The Equestrian Economy

How much is the equestrian economy worth to New Zealand?

Approx 1 Billion dollars of annual economic spend from recreational horse owners. This figure does not include capital expenses, export of horses, or downstream economic inputs from businesses.

How do we know?

In New Zealand we simply don't know; there is no way to review Statistics New Zealand categories to capture the equine sector, nor do we have an Equestrian Business Association or group similar to Britain's BETA. We do know that there are numerous businesses that surround every horse; feed merchants to farriers, trainers to transporters and many, many others.

So in an effort to correct this, we (NZ Horse Network) surveyed horse owners to see how much each average horse pumps into the economy. The ave. spend result was $12,500 per horse per year. But this raised a secondary obstacle in calculating the value of the horse industry; how many horses are there in New Zealand? Based on Agribase's* biosecurity database there were 120,000 horses registered, and approx 40,000 of those are racehorses. That left 80,000 registered recreation-sporthorses.

*There has been another shuffling of resources, and Asure Quality Agribase has returned to being a private database, and MPI now have a farm search product.


as at May 2011 Annual Expenditure On average survey respondents so far spend just under $13,000 per year per horse (excluding large capital expenses).

The biggest single expenditure is on feeding\housing (grazing fees or livery), however when similar expenses are categorised - travel (vehicle expenses and maintenance), recreation and education costs are the biggest category averaging just under $5,000 per year per horse.

Capital Expenditure

Big capital expenses included property, buildings, vehicles and saddlery.

Most respondents who had purchased property did so purely so they could have their horses at home. For horse owners the average property price of $830.000 is only the start; barns and stables were high on the list of improvements with costs running from the simple DIY barn @ $6000, through to $200,000. About 20% of respondents had build an arena on their property, at an average cost of $21,000.

Everyone had purchased saddles and other tack, which averaged $7000 per horse. This figure suddenly looked extremely reasonable when compared to the most common large expenditure, a vehicle. With so few safe roads, and even fewer bridleways in this country it is almost compulsory for a horse owner to also have a horse float or truck to be able to ride, and certainly to compete. Expenditure on vehicles averaged $38,000; this is considered an extremely conservative figure as the survey did not include any respondents

who spent over $100,000 on a vehicle, yet a large new, truck can cost as much as $750,000.

Those without horses still spend up on their passion; averaging $3000 per year on lessons, horse hire and equestrian clothing or accessories.

Waikato University Review of NZ Horse Network Survey Data

You can view the full document here >>

A Waikato University Masters Student, Alex Matheson, used the data from our survey to perform his own analysis on the value of the equine economy.

Media Reports:

Note: While all the media reports implied that Alex performed his own research. The published paper identifies that it is the economic data survey performed by NZ Horse Network (or NZ Horse recreation group as we were known then) that was used in this study. I am referred to as 'lead researcher', although the research was performed without any support from or intention of providing it to Waikato University. There is also some 'smoke and mirrors' used when referring to 'an outside company' on one page. There is also information in the report that is directly copied from other documents I have written (namely the report on horse recreation in the Auckland Regional Parks).