Equestrian Industry in the UK Compared to the Rest of the World

horse racing image to represent Shishkin racehorse - note not a picture of the horse Cheltenham Races

Unless you’re directly involved in it, the equestrian industry is one that most people never really consider. Horse-riding and racing is part of UK life and something that is ingrained into the culture.

Horses are an extremely valuable asset, and it’s not uncommon to hear about ex-footballers “buying a racehorse” or investing in a stable. It’s impossible to enjoy success without a love of horses as the equine industry is hard work, but this passion can often translate into wealth.

Often described as one of the largest industries that manage to hide in plain sight, the equestrian industry in the UK is exceptionally high value.

High-Value Activity

Many people may have enjoyed horse riding as a child or maybe gone pony trekking while on holiday. But the truth is that the industry is vast internationally, much bigger than many people realise.


Internationally, the equestrian sector is worth around $300 billion, a figure which continues to increase. Analysis of the UK market shows that the UK share is approximately $6.2 billion, a hefty sum that eclipses some of the nations which are larger.

Unsurprisingly, the US leads the way with a market share of $102 billion. Canada’s equestrian industry is worth $16 billion to their economy, while it’s valued at $5 billion in Australia. A keen equine nation, Ireland has an equestrian sector worth $1.3 billion, while China’s share is $1.58 billion. Collectively, Europe makes up $133 billion of the equestrian market.

Collectively the UK and Ireland employ 85,000 in the sector. This compares to 26,000 in Australia and 460,000 in the much larger US equestrian market.

British Expertise

Despite being a smaller country than many others involved in equestrian pursuits, Britain remains one of the leading experts in the field. Its performance in equestrian events on an international stage, such as five medals in the 2020 Olympics, demonstrates that the UK remains deeply committed to equine events.

But it’s not just sporting performances on horses where the UK excels; equestrians from all over the world travel to Britain to take advantage of the expertise. Overseas trade in the equestrian world is estimated to be worth £500 million in the UK, with a significant proportion of the income coming from the Middle East.

The equine industry is the second-largest rural employer in the UK, only topped by agriculture. There are approximately one million horses owned by 374,000 households in the UK. However, far more people enjoy horse-riding in the UK, and it’s an activity that attracts more female and disabled participants than any other sport. Almost 40% of those taking part do not engage in any other form of sport or physical activity.

After football, horse racing is the second best-attended sport in Britain.

Although the UK enjoys a reputation as having industry-leading experts, it’s a sector that is growing elsewhere in the world. The number of horse clubs in China has grown by 1500% in less than a decade, with the potential for even more growth and expansion.

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