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What Will the Future of the Horse Industry Be Like?

Preface: This article is being released instead of a basic news release to promote a new book titled: "The Ultimate Equine Legal and Business Advisor," By George G. Johnson, Jr. and Tracy D. Dowson. We hope that it both piques your interest and answers some of your questions.

Your childhood memories with your horse may tell more about your age than looking at your teeth. While some people remember the old plow horses at their grandparents, others will remember the popularity of the Appaloosa horse in the late 1960's. Many babyboomers remember the large classes in breed and 4-H shows and these boomers are aging, still riding and showing and creating a demand for more comforts like horse trailer's with living quarters. The youth of today may have memories of all those release forms that their parents have to sign or events being cancelled by outbreaks of diseases like Vesicular Stomititis.

The world around us has changed drastically in the past ten years and these changes are like a great rolling snowball that increases in size as it barrels straight towards us. Changes on all fronts including: biotechnology, legislation, public opinion, access to information, land development and the actual manner in which horses are used.

Aging babyboomers are still riding and spending lots of money on their horse activities. However, you may wonder exactly how it measures up? The economic impact of the horse industry is large by any standards. According to the American Horse Council's 2002 Horse Industry Handbook, there are 6.9 million horses in the United States including commercial and recreational horses. The horse industry directly produces good and services of $25.3 billion and has a total impact of $112.1 billion on U.S. gross domestic product.

The industry's contribution to the U.S. GDP is greater than the motion picture services, railroad transportation, furniture and fixtures manufacturing, and tobacco product manufacturing industries. Check your state's horse council for your state's horse industry contribution.

Canada reports the value of the equine industry to be between $2.1 billion and $4.7 billion, according to the Equine Research Center of Canada.

Twenty to thirty years ago, we never had horse councils, lobbyists or some of the other aspects of the horse industry that we have today. The topics frequently discussed in horse councils include: land use issues, specifically trail access; development and loss of feed/pasture land, and unfavorable zoning. We have entered a time when every horse owner should belong to their local or state horse council and keep informed regarding issues that will eventually affect them. A future trend will be that horse owners will need to be even more politically active.

Most experts agree that land loss is the most threatening obstacle to the horse industry, but perhaps an even greater threat may be the lack of interest and involvement among the younger generation. Young people today are interested in extreme sports, thrive on movies like Warren Miller's ski movies and buy sport utility vehicles. I've always thought that horse events had the intense drama and entertainment value of any other sport. With even more variety - everything from rodeo, to racing and jumping to endurance riding. We just haven't been marketing it very well. Marketing to the general public will have to rise to the professional level of other sporting events. Other marketing outreach programs within breed organizations include incentive programs and awards for outside (the arena) activities. Being able to obtain information and horse related products via the internet has helped both babyboomers and the generation X'ers pursue horse activities.

Public opinion will shape the future of the industry also. I recently read an article in the Oprah magazine regarding the therapeutic value of horses. This is a good example of how horses benefit our society as a whole. In contrast, when the cameras dwell on the accidents in show jumping or horse racing, like the camera-work you would expect from a demolition derby, the public becomes disheartened. Horse owners want to ride their horses on open space or government trails, to show or race their horses in competition and animal rights activists and others are watching. The public is becoming more involved with horses simply by having the opportunity to vote on issues that effect horses.

Another big change is that the number of "backyard horse owners" is decreasing while boarding stable customers is on the rise. As a past president of a horse council, I can tell you from experience that landowners are more politically active. Boarders tend to expect the boarding stable owner or manager to go to horse council meetings and write their congressman regarding issues. Activism will need to be a part of the future for horse owners just to keep the benefits that we now take for granted.

Also, our society is becoming more sophisticated and litigious. The average horse owner buying a horse will need to understand the legal ramifications and limitations. Not to mention buying horse property and developing proper contracts. Most horse owners know that horse ownership is accompanied by certain legal responsibilities. Obviously, an owner must provide adequate feed and water to their horse(s). They must be confined in a secure manner where they cannot escape onto either the lands of others or onto public rights-of-way. Horses must also be protected from known hazards, must not be abused or mistreated and must also receive necessary veterinary treatment to keep them free of obvious pain. These are commonly known responsibilities of horse owners.

However, these requirements have deeper consequences and obligations. In the area of providing adequate feed and water for horses responsible owners must be sure that both the food and water that is being provided is adequate both in quantity and quality. Moldy hay and contaminated water will not satisfy this requirement. Owners should know what their horses are eating and drinking, and should also be sure that they are receiving adequate amounts to keep them healthy under the circumstances. For instance, horses that are seldom ridden or used need less nourishment than horses being used on a regular basis, but regardless of the use have certain minimum dietary requirements.

All of the responsibilities of horse ownership run far below the surface of these stated requirements. The privilege of horse ownership is accompanied by legal responsibilities that are varied and deep. Horse owners will face many issues in the future and to be best prepared for these situations, owners will want to be armed with the best information possible.

"The Ultimate Equine Legal and Business" advisor has been developed to assist every horse owner at some point in their lives. It is written in a simple, straight-forward manner with every effort made to make the reading informative and enjoyable. It retails for $36 plus shipping. Inquiries may be directed to Pica Publishing 800–279-2001 ext. 209, or

About the authors: George G. Johnson is an attorney licensed to practice in Colorado and Texas. He has since passed the reins of the Johnson Law firm down to his two sons and began a new career with the International Arabian Horse Association as their Judges and Stewards Commissioner. Tracy D. Dowson was raised on a boarding and training facility, graduated from CSU with a degree in Technical Journalism and Public Relations, and has worked as a newspaper editor, copywriter and publishing company manager before starting Pica Publishing.

Book Title: The Ultimate Equine Legal and Business Advisor
Authors: George G. Johnson, Jr., and Tracy D. Dowson
I.S.B.N.: 0-9630558-1-X
Specifications: 298 pages, paperback, $36.00 plus shipping ($2 media rate or $4 Priority)

Table of Contents
1. Forms of Equine Businesses
2. The Business Plan Defined
3. Financing an Equine Operation
4. Buying Horse Property
5. Employer Responsibilities
6. When, Why and How to Computerize Your Horse Records
7. Equine Businesses and Taxes
8. Bookkeeping Procedures
9. Collection of Debts
10. Brand Inspection Laws and Horse Ownership
11. Contracts
12. Liability of Horsemen
13. Product Liability
14. Animal Abuse and Neglect Laws
15. Horse Trailering
16. Estate Planning for Horse Owners
17. Insurance Considerations
18. The Dynamics of a Lawsuit
19. Marketing
20. Public Relations
21. Advertising
22. Customer Service
23. How to Select an Attorney

"This book could be used as a textbook for an Equine Business course, like the ones I taught at several Universities during my teaching career. It bring under one cover the myriad of things that must be considered by horsepersons in today's complex and litigious society."
From the Forward written by Doug Butler, Phd, CJF FWCF


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