March 23, 2017
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UW-Extension: Dissecting the equine industry’s impact

Horses can be job creators; Educational program set for March


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COMMENTARY BY LEIGH PRESLEY


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UW-EXTENSION AGRICULTURE EDUCATOR

I realized early on that I was not a “horse person.”

Riding lessons at our family friend’s arena left me feeling sore and demoralized, dreading the next lesson. Like my grandfather who celebrated the day the last horse left his dairy farm, horses and I just didn’t click.

While these feelings have lingered into adulthood, they haven’t prevented me from appreciating the special bond that horses and their owners and riders share. I’ve also gained an appreciation for the many other benefits horses offer — from therapy to the important working role they still play on some farms and many ranches. And although they get a bad rap as “hay burners” — eating a lot, but providing little monetary benefit to the owner — the horse industry as a whole has a significant economic impact.

It’s true that the costs of owning a horse far outweigh the revenues they generate: according to a study by the Survey Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, the median annual horse-related revenue in is only $300 per Wisconsin horse owner, while the typical owner spends about $7,365 a year on horse-related expenditures.

Total revenues from the horse industry equate to $30 to $35 million annually, but the expenditures are where the real economic activity stems from, totaling $735 to $862 million annually. These expenses include money spent on all that it takes to keep a horse housed and healthy: feed, veterinary services, farriers, boarding, farm supplies and more. In this regard, horses are job creators — 33,259 to 37,416 Wisconsin jobs are supported in some way by the equine industry, generating between $269 and $303 million in labor income.

UW-Extension recognizes the value of the equine industry and the need to provide educational opportunities for horse owners and enthusiasts.

This year we are offering our annual Stateline Equine Education Program from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 4 at the Kenosha County Center in Bristol. This year’s program will focus on the special needs of older horses. Specific topics will address exercising and feeding older horses, diseases and disorders common in older horses, and guidance for making difficult decisions when a horse is at the end of its life.

Speakers will include local veterinarians Dr. Kevin Nelson and Dr. Ayla Guild as well as a guest speaker Dr. Bob Stenbom from Minnesota. Registration is $25 per adult, $40 for groups of two and $15 for youth. For more information and to register, visit www.kenosha.uwex.edu or call the Kenosha County UW-Extension office at 262-857-1945.


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