Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Horses are big business in Australia, especially horse racing. The popular sport contributes vast amounts of money to the country’s economy. Australia is home to significant numbers of horse farms and breeding operations that export horses around the world. Feral horses also make their home here and cause significant controversy over groups concerned with environmental protection.
If you’ve ever wondered about the Australian horse industry, you’ve come to the right place! Here are 10 Australian horse statistics that will give you an overview of these animals in this country.
Top 10 Australia Horse Statistics
- Nearly 4 million Australians place bets on horse races at least once per year.
- The thoroughbred breeding industry contributes over $1.16 billion annually to the Australian economy.
- The horse racing industry in Australia employs nearly 8,000 people.
- There are 3,320 horse farming businesses in Australia that employ 6,005 people.
- Australia has the second-largest thoroughbred breeding industry in the world, with over 660 stud farms across the country.
- Approximately 78% of Australians involved in breeding operations are over the age of 50.
- Last year, 1,681 horses were exported out of Australia, including mares with foals, racehorses, yearlings, and mature breeding stock.
- Australia has the world’s largest population of feral horses, numbering approximately 400,000.
- A draft plan was released by the Australian Government in November 2021 to cull up to 10,000 feral horses from Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales.
- Equestrian Australia issued 7,362 competition licenses and had 22,102 members in 2020-2021.
Australian Horse Racing Statistics
1. Nearly 4 million Australians place bets on horse races at least once per year.
Survey data shows that approximately 2 million Australians regularly gamble on horse and dog racing. Approximately 81% of these regular gamblers are men aged 30–64. Their typical monthly racing expenditures amount to an average of $1,300 each year. Some 400,000 of these individuals experience gambling-related problems over their lifetime.
2. The thoroughbred breeding industry contributes over $1.16 billion annually to the Australian economy.
Approximately 65% of this economic impact occurs in the province of New South Wales, where nearly 18,000 individuals participate as competitors, volunteers, or employees. Most breeding farms in Australia are dedicated to thoroughbreds. These horses are frequently shipped domestically and overseas for the purpose of racing.
3. The horse racing industry in Australia employs nearly 8,000 people.
Most people employed in horse racing live in rural areas. The breeding industry specifically sustains over 3,289 full-time employees.
Horse Farming Industry Statistics
4. There are 3,320 horse farming businesses in Australia that employ 6,005 people.
Operators of horse farms perform a variety of different activities, including sales and servicing, which account for the largest proportion of industry revenue. Thoroughbred, standardbred, and Arabian breeds are the most common. Thoroughbreds and standardbreds are primarily sold to trainers for the purpose of track racing and harness racing, while other breeds are sold to the public for recreational purposes.
5. Australia has the second-largest thoroughbred breeding industry in the world, with over 660 stud farms across the country.
Most stud farms are located in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland and supply both domestic and overseas markets. Approximately 76% of breeding operations have only one or two mares. More than half of the mares owned by breeding operations are owned by breeders with five or fewer horses.
6. Approximately 78% of Australians involved in breeding operations are over the age of 50.
This statistic indicates that younger generations are not taking over small farms and breeding operations, which could spell concern for the future of the industry. On the other hand, it may simply be a product of horse breeding operations shifting to a larger scale, while small-scale businesses fall by the wayside.
7. Last year, 1,681 horses were exported out of Australia, including mares with foals, racehorses, yearlings, and mature breeding stock.
Of these exported horses, 34% were exported solely for breeding purposes. Australian horse exports are responsible for generating $121.2 million worth of bloodstock for racing purposes.
Feral Horse Statistics
8. Australia has the world’s largest population of feral horses, numbering approximately 400,000.
(Invasive Species Council)
The high numbers of feral horses cause significant ecological damage to fragile ecosystems in the Australian Alps, which includes Alpine and Kosciuszko National Parks. Feral horse populations are established in at least 10 conservation areas in Australia.
9. A draft plan was released by the Australian Government in November 2021 to cull up to 10,000 feral horses from Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales.
This plan is designed to control the rapidly growing population of animals from Australia’s largest national park. Scientists welcome the idea of removing the feral horses but are concerned that it won’t be enough to stop overpopulation. The Australian Academy of Science continues to argue that the population needs to be reduced to under 3,000 individuals in order to stop the damage that they are doing to local vegetation.
Australia’s alpine environment, where the feral horse population primarily lives, covers only 1% of the continent but is home to many threatened and endemic species that aren’t found anywhere else in the world.
Equestrian Sports Statistics
10. Equestrian Australia issued 7,362 competition licenses and had 22,102 members in 2020-2021.
Competitions that are sanctioned by Equestrian Australia include dressage, eventing, jumping, showing, vaulting, driving, and endurance. It is also responsible for licensing over 920 coaches and 1,268 officials. Between 2020 and 2021, Equestrian Australia hosted 351 events, including training and participation days.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Australian Horse Industry
How many horses are there in Australia?
It is estimated that there are approximately 2 million domestic horses in Australia. These are owned by 400,000 horse owners spread throughout the country, a number that represents about 2% of the population. (ResearchGate)
How many horses have died in horse racing this year?
The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses reported 149 horse deaths on Australian racetracks between August 1, 2020, and July 31, 2021. This equates to one horse’s death every 2.5 days. The most common cause of death reported was a catastrophic injury to the horse’s front legs.
While the 2021 Melbourne Cup reported zero horse injuries, it is only the third year that this has occurred since 2013. As Australia’s most popular horse race, it is also purportedly the deadliest, with seven horses dying during or immediately after the race in the last 9 years. (MamaMia, Animal Justice Party)
How profitable is the horse industry in Australia?
Equestrian activities in Australia are estimated to boost the economy by over $1 billion each year. This excludes income from horse racing, polo, rodeo, western events, and tent pegging.
The Australian horse industry is heavily weighted toward the sport of horse racing. Tracks around the country contribute a significant amount of money to the Australian economy. The sport isn’t without its faults, however. It has led to significant numbers of equine deaths during or after races due to injuries. Breeding operations offer large numbers of horse exports overseas, but the aging population of horse farm owners may lead to a future decline in the industry. Australia is also home to a large population of feral horses that are causing concerns about the deterioration of sensitive ecosystems. The Australian Government is heavily involved in trying to mitigate the growth of these wild horses.
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Featured Image Credit: Horsemen, Shutterstock