbred foal crop in 2008 and 2009. Among the top 10 foal-producing states in 2007, New Mexico and Louisiana have more than doubled the size of their annual registered foal crop since 1997. Four others - Kentucky, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania - also experienced gains.

Breed Registration Figures

* Estimated figure
† Initial returns
Source: Individual Breed Registries