Economic Impact of the Horse Industry in the United States

You might check with your accountant to see if you qualify for Section 179 IRS tax breaks as a horse owner.

Below is a list of how powerful the horse industry's economics is and it's effect on the U.S. economy.
Information  updated 5/19/10
Economic Impact of the Horse Industry in the United States:


The horse industry is a very large and important part of our national, state and local economies.
It is diverse, involving agriculture, business, sport, gaming, entertainment and recreation.
Deloitte Consulting LLP conducted a study in 2005 for the American Horse Council Foundation
to determine the economic impact of the equine industry.
The study concluded that the horse industry is highly diverse, national, serious and economically significant,
and deserves the attention of the general public, media, and federal, state and local officials.

Numbers of Horses

The study found that there are 9.2 million horses in the United States, including horses used for
racing, showing, competition, sport, breeding, recreation and work.
This includes horses used both commercially and for pleasure.
Specifically, the number of horses broken down by activity is:

Racing 844,531
Showing 2,718,954
Recreation 3,906,923
Other 1,752,439 (farm/ranch work, rodeo, carriage horses, polo, police work, informal competitions, etc)
Total 9,222,847


4.6 million people are involved in the horse industry in some way-either as owners, employees, service providers or volunteers.
This includes 2 million horse owners, of which 238,000 are involved in breeding, 481,000 in competing,
119,000 are service providers, 1.1 million are involved in other activities, and 702,000 are employees.
Another 2 million are family members and volunteers.
That means that 1 out of every 63 Americans is involved with horses.

The Size and Impact of the Industry

Gross Domestic Product:

The study documents the economic impact of the industry in terms of jobs and contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The study's results show that the industry directly produces goods and services of $38.8 billion
and has a total impact of $101.5 billion on the United States' GDP.
It is particularly strong in racing, showing and recreation, with each contributing
between $10.5 and $12 billion to the total value of goods and services produced by the industry.
Specifically, the GDP effect from each (in billions of dollars) is:

Direct Total

Racing $10.6 $26.1
Showing 10.8 28.7
Recreation 11.8 31.9
Other 5.5 14.6
Total $38.8 $101.58 


The industry employs 701,946 people directly.
However, some are part-time or seasonal employees, so this equates to 453,612 fulltime equivalent (FTE) jobs.  
The industry supports a total of over 1.4 million FTE jobs across the U.S. as follows:

Direct Total

Racing 146,625 383,826
Showing 99,051 380,416
Recreation 128,324 435,082
Other 79,612 212,010
Total 453,612 1,411,333


The industry pays a total of $1.9 billion in taxes to federal, state and local governments as follows (in millions of dollars):

Federal $588
State $1,017
Local $275

The Diversity of the Industry

The study shows that the horse business is a highly diverse industry
that supports a wide variety of activities in all regions of the country.
It combines primarily rural activities of breeding, training, maintaining and riding horses
with the more urban activities of operating racetracks, off-track betting parlors, horse shows and public sales.

Income Levels

The misperception that the horse industry is an activity only for wealthy individuals is thoroughly dispelled by this study.
 In fact, the study shows that the horse industry is diverse and has many stakeholders,
including recreational and show horse riders, and moderate-income track, show and stable employees and volunteers.
Almost half of all horse owners (46%) have an income between $25,000 and $75,000.
Approximately 34% of horse owners have a household income of less than $50,000,
compared to 28% with an annual income of over $100,000. 

Community Size

Over 70% of horse owners live in communities of 50,000 or less.

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