College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources | Agricultural & Resource Economics | Animal Science | Equine Program


IV. Demographic Characteristics of Horse Ownership and Use in Connecticut

IV.1 Overview and Data Collection Procedures

The objectives of the horse owner survey were to obtain information related to broad characteristics of horse ownership and to investigate the types, values, and uses of horses owned by Connecticut households. The survey was pre-tested.

A total of 1,061 owner surveys were mailed out and 366 (34.5%) of these were completed. Of the people surveyed, 83% owned at least one horse at the time and were able to respond to the subsequent questions in the survey.

IV.2 Horse Owner Profile

The survey results indicate that Connecticut's horse owning population has the following general characteristic

  1. Most of the horse owning population has individual ownership (71.6%) as opposed to joint or business ownership.
  2. The vast majority of horse owners (88% ) are females.
  3. The age distribution of horse owners is reported in Figure
    4-1. The average age of the horse owner is about 45 years.
  4. The average length of time a person had owned a horse was 18.61 years.
  5. The predominant primary occupation of horse owners could be classified as professional (since Manager/Engineer/Scientist/Teacher and Secretary/Assistant categories account for 64.2% of respondents).
  6. Figure 4-2 shows the geographical location of horses in Connecticut based on our sample. There is no direct relationship between horse numbers and human population density. Litchfield, with the highest number of horses, is the most rural of all Connecticut counties with a population density of 198 persons per square mile (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). On the other hand, Windham is the next most rural county after Litchfield (with a population density of 213 persons per square mile), yet it is has the least number of horses in our sample.
  7. Horse ownership in Connecticut is best described as a personal recreational activity. Respondents were asked to rate the reasons for owning a horse on a scale of 1 (least important) to 5 (most important). Respondents could choose more than one response. Figure 4-3 summarizes the results. The first bar corresponds to companionship. About 71% rated this as the most important reason for owning a horse, while 18% considered it the second most important reason. Similarly, the second bar shows that personal and family use and recreation is considered most important by 67%.
  8. The most common uses of horses in our sample are companionship (71%) and recreation (67%). Many other states in the U.S. display a similar pattern. Also, the national averages reported in the 2005 American Horse Council study are consistent with these results.
  9. The average annual household income of our respondents is about $100,000. The largest income group is that of $50,000 - $74,999 (22% of horse owners) and the majority are in the income range 50,000-99,999 (50% of horse owners). Note that average annual income per household in Connecticut is approximately $61,000, which suggests that horse ownership in Connecticut is associated with middle to higher incomes.
  10. The average number of horses per owner is 2. Horses appear to be owned primarily by households with 2 people, while the average number of people living in the household is 2.89.

IV.3 Horse Types and Use Characteristics

Respondents were asked for the sex and age of their horse(s), use characteristics (including manure handling and helmet use), and market value of horse-related assets. Results are summarized below

  1. Geldings (54%) and mares (43%) account for most of the horses in our sample. The average age of horses owned was 14, with most horses ranging in age from 6 to 18.
  2. Over half (53%) of horse owners in Connecticut do not board their horses. In that case horses are kept on privately owned land. The average area of land used for this purpose is 13 acres of which respondents own an average of 7 acres and lease the rest. Owners primarily keep their horse on pasture (38%) or a combination of stall and pasture (37%). About 19% of horses in Connecticut are kept in stalls only.
  3. Almost 67% of the owners indicated that they have sufficient access to greenways and trails to ride their horses while the rest feel that they need more greenways and trails in Connecticut. Most respondents believe that the increasing development in open space is threatening natural trails and greenways.
  4. The predominant method of manure handling is spreading on fields (37%) either before or after composting.
  5. Two-thirds of horse owners wear a helmet while riding a horse but only 37% of horse owners wear a helmet while driving a horse. However, the number of horse owners who would require others to wear helmets riding or driving is higher than the number of horse owners who wear helmets while engaged in the same activity.
  6. Data obtained on market value estimates for horse-related assets (as of 2002) is shown in Table 4-1. Land and buildings were the highest valued assets on average.
  7. Data were also obtained on the use of horses as a source of income in various categories for horse owners, including a breakdown of horse related expenses. Only about 15% of respondents indicate income generation from their horses and the average of the amounts reported is $5,054. The average of total expenses, on the other hand, is $12,375.


Table 4-1: Fair Market Value (FMV) for
Horse-Related Assets