Saundra TenBroeck, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida


Horse silloutte at sunset

Credit: Danette Philpot

The American Horse Council (AHC) is a national association representing every segment of the equine industry in Washington, DC. Every five years they conduct a National Economic Impact Study (EIS) to document the effects of all segments of the horse industry on the state and national economy. The last study was conducted in 2017 and major economic changes have occurred since then. In addition to the business closures and resulting federal stimulus programs related to the pandemic, there have been historic changes to the tax code.

Economic impact studies examine the effects an event or industry has on the economy and usually measures changes in business revenue, business profits, personal wages, and/or jobs. As a large, economically diverse industry, the United States horse industry contributes significantly to the American economy. Here are just a few of the many ways the AHC National Economic Impact Study is used:

  • Educate decision-makers/lawmakers on the economic impact of the equine industry nationally or locally
  • Identify trends, and project/forecast indicators when used in conjunction with previous studies
  • Pinpoint areas of growth in the industry to foster, and identify gaps that need attention
  • Assess the demographics of the industry (age, income levels, etc.)
  • Identify the monetary impacts the industry has on a community through tourism, jobs, etc.
  • Inform possible decisions regarding business development such as construction or renovation of venues and trails, and determine the viability of events
  • Provide context to arguments and cases for legal defense, adverse legislation or regulation, or development or expansion that may negatively impact the industry
  • Help fight for green space and public lands

This type of work is not inexpensive. The AHC Foundation (AHCF) raised $350K to cover the cost of the study. AHC and AHCF are not subsidized by the government, nor do they receive any funding through check-off programs like some other livestock groups. Thanks to investments made across our industry, the study is under way, and we can look forward to the results later this year. There is a link for FAQ’s regarding the 2023 EIS: ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY FAQ – American Horse Council

You may be aware of the USDA, National Agriculture Statistic Service census that is currently underway. Perhaps you have already participated. Though useful in estimating numbers of horses and acreage dedicated to horse businesses, this census only counts horses on working farms. It does not cover boarding, training, and riding facilities or other small businesses.

Although Florida ranks third in the nation in number of horses, we do not currently have a functioning State Horse Council. In the absence of that state organization, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association has stepped up and paid for a Florida breakout report ($20-35K).  Lobbying groups for the equine industry and industry leaders can arm themselves with this information as they do battle on behalf of all horse owners and allied industry partners.

Why should horse owners complete the EIS survey?

    1. The EIS determines where resources go — and don’t go.
      Policymakers use EIS data — both the total population count and population characteristics — to allocate their time and resources.  Ever been frustrated that you can’t get something done for the horse community? EIS can help make that case.
    1. The EIS impacts political pull.
      The government and industry rely on EIS data — more specifically, the total number of horses in each state to shape the political landscape within states by informing decisions on building and maintaining trails, and agriculture and equine facilities. EIS can help politicians understand their constituent’s influence.
    1. The EIS ensures we have a story to tell.
      To have a statistically valid sample, any given state will need at least 10,000 survey responses. Lack of valid responses will inhibit the ability to project horse populations and contributions – thus limiting your ability to use the data to influence resources in your community. Want to know the population and economic impact in say the state of Arizona or Connecticut? We want to know and think you do too, but we didn’t have enough people respond to the 2017 survey to come up with those figures.
    1. The EIS drives products and services.
      Many manufacturers and service providers use the EIS to gauge the market and drive product development and business potential. Want a new feed store or tack store in your area? EIS can drive business growth.
    1. The EIS helps communities plan for the future.
      Communities — city planners, businesses, real estate developers, and policymakers — review EIS data to better understand the needs of local residents and neighborhoods. Leaders then use this information to plot how and where their communities must evolve. The resulting changes are wide-ranging. Flawed EIS data, on the other hand, can have real and lasting consequences.
    1. The EIS informs other research efforts.
      A number of federal surveys rely on EIS data. These include the USDA, AAEP, AVMA, and so on….

Please return the survey when/if you receive one in the mail in the coming months!

2017 Economic Impact Study of the U.S. Horse IndustrySummary by the