Equine Study Reveals Challenges Ahead

Published: August 29, 2011 12:17 pm EDT

Equine Canada has released its 2010 Canadian Equine Industry Profile Study -- the State of the Industry -- with demographic and economic information revealing that Canada’s equine industry faces some challenges in the future although it plays a significant role in the country’s overall economic health


The 2010 study reports on statistical data derived from the largest equine industry participant survey sample ever completed in Canada.

"This is the broadest and the deepest analysis of the state of Canada's equine nation our sector has ever produced," stated Akaash Maharaj, Chief Executive Officer of Equine Canada. "Our report confirms the enormous -- but too often underestimated -- contribution made by Canadian equestrians to our country's economy and quality of life. It also empowers us with the fact base we need to work with the government of Canada to improve our country's public policy framework for Canadian equestrians: to uphold higher standards of horse welfare, to expand the Canadian equine industry domestically and internationally and to better serve the hundreds of thousands of Canadian horse people from coast to coast to coast."

Although statistics indicate the industry faces some significant challenges ahead, including an economic climate that is driving horse-keeping costs up (a jump of 70 per cent since 2003) and lowering sale prices for horses (down 49 per cent from 2008/09), they also show the industry is robust and significant, contributing more than $19 billion annually to the Canadian economy and supporting more than 154,000 jobs in Canada -- one full-time job for every 6.25 horses.

The report estimates there were 963,500 horses in Canada in the summer 2010, living on 145,000 properties, and that 855,000 people were active in the horse industry last year. Statistics indicate that while there are 79,000 more horse-owner households in 2010 compared to 2003, entry-level participation in the industry is down by approximately 50 per cent. The study also shows that expansion in horse ownership in the past decade has been driven by increased participation from the baby-boomer generation and that the pool of horse owners is an aging demographic, with 24 per cent of horse owners in the 60+ age group. A key priority for long-term industry sustainability and growth will be attracting new participation and revitalizing the customer base.

The 2010 national profile study, the third of its kind, was based on a template first developed for a national study in 1998, and repeated in 2003. Therefore the 2010 study report is able to provide an analysis of trends in the industry from 1998 through to 2010. In compiling the 2010 data, a total of 2,566 interviews were completed with adult participants in all 10 provinces, the Yukon Territories and the Northwest Territories. The statistics collected directly represent 2,566 adult riders/drivers or horse care-givers, and indirectly represent an additional 4,296 Canadians who ride or drive and are resident in the households of those surveyed.

In addition to informing equine industry business strategies and supporting industry presentations to government, the 2010 study will provide key data in the creation of a national traceability program for horses in Canada. The federal government is aiming to have the program fully operational by 2013 as part of a national traceability system for all livestock, the purpose of which will be to assist governments and industry in limiting the economic effect of animal health, plant health, food safety and other emergencies and to proactively gain access to foreign markets requiring traceability.

“It is important the horse industry’s unique needs, practices and business challenges are taken into account during the development phase of the equine traceability program and the information provided in 2010 study report will be essential to the creation of an equine traceability program that works best for Canadian horse owners,” stated Maharaj.

The study was prepared by Strategic Equine, with funding provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Copies of the study are available for download on-line at www.equinecanada.ca. Printed copies can be purchased by contacting the offices of Equine Canada at 1-866-282-8395.

Chapter 8 of the 2010 Canadian Equine Industry Profile Study -- the State of the Industry, which provides an overall summary of the study, is available here.

(With files from Equine Canada)