AHC documents economic impact of horse industry


Washington — The horse industry spends more than $2.3 billion on veterinary care and services each year, according to an American Horse Council Foundation (AHC) study released in June.

WASHINGTON — The horse industry spends more than $2.3 billion on veterinary care and services each year, according to an American Horse Council Foundation (AHC) study released in June.

Annual equine expenses

Each of the country's 9.2 million equines, on average, consumes $251 in veterinary care: That's $547 for racehorses (population: 844,531), $260 for show horses (2.72 million), $204 in care for recreational horses (3.9 million) and $198 for other horses.

According to the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, the average revenue per visit for a full-time equine practitioner is $310, and the average number of annual transactions for a full-time equine practitioner is 2,324.

The industry also spends more $4.6 billion on feed, bedding and grooming, and it spends more than $1 billion on medicine and vitamins.

Recreational and "other" horses total more than 5.6 million, compared to 3.6 million show horses and racehorses in the United States, which grants equine veterinarians significant opportunity to treat more hobby horses than competition animals.

"The showing and recreation is as large economically (as racehorses) — and larger in terms of the horses are involved," Hickey says. "The thing that surprises me is that how many people who are involved in the horse business who are not wealthy, depending on your definition of wealth."

About 46 percent of the respondents reported a gross annual income of $25,000 to $75,000; 9 percent earn $150,000 or more, and 10 percent earn less than $25,000. Four percent did not report income. Hickey says the demographics suggest that there is widespread opportunity for equine expenditures to trickle down to a myriad of industry participants, including veterinarians.

The report is a coup for lobbyists, legislators and industry participants who commonly discuss the horse industry with policy makers and the public alike, says David Foley, executive director of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, which helped fund the study along with American Quarter Horse Association, The Jockey Club, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup Limited, Keeneland Association, American Paint Horse Association, U.S. Trotting Association, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

"This study has the ability to impact legislation that can affect not only the equine practitioner, but the equine practitioner's clients and patients, too," Foley says.

About the study

The first study of its kind for a decade and the most comprehensive ever produced, The Economic Impact of the Horse Industry in the United States reveals that the combined horse industry contributes $39 billion in direct economic impact to the U.S. economy and supports 1.4 million full-time jobs, Hickey says.

"This is a document that puts in one place the scope of the horse industry," He says. "The horse industry is agriculture, sport, recreation, gambling, entertainment and exercise, and it's all built on breeding horses."

Indirect and induced spending related to the nation's 9.2-million horse population totals $102 billion in economic impact: $32 billion generated from recreation, $28.8 billion generated from the showing segment, and $26.1 billion from racing.

Forty-five states in the country claim a population of at least 20,000 horses. The most populated equine states are Texas (1 million), California (700,000) and Florida (500,000). There are about 2 million owners and 2 million volunteers that work in the industry.

Deloitte Consulting LLC conducted the study by polling 400,000 horse owners and other industry participants last year. The full report is available at www.horsecouncil.org.

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