If there was any doubt that the equine industry is an economic force in the United States, an impact study conducted by the American Horse Council Foundation provides proof.

The industry generates about $122 billion in total economic impact, according to the AHC Foundation’s 2017 Economic Impact Study of the U.S. Horse Industry. The number represents a $20 billion increase over the 2005 study. In addition, the industry has a total employment impact of 1.74 million and is responsible for $79 billion in total salaries, wages and benefits.

“Those involved in the equine industry already know how important it is to the U.S. economy,” says Julie Broadway, American Horse Council president. “Having these updated numbers is critical not only to the AHC’s efforts up on Capitol Hill, but also for the industry to demonstrate to the general public how much of a role the equine has in American households.”

The number of horses in the U.S. is 7.2 million — a decrease of 2 million since the 2005 study — with Texas, California and Florida the top three states with the largest population.

“While the number of horses in the U.S. has decreased,” Broadway says, “this was not entirely unexpected due to the decline in breed registration trends over the last few years.”

Yet, 38 million — or 30.5% — of U.S. households have a horse enthusiast, and 38% are younger than 18. In addition, about 80 million acres of land is reserved for horse-related activities.

“For this update of the study we wanted to get a better picture of the number of youth in the pipeline, which is a number that we have not previously included in our economic impact studies,” Broadways says. “Additionally, being able to put a number of the amount of land use for equine-related activities is essential to ensuring that we are able to continue to protect and preserve that land for its intended use.”

The AHC Foundation’s impact study is available for purchase on its website.