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


III. Size of Connecticut's Horse Population

In 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.