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Waikato University study: Sport horse industry worth $1B


2 November 2012

University of Waikato study finds sport horse industry worth $1B

The sport horse industry in New Zealand is worth over $1 billion a year according to a University of Waikato student’s study.

Masters of Business Administration student Alex Matheson has completed what’s believed to be the first investigation into the size and scope of the sport horse industry in New Zealand.

A graduate of the agricultural and horse-industry based Marcus Oldham College in Australia, Alex decided to undertake the study after finding there was no information available on the collective economic impact of the industry.

His figures come as Equidays kicks off at Mystery Creek.

The University of Waikato is once again a major partner of Equidays – a national event for all sectors of the equine industry.

Sport horses are defined as all horses that are not being used for racing or breeding horses for the purpose of racing.

“I wanted to get a better understanding of the sport horse industry in New Zealand. The actual size of this sector of the industry is not widely known and before this has not been studied collectively.”


He carried out an online survey of more than 150 participants, asking questions about everything from the grazing costs for their horses, transportation, vet bills and more. This data was then compared to the Agribase Biosecurity database.

Of the estimated 80,000 sport horses in New Zealand, the average total annual spend per horse was $12,500, meaning the sport horse industry is worth over $1 billion or 0.5 per cent of New Zealand’s annual GDP.

Alex’s numbers do not include major capital purchases such as property, horses, saddlery and transport, but instead looks at the maintenance cost of horse-ownership.

The three major costs of horse-ownership were transportation expenses, feeding and housing, and the use of professional services such as vets and farriers.

“There is no other sporting or recreational activity that requires an on-going cost to maintain the key component of that pursuit,” says Alex. “Motor racing has a similar high level of financial input, however if you stop racing, you eliminate all expenses. This is not achievable with the sport horse industry.


“The impact of this study is that we can see what reach the sport horse industry has, over $1 billion a year, all of it staying within the country. This study is about getting the industry as a whole recognised.”

Equidays runs from 2-4 November, and will showcase all aspects of the equine industry, from horse breeding and racing, to recreation and research.


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