Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
The horse industry in Canada is as diverse as its many provinces. Officially, horse industry activities are tracked and regulated by Equestrian Canada, but each province has its own regulatory board responsible for the development and growth of the horse industry. Events are held annually to promote the industry, provide sporting support, and offer opportunities for equine owners.
Since horses are tracked differently in each province and each province keeps track of horse industry statistics, it’s difficult to find information about the Canadian horse industry as a whole.
There are, however, a few interesting and uniquely Canadian stats that we think that you’d love to know, including:
- 4 Canada-Wide Horse Industry Statistics
- 3 Alberta Horse Industry Statistics
- 2 Horse Riding Injury Statistics
The 10 Most Interesting Canadian Horse Industry Statistics
- In 2020, there were 4,633 equine business establishments in Canada.
- Canada is home to approximately 500,000 horses, with 855,000 people active in the equine industry.
- There are approximately 1,000 top-level equestrian athletes in Canada, which is home to 35 platinum-level events.
- Spruce Meadows, located just outside of Calgary, Alberta, is one of the biggest jumping locations in North America, hosting 500,000 visitors annually, with a stable capacity of 1,000 horses.
- Canada is the only country to host the sport of chuckwagon racing. Races were held for the first time at the Calgary Stampede in 1923.
- 33% of Canada’s horses are located in Alberta.
- The most common horse breed in Alberta is the Quarter Horse, with 55% of horse owners having at least one of this breed.
- 72% of the horse in Alberta participate in some type of regular competition.
- Rodeo events account for only 0.3% of all horse-related injuries.
- 2020 had the lowest rate of equine injuries in Thoroughbred racing since 2009, reporting 1.41 catastrophic injuries per 1,000 starts.
Canada-Wide Horse Industry Statistics
1. In 2020, there were 4,633 equine business establishments in Canada.
Most equine establishments were located in Ontario with 252, followed by Alberta with 122. 74.8% of these businesses were considered micro-businesses that employed five or fewer employees. Interestingly, there is not a single equine business in Canada that employs more than 50 people.
2. Canada is home to approximately 500,000 horses, with 855,000 people active in the equine industry.
550,000 of these individuals live in horse-owning households, while 350,400 people have reported using horses that are owned by someone else. More adults participate than children, with a breakdown of 59% and 41%, respectively. With regard to the demographics of equestrian sports participants, this includes an estimated 117,000 adults and 225,250 children.
3. There are approximately 1,000 top-level equestrian athletes in Canada, which is home to 35 platinum-level events.
These athletes have competed in platinum-level events, including the Olympic Games and the Pan Am games. They have also represented Team Canada in World Championship events in various events. Four Canadians are currently in Jumping’s top 100 rankings in the world. Canada won gold in Dressage and Bronze in Eventing at the 2019 Pan Am games.
4. Spruce Meadows, located just outside of Calgary, Alberta, is one of the biggest jumping facilities in North America, hosting 500,000 visitors annually, with a stable capacity of 1,000 horses.
Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, B.C., is another major draw, hosting nine major hunter and jumper tournaments each year. These events include Canada’s leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup.
On the Western side of things, the Calgary Stampede is hosted every July in Calgary, Alberta. It hosts the Rangeland Derby, which is a chuckwagon racing competition and one of the largest rodeo competitions in North America. The Stampede also boasts cutting, reining, and penning competitions and world-class livestock shows.
5. Canada is the only country to host the sport of chuckwagon racing. Races were held for the first time at the Calgary Stampede in 1923.
(Canadian Museum of History)
Chuckwagon racing originated as a re-enactment of round-up races that took place when wagon drivers raced each other to town. Although the rules have changed a bit over time, chuckwagon races are held throughout the prairie provinces during rodeo season.
Chuckwagons are hooked up to teams of four horses each and race around tracks of varying sizes, with Calgary’s track being the largest at ½ mile in length. When the horn blows, drivers must perform a figure eight around barrels in the infield, then race against either three or four (depending on the size of the infield and track) other wagons in a race to cross the finish line.
Alberta Horse Industry Statistics
6. 33% of Canada’s horses are located in Alberta.
Ontario has the next highest number, followed closely by British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
7. The most common horse breed in Alberta is the American Quarter Horse, with 55% of horse owners having at least one of this breed.
(Alberta Horse Industry Association)
This is followed by Arabians (22%), Thoroughbreds (20.5%), and Paints (16.8%). Racing horses are usually Standardbreds or Thoroughbreds. Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods are popular English horses, particularly for Hunter/Jumper events. Quarter horses, Paints, and Arabians are used as working ranch horses, feedlot horses, or Western competitors. These are, however, general guidelines and not rules. It isn’t unusual for horse breeds to cross into different categories. For example, some Thoroughbreds compete in barrel racing.
8. 72% of the horses in Alberta participate in some type of regular competition.
(Alberta Horse Industry Association)
This includes English competitions, rodeo events, racing, cow work, and ranch horses.
Horse Riding Injury Statistics
While rodeo is viewed as one of the most dangerous sports, significantly more injuries occur in the sport of jumping. Most equine-related injuries are fractures, sprains, strains, and dislocations.
10. 2020 had the lowest rate of equine injuries in Thoroughbred racing since 2009, reporting 1.41 catastrophic injuries per 1,000 starts.
(Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association)
Injuries are lowest on tracks with synthetic surfaces (0.93), with the highest number of injuries occurring on tracks surfaced in dirt (1.6).
Frequently Asked Questions About the Canadian Horse Industry
Does Canada still slaughter horses?
Unfortunately, thousands of horses are sent to slaughter each year in Canada. Many of them are transported from the United States, as slaughter plants have been shut down in that country since 2007. Meat from slaughter plants is primarily exported to Europe and Asia; Japan is the number-one importer of horse meat.
What is the average cost to feed a horse per month in Canada?
The average cost of feed per month ranges between $100 and $300 per head. This is based on hay cost variations determined by supply and demand each year. In a drought year, for example, hay is in relatively short supply; therefore, the price is higher. (Equestrian Canada)
What is the average purchase price of a horse in Canada?
The official average is $6,000; however, it is likely that this average is not accurate. Horses in Canada are considered livestock, so most horses are bought and sold without ever being reported to a regulatory body. The only horse sales that are tracked (and thus included in this average) are horses registered and papered with their breed association. Horses with papers tend to be well-bred, well-trained, and competitive, with some sale prices reaching into five-digit figures. Many “grade” horses sold under $5,000 are not registered or tracked. (Equestrian Canada)
What are the most popular equine sports in Canada?
Racing and breeding are the top uses of horses, with other sports following close behind. 17.8% of Canadian horses are used for pleasure riding and driving. (Equestrian Canada)
Horse sports in order of popularity are:
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The Canadian Horse Industry is thriving, with several world-class equestrian facilities and numerous horses and competitors. Considering the way that horses are bought and sold in Canada, it’s likely that there are many more than what gets reported in these statistics.
Featured Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock