Future looking bright for US horse industry – survey

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The US equine industry is showing signs of recovery from the 2008 recession.
The US equine industry is showing signs of recovery from the 2008 recession.

A survey of more than 10,000 US horse owners appears to indicate recovery from the economic downturn of 2008.

The results of the survey, by American Horse Publications (AHP) and sponsored by Zoetis, showed 70.6% of respondents owned or managed the same number of horses they did in 2014, suggesting a continued increase in overall industry stability.

In addition, 20.7% of respondents expect to own or manage more horses in 2016, while 11.4% expect to own fewer horses. In the 2012 survey, only 18.7% said they expected to own or manage more horses the following year, and 14.7% expected to have fewer.

The survey, conducted online for the third time, included responses from some 10,662 horse owners.

Other key points included:

  • For 2016, 88.6% of respondents expect to own or manage the same number of horses or more horses.
  • This year, 93% of respondents plan to enter the same or more competitions than last year, and 95.1% expect to compete in the same or more events in 2016.
  • A high number of respondents (84.7%) rely on their veterinarians for vaccination advice, and respondents are increasingly relying on veterinarians for deworming advice.

The data was analysed by Jill Stowe, Ph.D, associate professor of agricultural economics at the University of Kentucky.

She said: “It appears the industry is beginning to recover from the Great Recession of 2008, as indicated by the percentage of respondents participating in the industry, either through owning/managing horses or competing with them, at the same or greater levels than three years ago.”

Looking at horse ownership by age, the future appears bright for the equine industry, with 22.1% of respondents aged 18 to 24 reporting they own or manage more horses in 2015 than they did in 2014, while only 7.6% of respondents age 65 or over reported owning or managing more horses. This pattern is consistent with expectations of horse ownership in 2016, as 36.2% of respondents ages 18 to 24 said they expect to own or manage more horses than they did this year.

Additionally, there appears to be stability in the number of competitions respondents expect to attend this year and next year. Similar to the 2012 survey, most of the increase in competitions is among younger age groups.

The survey was conducted from January 6 through April 1, 2015. It sought to gauge participation trends and management practices in the US equine industry, to identify critical issues facing the equine industry as perceived by those who own or manage horses, and to better understand issues pertaining to horse health and nutrition.

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