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Pennsylvania is a Top Ten Horse State

Jul 05, 2018 • by Penn State Extension
Horses Grazing.

The results of the American Horse Council 2017 survey are now available, and include information on the number of horses, economic impact, and other equine data in the U.S. and in Pennsylvania.The American Horse Council (AHC) recently released the results of its 2017 national equine survey (key points of the national survey can be found on the AHC website. In addition, several states (including Pennsylvania, thanks to a significant financial input by the Pennsylvania Equine Council) received data specific to their states. So, what does the horse industry look like in Pennsylvania?

We like horses, and we have a lot of them!

The total horse population of Pennsylvania is estimated to be 223,628, making Pennsylvania 8th in the nation for number of horses (there are a total of 7.2 million horses in the United States). The most popular breed of horse is the Quarter Horse (~40,000), followed by the Thoroughbred (~29,000) and the Standardbred (~22,000). Quarter Horses tend to be used more in the competition and recreation sectors, while Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds have a larger presence in the racing sector. Approximately 793,000 acres of PA land are used for horse-related purposes.Approximately 30.5% of households, or 1.6 million, in PA have horse enthusiasts. Participants in horse events tend to be younger, with minors comprising 38% of horse participants. Horse ownership tends to be skewed towards older age-groups. This is great as it indicates that a lot of families are involved in the horse industry.There are 23 equine rescues/sanctuaries in Pennsylvania; nationwide, there are approximately 602 equine rescues/sanctuaries. We have 62 facilities that offer equine-assisted therapy. There are four colleges and universities that have equine-related programs and degrees in Pennsylvania.

The horse industry is important to the PA economy.

Pennsylvania ranks 6th in the US in terms of economic support by the horse industry, which was calculated by looking at horse owner expenditure and racetrack revenue. The Pennsylvania horse industry directly contributes $1.7 billion and 43,114 jobs to the state’s economy. When indirect and induced effects are added to direct effects, the horse industry in Pennsylvania contributes a total of $3.3 billion to the state’s economy and has a total employment impact of 60,133 jobs.For those that are not well versed in economic terms, direct effects include economic activity within the horse industry (such as people employed at a racetrack, or the money spent by a horse owner buying feed). Indirect effects are the effects of the direct expenditures on other business sectors (such as the farmers that grow hay). And finally, induced effects are the impacts that result from the spending of labor income (such as a racetrack employee using their income to purchase personal goods).The horse industry in Pennsylvania can be divided into the recreation, competition, and racing sectors. Recreation is the largest sector, with more than 10% of PA households participating in trail riding and 8.4% of PA households taking lessons.The recreation sector adds $329 million directly to the economy and supports 8,450 direct jobs. The competition sector adds $279 million directly to the economy and supports 7,640 direct jobs. The racing sector adds $314 million directly to the economy and supports 3,778 direct jobs. There are six tracks in Pennsylvania; three for Thoroughbred racing (Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Parx Casino and Racing, and Presque Isle Downs and Casino) and three for Standardbred racing (Harrah’s Philadelphia Racetrack, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, and The Meadows Racetrack and Casino).

Take-home message

Overall, the results of the 2017 economic survey show promise for the equine industry. While there may be fewer horses in the nation as compared to 2007, in Pennsylvania the equine industry is stronger than ever. And with many youth involved in the equine industry, the industry seems primed to continue to grow.

Funding for this survey was made possible through the Pennsylvania Equine Council (PEC). Without their generous support, this survey would not have been possible. If you would like more information on the results of the national and/or the Pennsylvania surveys, both can be purchased at the American Horse Council website.

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