This industry should never get off its high horse

The equine economy generated $177B worth of activity in the US last year.


approx cost to breed a horse

You could have 500m guesses at what this breathless website copy is plugging and you would not get it.

The words accompany the release of the American Horse Council’s 2023 Equine Economic Impact Survey, which, as advertised, is “FINALLY HERE!”

Turns out, its super-excitable promo copy was actually quite merited:

  • The equine industry added $177B to the US economy last year, up from $122 billion in 2017.
  • It was responsible for ~2.2m jobs — not just the expected ones like trainers, vets, and farriers, but also truck drivers, nutritionists, chemists, and journalists.

A colt following

Horse enthusiasts sit at the core of the industry — they love their horses and they’ll spend wildly to acquire, care for, and pamper their galloping guys and gals.

  • Analysis from The Horse magazine found its horse-owning respondents averaging $1.6k on monthly upkeep costs.
  • Such figures skyrocket when maintaining horses for competitive purposes — say, racing or dressage — with some riders reportedly paying as much as $7.9k per month.

Of course, simply acquiring high-end horses is its own major expense: The 49 horses sold at last fall’s PSI Auction in Germany went for a combined $21.6m (or, a pricey ~$440.8k per horse average).

Bridled enthusiasm

Not everything is rosy in the horse business, of course:

  • The total US horse population is in slight decline, with 6.6m in 2023, compared to 7.2m in 2017.
  • Despite national doping and safety reforms, the racing industry remains in disarray — 624+ horses died on tracks in 2023, and 45 racetracks have closed since 2000. (Still, Americans placed $11.66B in bets last year.)

Also: “Horse’s ass,” “Screw you and the horse you rode in on,” and “Beating a dead horse.” The English lexicon is just plain rude to horses.

That’s a strange way to thank them for their multibillion-dollar contribution to society.

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