While there are still many challenges, it appears that the equine industry is beginning to recover from its disastrous 2008 recession. This is based on the percentage of respondents owning horses or competing with them at the same or higher levels than 2 years ago.

Results from a survey conducted earlier this year by American Horse Publications (American Farriers Journal is a member) shows 65% of owners still have the same number of horses as last year. Another 18% own more horses than a year ago, while only 17% have reduced the number of horses.

Survey participants expected to compete in slightly over five events this year. Most of the increase in the number of competitions is occurring among younger age groups and higher income groups.

Some 73% of survey participants use their horses for pleasure and trail riding. The next most commonly identified usage was dressage, reported by 26% of respondents.

Cost Concerns

When asked to identify areas in which the costs of keeping horses has increased the most, 81% said it was the cost of feed and hay.

Some 71% are concerned about rising fuel costs, while 31% indicated rising veterinary service costs are a major concern.

Some 68% of respondents expect to reduce expenditures in other areas of their lives in order to cope with increased horse-keeping costs, rather than reducing horse numbers.

Farriers Holding Their Own

Even with the challenges facing the equine industry over the past few years, farriers are doing much better than many other equine-related businesses.

From 2009 to 2011, the average income of full-time farriers across the country dropped by 10%. However, this is a much smaller drop in income than that suffered by many others in equine-related fields.

Results from the latest 2012 Farrier Business Practices survey indicates full-time farriers across the country averaged $92,726 in annual income in 2009. This compares with $102,290 in annual income for farriers during 2011.

Conducted every other year, this year’s in-depth American Farriers Journal survey asked 70 questions of readers across the country. This exclusive survey of farmer business practices is the only one of its kind and serves as the bible of data for the hoof-care industry.

Based on the latest survey data, the average charge for a trim and nailing on four keg shoes is $115.21 this year. This represents a 3% increase compared with the $111.70 charged 2 years ago by full-time farriers.

Look for an in-depth report on the 2012 Farrier Business Practices survey in the November issue of American Farriers Journal.