COLLEGE STATION With the number of horse owners and related activities on the rise, equine industry experts say analysis and trend data is critical to better represent economic impact.
The proposed Center for Equine Business Studies at Texas A&M University would provide some of the first-ever detailed data of the estimated $102 billion equine industry, depicting a true number of horses owned in the U.S., said Dr. Ernie Davis, center director.
“Something like this is badly needed,” Davis said. “This (center) would really bring the whole industry together and tell an accurate story of how much the equine industry contributes each year.”
The center concept has already been approved by Texas A&M Board of Regents, but funding will depend on outside support.
At a recent meeting at Texas A&M, Davis and other equine leaders on a strategic planning council discussed potential funding options. One is a membership support system, where associations, retailers and others pay dues. Those funds would be used to fund center research and operations.
“Membership would be at the broadest level and not exclude anyone,” Davis said.
Developments such as a national inventory database would help generate economic analysis in various sectors of the industry, Davis said, including pleasure riding, reining, cutting and team roping, penning, and trail riding.
“There’s no standard marketing mechanism for the horse industry,” he said. “We could get greater market exposure for the horse industry by providing some trend data that various associations and retailers could use in promotion.”
Such data could also influence legislation “that can either negatively or positively affect the use of horses by the public,” said Dr. Bill Moyer, center associate director and head of veterinary large animal and surgery at Texas A&M.
“It could also have major decision-making capabilities on handicapped riding programs, reason or reasons for entrepreneurial efforts in selected areas, data to help select marketing approaches the impact could be far-reaching.”
Dr. Pete Gibbs, Texas Cooperative Extension equine specialist, told the group he hopes to find out more about the social aspect of horse ownership.
“More than 70 percent of horse owners at a recent workshop said they were from an urban background,” Gibbs said. “A majority of these people grew up on concrete and had no previous farm background. It would be good to know why they got into owning horses. ”
Some choose to own horses simply of their therapeutic value, Gibb said, but there’s no statistical data to back up that claim. The center could offer such research assistance, he said.
Davis and other industry experts plan to meet later this spring to discuss the proposed center.