33 Amazing Horse Riding Statistics

Horses are one of the most popular animals to own in the world today. Some stables train horses for racing. Others own horses for riding. Sometimes people just own horses because they love them.

There are 9.2 million horses in the United States alone according to information provided by The Equestrian Channel.

These horse riding statistics also show that there are 4.6 million Americans who are actively involved in the industry in some way. Owners, service providers, employees, and volunteers are all counted in that number. The average US owner actually owns 4-5 horses and this creates a direct economic impact of nearly $40 billion every year. 

Who Owns a Horse Today?

  • 34% of horse owners earn less than $50,000 per year as a household. Only 1 in 4 horse owners actually earn more than $100,000 in income every year. Just 13% report a household income that is above $150,000.
  • 1 million horse owners in the United States earns between $25,000-$75,000 every year.
  • There are horses owned in every state in the US. There are 45 states that have at least 20,000 horses that have been registered.
  • The most popular reason to own a horse is for recreational purposes. More than 2.7 million horses in the US are owned for showing purposes. About 850,000 horses are dedicated to the racing industry, while another 1.7 million horses are used for farming, ranching, or sporting events.
  • Most horse owners live in or around rural communities. Over 70% of owners live in or near a community of less than 50,000 residents.
  • In the coming year, 88% of horse owners expect to own or manage at least the same amount of horses that they have this year.
  • The average horse hour spends about 22 hours per week with their horses. This includes about 1 hour of riding time every day.
  • The average horse owner is a married woman, on the older side of the 35-54 age demographic, and has children. They tend to listen to country music more often, prefer outdoor activities to indoor activities, and will usually own cats and dogs as well.
  • 12% of horse owners have 10+ horses in their stable. 14% of owners have just one horse that they call their own.
  • 67% of horse owners keep their horses on their own property.
  • Horse owners will typically spend a minimum of 5 hours per week reading horse publications and internet content.
  • 3% of horse owners say that they are leasing a horse instead of owning it outright.
  • 10% of horse owners are actively involved in the horse industry for some way. 
  • 70% of horse owners are looking for ways to cut the costs of the maintenance needs of their herd. This is due to increased household costs, higher hay costs, and other socioeconomic factors.

It takes space to own a horse, especially if you are going to keep it on your own property. A general rule of thumb is that you need at least 2 acres of land in order to start owning a horse. Once you can meet that requirement, the best ratio of space to horse is 1 horse for every acre of land. That means to own two horses, you should have 3 acres of land.

If you don’t have that kind of space, then you can rent out room with someone who does. Stables are available in many areas where a horse can live, though monthly maintenance costs can be quite high. It may be more than $500 per month to board a horse and that doesn’t include feeding, cleaning, or grooming. 

Who Rides Horses Today?

  • In the past 12 months, the British Equestrian Trade Association estimates that 3.5 million people have ridden a horse at least once in the past 12 months.
  • About 15 million people around the world will ride a horse at least once in the next 12 months.
  • Around 8% of those who ride horses considered themselves to be disabled in some way.
  • 3 out of 4 horse riders are women. The number of male riders has been increasing over the past decade, but still fall far below the number of women who ride horses.
  • 46% of the people who ride a horse at least once per week say that they’d ride even more if they had access to safe off-road riding.
  • 70% of horse owners, according to an AHP Equine Industry Survey, currently own the same number of horses that they did last year.
  • Two out of three horse owners consider their horses to be family members. Another common description for horses is as a companion animal.
  • 56% of horse owners view their horse as their best friend.
  • 60% of horse owners say that they ride their horses just for fun. Another 35% say that they are competitive riders in some way.
  • 44% of those who own horses hire someone else to train them with riding lessons. Another one-third of owners will pay a trainer to handle the daily activities of caring for their horse.
  • 3 out of 4 people who ride their horses on a regular basis do trial riding on a regular basis.
  • 1 in 4 people who enjoy riding horses also use their horses for dressage. 

Horses might be a girl’s best friend, but they are increasingly being ridden by men and serving in other ways. Experiential learning and therapy centers have found that riding horses can be extremely therapeutic. As we continue to learn new facts about what it means to ride a horse, we’re finding that they can provide stress relief, pain relief, and many other physical and emotional benefits.

And you don’t even need to own a horse in order to benefit from the experience. Is it any wonder why there are 15 million people who will ride a horse this year? 

How Dangerous Is It to Own a Horse?

  • According to research conducted by ABC News, riding horses was the leading cause of sports-related traumatic brain injuries that occurred between 2003-2012. Over 45% of the TBIs documented were directly related to equestrian sports.
  • There is about 1 accident that occurs for every 2,000 hours of riding a horse. 
  • For children, riding horses is the third-most common reason that a TBI occurs, with 427 injuries documented. It ranks behind falling or getting hit in contact sports [1,444 total incidents] and skateboarding [806 total incidents].
  • In the UK, there were 8 deaths recorded on roads that came from horse riding incidents. This is from data collected in 2011. During that same year, there were 107 bicyclist deaths and 362 motorcyclist deaths. Only 1 death occurred during competition in the previous year. 
  • For every death that is related in some way to horse riding, there are 7-8 serious injuries which occur that may cause long-term health issues from a TBI, paralysis, or other injury.
  • Most injuries from horse riding do not require hospitalization, but there is the potential of a horse rising injury causing long-term concerns with memory, joint paint, or other disability.
  • About 20% of the horse riding injuries that are treated in a hospital setting involve an injury to the head. Protective riding hats are believed to have significantly reduced the number of injuries recorded from horse riding, however, since its initial introduction nearly three decades ago.
  • Just 6% of horseback riders will be hospitalized because of an injury. Out of those who are hospitalized, 1 out of every 4 of them will have already been injured in a previous accident at least once within the previous 24 months.

Every year, there are stories of horse riding where an unexpected death or serious injury has occurred. The danger in horse riding, however, is somewhat difficult to quantify. Some will compare horse riding to using heroin or riding motorcycle without a helmet. That really isn’t a fair comparison because the horse riding statistics tell a different story.

But that doesn’t excuse a rider from ignoring common sense precautions. Always wear a helmet if you intend to ride a horse. Know what commands the horse understands so you can give it direction. Avoid being around the kicking zone of a horse, even if the animal is being turned out, to prevent unnecessary injuries as well.

How Can You Apply These Horse Riding Statistics?

More than 60% of horse owners are concerned about unwanted horses and what to do with them. One of the options is to find that unwanted horse a new home. When you know what it is like to ride a horse, it prepares you to be able to own a horse.

And these horse riding statistics show that it can be a lot of fun to own a horse. It can also be quite dangerous to ride a horse. By understanding these animals, being patient, and remaining confident, every ride can be an enjoyable experience so that you don’t become part of statistics like these.