Study: New Zealand's Sport Horse Industry worth $1 Billion Annually

Study: New Zealand's Sport Horse Industry worth $1 Billion Annually

Kiwi eventer Andrew Nicholson celebrates after completing the cross-country course at the 2010 World Equestrian Games on Nereo. The pair finished third overall.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

The sport horse industry in New Zealand is worth over $1 billion a year according to a University of Waikato student's study results.

University of Waikato, located in Hamilton, New Zealand, Masters of Business Administration student Alex Matheson completed what's believed to be the first investigation into the size and scope of the sport horse industry in that country. A graduate of the agricultural and horse-industry based Marcus Oldham College in Australia, Matheson decided to undertake the study after finding there was no information available on the collective economic impact of the industry.

Sport horses are defined as all horses that are not being used for racing or breeding horses for the purpose of racing.

"I wanted to get a better understanding of the sport horse industry in New Zealand," Matheson relayed. "The actual size of this sector of the industry is not widely known and before this has not been studied collectively."

He carried out an online survey of more than 150 participants, asking questions about everything from the grazing costs for their horses, transportation, veterinary bills, and more. This data was then compared to the Agribase Biosecurity database.

Of the estimated 80,000 sport horses in New Zealand, the average total annual spend per horse was $12,500, meaning the sport horse industry is worth over $1 billion (or 0.5% of New Zealand's annual gross domestic product).

Matheson's numbers do not include major capital purchases such as property, horses, saddler, and transport, but instead looks at the maintenance cost of horse ownership. He found that the three major costs of horse ownership were transportation expenses, feeding and housing, and the use of professional services such as veterinarians and farriers.

"There is no other sporting or recreational activity that requires an ongoing cost to maintain the key component of that pursuit," said Matheson. "Motor racing has a similar high level of financial input, however if you stop racing, you eliminate all expenses. This is not achievable with the sport horse industry.

"The impact of this study is that we can see what reach the sport horse industry has, over $1 billion a year, all of it staying within the country. This study is about getting the industry as a whole recognized."

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