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Our Equo Blog

The Horse Industry by the Numbers

16 Jan 2017

Getting quick and clear answers to the question ‘how many horses are there in the US?’ is not as easy as you would think it is. The US Department of Agriculture conducts a census every 5 years through their National Agricultural Statistics Service division, the results from their research are limited but they are the most reliable source.

 The horse industry supports various activities and is clearly divided in the rural segment (breeding, training, maintaining and riding horses) and urban activities (horse racing, horse shows and public sales). The two segments combined represent the largest part of the equine population in the country with micro farms, police departments, travelling circuses, petting zoos and other smaller groups accounting for the rest.

how many horses in America

So, How Many Horses are There in America?

The current estimate according to a recent study commissioned by the American Horse Council Foundation and conducted by the Barents Group is 9.2 million, this includes both recreational and commercial horses. Out of the grand total 3.91M are used for recreational purposes, 2.72M for showing, 1.75M for other activities including farm work, rodeo, polo, police work etc. and 840K are used for racing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Veterinary Associations have very different figures but widely agree that their research method was extremely limited.


  • American Quarter Horse: 3.10M
  • Thoroughbred: 1.29M
  • Other: 4.64M

 New Breed Registries for 2014 According to the AAEP

  • Quarter Horse: 263,528
  • Paint: 50,211
  • Arabian: 22,433
  • Standardbred: 17,500
  • Appaloosa: 12,096
  • Tennessee Walking: 5,912
  • Miniature Horse: 5,028
  • Morgan Horse: 6,032
  • Pinto: 7,200
  • Saddlebred: 6,562
  • Paso Fino: 3,264



  • Texas: 1,000,000
  • California: 700,000
  • Florida: 500,000
  • Oklahoma: 326,000
  • Kentucky: 320,000
  • Ohio: 307,000
  • Missouri: 281,000
  • North Carolina: 256,000
  • Colorado: 256,000
  • Pennsylvania: 256,000


 There is an estimated 2 million horse owners in the United States and a total of 7.1 million Americans are involved in the industry as owners, service providers, employees and volunteers.


  • Gender: mostly females
  • Age Range: 38 – 45
  • Employment Status: employed
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Urban or Rural: Rural

Percentage of Owners by Household Income:

  • *Median income: $60,000
  • <$25,000:14%
    <$50,000: 38%
  • <$75,000: 64%
  • >$75,000: 36%

Owner Activities:

  • Recreational Rider: 85%
  • Competitive Rider: 30%
  • Horse Breeding: 11%
  • Horse Facility Manager: 10%
  • Grooming and Exercising: 9%
  • Professional Trainers: 7%
  • Racehorse Owner: 2%



The horse industry impacts the American economy in greater measure than motion picture services, railroad transportation, furniture and fixture manufacturing and cigarettes. The industry employs more than 700 thousand people directly. 450 thousand of these positions are full-time equivalent jobs, the rest are part-time and seasonal.

  • Total Impact on GDP: $101.5B
  • Goods and Services Sold per Year: $38.8B

GDP Effect by Activity:

  • Racing: $10.6B
  • Showing: $10.8B
  • Recreation: $11.8B
  • Other: $11.8B
  • TOTAL: $38.8B


The industry pays a total of $1.9 billion in taxes to federal, state and local governments

  • Federal - $588
  • State - $1,017
  • Local - $275