What Do We Do With All Those Horses
 By Winniefield Park   •   14th Jun 2016   •   1,437 views   •   1 comments
What Do We Do With All Those Horses

A while back, we took a look at statistics of horses and humans per country. There are a few countries where there are a very small number of horses, and they do not significantly contribute to the country’s lifestyle or economics. In many countries however, horses do make a sizeable contribution in one way or another. For example, there are thought to be about 9.2 million horses in the United States according to a 2003 study commissioned by the American Horse Council Foundation.

That sounds like a lot of horses, but consider that before cars, trucks, tractors and other modes of mechanical transport became normal, the population was much higher. According to The Demographics of the U.S. Equine Population by Emily R. Kilby, the horse population peaked in 1915 at 26,493,000. While some horses would have been kept as ‘pleasure horses’ the majority would have had jobs pulling freight and farm implements, buggies and otherwise providing power that is now done by motors and engines.

Related: Horses By the Numbers

Even so, 9.2 million horses in United States, about 963,500 (2010) in Canada and over 600,000 horses in the UK is still a lot of horses. What, if anything, are we doing with them? A few horses in these and other first world countries still work. However, the work they do is an option that their owners or handlers choose - not a necessity. A hobby farm operator could easily pull his plough or sledge carrying barrels of maple sap with a tractor instead of a horse. Logging can be done with machinery too. Tourist rides of all kinds are entertainment, not necessity. And the number of horses that are used this way is relatively small.

The horse industry, despite the shrinking number of horses in the U.S. contributes over 112.1 billions dollars to the economy with employment for 7 million Americans. By far, the horse sport that has the greatest impact on the economy is horse racing. In the U.K. the only sport that attracts more fans than horse racing is football (soccer). In Canada, horses used for racing represent about 5% of the total horse population. But, the total annual economic contribution from the Canadian horse racing industry is $5.7 billion and 47,000 full‐time equivalent jobs (some jobs are seasonal or part-time). According to the B.H.S, horse competitions, including racing in 2012 accounted for four of the ten highest attended sporting events, excluding the London Olympics.

A 2002 USEF study shows that after racing, showing is the most popular equestrian activity. And of the show disciplines hunter/jumper comes out on top. Dressage is the third most popular equestrian sport, followed a bit more distantly by eventing. Between dressage and eventing is a lump the study calls “undeclared”. Western, reining and long distance endurance come further down the list, along with several breed specific statistics. Breed specific showing is also within the top ten of this list.

As to who is riding, driving and working with horses, the vast majority are women. Equestrianism ranks as the 25th in the top thirty sports in Canada. Of the about 69,000 participants it’s estimated that 63,000 are women. Which is something that is obvious at each horse event we attend, no matter what the discipline or sport.

-- Racing Report PDF Demographic PDF
Horse News Related:  Horses By the Numbers,
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Here in New Zealand, and also in Australia, there are actually popular movements to rehome OTTBs. New Zealand has a competition called Beyond the Barriers where trainers get a horse fresh off the track and have a few months to train it for a new discipline and compete at Equidays.

OTTBs are very popular with eventers, show jumpers, sporthorse breeders and hunters. While it's true, and very sad, that racehorses do get sent to slaughter - so do a lot of unwanted ponies and horses, especially old, injured or feral ones. We do what we can with the money, time and space we have and there are a lot of happy ex-racehorses out there.
  Jun 16, 2016  •  1,458 views
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