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Economic impact of the horse industry

Quick facts

  • The total economic impact of the horse industry in the United States is $122 billion, creating 1.7 million jobs.
  • About 31 percent of United States households contain a horse enthusiast.
  • Minnesota ranks 18th for the state with the greatest horse population.
  • The horse industry contributes $1 billion and over 15,000 jobs to the Minnesota economy.

In 2017, the American Horse Council evaluated the economic impact of the horse industry in the United States. They further looked at the economic impact in individual states including Minnesota, which was made possible through support from the Minnesota Horse Council. This article summarizes the findings of the American Horse Council's economic report. 

Horse populations

The United States is home to over 7.2 million horses. Of those horses, about 145,727 reside in Minnesota, which ranks 18th in the nation for the largest horse population. The leading states for horse populations include:

  • Texas: 767,100 horses
  • California: 534,500 horses
  • Florida: 387,300 horses

Populations by breed 

The two most popular breeds in the U.S., as well as Minnesota, are the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred. Household surveys of about 7.1 million horses in the United States indicated about 2.1 million were Quarter Horses and 1.1 million were Thoroughbreds. Similarly, household surveys of 143,000 horses in Minnesota indicated 41,000 were Quarter Horses and 20,000 were Thoroughbreds.

Household surveys didn't include horses within organizations or Amish communities.

Individual involvement 

While 30.5 percent of U.S. households have a horse enthusiast, only 1.3 percent own a horse. The other 29 percent includes individuals that either participate in horse activities or are spectators at horse events.

In Minnesota, about 680,000 households have horse enthusiasts, where about 29,000 own a horse. Many Minnesota horse owners take lessons (17 percent), manage barns (17 percent) and train horses (15 percent). Up to 14,000 Minnesota residents volunteer their time towards horse-related activities.

Economic impacts

United States

The U.S. horse industry directly contributes $50 billion to the economy and provides about 988,000 jobs. Direct contribution refers to economic activity occurring within the horse industry itself, such as horse care or recreation. However, these direct economic activities also prompt additional economic activity outside the horse industry. As a result, the total economic impact of the horse industry in the U.S. is $122 billion and 1.7 million jobs.

Minnesota

The horse industry also contributes largely to Minnesota’s economy.

  • The direct economic impact of the horse industry in Minnesota is $541 million with a creation of 15,113 jobs.
  • The total economic impact of the horse industry in Minnesota is $1 billion with a creation of 21,039 jobs. 
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For more information

The full reports for the horse industry’s economic impact in the U.S. and Minnesota may be purchased from the American Horse Council.

Hannah Lochner, Extension livestock communications specialist

Reviewed in 2019

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