III. Size of Connecticut's Horse Population
order to arrive at a reasonable estimate of horses in Connecticut, we
decided to target their service providers rather than relying on lists
of horse owners obtained from horse-related clubs and organizations. We
chose to survey veterinarians because of the ease of compiling a fairly
complete mailing list of this service provider and because all horses
need to be vaccinated at least once a year. Moreover, we felt that veterinarians
would tend to have more detailed and updated records of their clients
than other service providers.
A list of veterinarians in Connecticut was compiled using rosters of various
horse clubs and organizations, the equine extension specialist’s
database, Just Horses Directory, and, most importantly, the Connecticut
Veterinary Medical Association. The survey was pre-tested and then sent
to all veterinarians (including non-horse veterinarians).
A total of 149 veterinary surveys were mailed out and 79 (53 percent)
were received with full information. The veterinarians were asked if they
treated horses, the number of horses they treated overall, and the number
from within Connecticut in 2002. Out of the 79 respondents, 42 treated
horses (53 percent). Moreover, 30 percent of these 42 veterinarians treated
horses exclusively while the rest treated other animals as well. The 42
veterinarians together treated 27,396 horses overall and 21,764 horses
only in Connecticut during 2002. Interviews with selected veterinarians
suggest that typically there is substantial customer loyalty and no more
than one-third of the horse owner clients could be consulting with other
veterinarians in the same year.
Based on available data and reasonable assumptions, Connecticut veterinarians
treated 79.44% of Connecticut horses and the remaining 20.56% were treated
out-of-state, resulting in an estimate of 51,671 horses in Connecticut
if no horses are double counted. On the other hand, if one-third of the
horses are doubled counted, the number of horses in Connecticut is 34,447.
The mid-point of this range is 43,059 horses.
It should be noted this figure is substantially higher than the total
number of horses that could be obtained from extrapolation of our owner
survey data (i.e., approximately 3,000 horses). This is to be expected
given the incomplete nature of our horse owner mailing lists. There is
no obvious way to have been able to predict such a large margin of error,
which makes us skeptical of research that uses horse-owner mailing lists
for enumeration of horses.