It has long been known that Kentucky is the horse capitol of the world. It was known, but never proved. For the majority of last year the Kentucky field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, with support and assistance from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and the Kentucky Horse Council, have set out to prove exactly how much the equine industry was worth in Kentucky. And the results are quite staggering.

They took an inventory of all the equine service properties in the area and found that 56 percent were farms or ranches and 30 percent were for personal use, while 3 percent were boarding, training or riding facilities. Breeding operations accounted for 2 percent. These figures would indicate that the majority of equine operations were industrial in nature and supported livelihoods. It also shows that there are all kinds of equine operations alive and kicking in Kentucky, from working farms to retired teachers who had just taken up riding.

There was also found to be a huge spread of equine animals. The vast majority of horses inventoried were light horses (216,300), followed by donkeys and mules (14,000), ponies (7,000) and draft horses (5,100). Thoroughbreds are the most prevalent breed in the state (54,000), followed by Quarter Horses (42,000), Tennessee Walking Horses (36,000), Saddlebreds (14,000), donkeys, mules and burros, Mountain Horse breeds (12,500) and Standardbreds (9,500). This really underscored the prominence as Kentucky being THE horse capitol of the world. This is only proved further by the value of these animals.

According to the study, the estimated value of the 242,400 equines in Kentucky is about $6.3 billion. In addition, the estimated value of equine-related assets, including land and buildings, vehicles and equipment, feed and supplies and tack and equestrian clothing, is $17.1 billion, bringing the total value of Kentucky’s equine and equine-related assets to $23.4 billion.

The total of all equine-related sales and income for equine operations in 2011 was about $1.1 billion. There’s lots of figures in this study and the numbers are huge, but it goes to show how equine operations can add massive value to Kentucky’s economy. It can also show the Equine industry can add to huge economic benefits to an area, and, even though this study was a snap shot of five months in 2012, provide some recession proofing in an uncertain economy.

This study was commissioned to provide a bench mark for the policies regarding equine concerns, but also to value the industry and understand exactly how much it is worth to the state’s economy. These will become important figures in the future of the horse capitol of the world.

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