AHP Equine Industry Survey Results Released

A total of 11,171 people who own, lease, or manage horses completed the American Horse Publications' Horse Industry Survey designed to gauge participation trends in the U.S. horse industry. This was the largest survey of hands-on owners and managers of horses in the United States ever conducted, and it was made possible by the sponsorship of Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health and Pfizer Animal Health.

The electronic survey gathered information regarding the most important issues facing the equine industry and garnered feedback from the participants about solutions to those problems.

The results showed a broad geographic distribution and involvement in the equine industry. American Horse Publications members, including magazines, newsletters, Web sites, Twitter and Facebook social media outreaches, and professional organizations, promoted the survey from Oct. 15, 2009, through Jan. 31, 2010. This is the first time the members of AHP have cooperated to bring such a broad representation to a single survey.

There were five main sections of the survey: demographics, horse ownership, horsekeeping costs, issues facing the equine industry, and horse health care.

The top survey participant demographics showed that 92% are horse owners who own an average of five horses apiece. Managers took care of an average of 10.4 horses. Less than one-half of one percent of respondents leased horses.

A key part of this survey was to gauge the past, present, and future involvement of the respondents in the horse industry. For example, respondents who own horses said they own approximately the same number of horses today as they did in 2007, and they anticipate owning the same number of horses in 2011.

The largest group of survey participants was between the ages of 35-44 (30.8%), followed by participants between the ages of 45-54 (25.4%). A total of 88.8% of the respondents were female.

C. Jill Stowe, PhD, an assistant professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky, provided consultation and data analysis services.

"This survey shows some good news: Even during current times with a struggling economy, a majority of respondents expect to be able to continue participating in the equine industry at the same level that they are now; some even expect to increase their levels of participation over the next few years," Stowe said. "Moreover, many horse handlers will make sacrifices in other areas of their lives to continue their involvement in the equine industry. But even though the majority of respondents will be able to continue their equine-related activities, this does not diminish the potential hardship faced by those individuals, organizations, and regions which expect to experience decreases in participation. Respondents are also clear that the welfare of the horse is of the utmost importance as individuals and policy makers make decisions regarding the future of the equine industry."

The survey was limited to men and women, 18 years of age and older, who currently own, manage, or lease at least one horse and live in the United States. This study was anonymous, meaning no one, not even members of the research team, are able to associate survey information with responses.

"We are thrilled with the response of our members and the industry in participating in this survey," said Kimberly S. Brown, current AHP president. "This was an important project for the American Horse Publications, and showed that through cooperation we can accomplish quite a bit in our industry," she continued. "We have been through a rough period in our economy, and there are many stories out there of unwanted horses and the decline of the horse industry. But I think the real story is the wanted horses and their owners who are still strong despite the economic downturn.

"I especially want to thank Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health and Pfizer Animal Health for sponsoring this survey," said Brown. "Both of these companies--and the people behind the companies--are supporters of the horse industry because of their love of the horse, not just because it's their business. And I want to thank Dr. Stowe for being willing to contribute her time and expertise to ensure we have a legitimate survey with accurate statistical analysis."

Specific survey findings will be available soon on TheHorse.com.

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