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“Welcome to Kentucky, the Horse Capitol of the World!”
Ever heard that phrase before? Chances are you have. From the historic Run for the Roses to the recent 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrians Games, people all over the United States and abroad associate the equine with Kentucky. The horse industry is Kentucky’s signature industry, so keeping that in mind, let me pose a question:
How many horses are in Kentucky?
Oh, that sounds like it should be easy to answer. Now let me see, there’s uh…um, well there’s about, uh….well gosh, I really don’t know. How many horses are in Kentucky?!
The University of Kentucky’s Equine Initiative is looking to answer that question.
The EI, an organization within the College of Agriculture, brings together people from all walks of equine involvement: professors, researchers, Extension educators, industry leaders, farm owners, healthcare providers, etc.
Although far reaching in discipline, each member of the Equine Initiative seeks a common goal: promote and support the Kentucky horse industry. Currently, the EI are in the process of gathering information to conduct a statewide survey of horses in the state.
Although Kentucky and horses go together as well as peanut butter and jelly, information is lacking in terms of how many horses are actually in the state. This survey is looking to provide answers to several topics, including the number and location of horses and horse farms as well as the impact the horse industry has on the state’s economy.
This UK-led project, in partnership with the University of Louisville’s Equine Business program, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the Kentucky Horse Council, will provide great insight on the horses in our state.
The information gathered can be used to aid in policy decisions, provide data for business plans, guide research and extension programs, and provide a reference point to allow tracking of industry changes and trends in the future.
In addition, the study will be able to describe the economic value of the horse industry in Kentucky, including the value of equine-related land and buildings, and the state, federal, and local taxes contributed by the participants in the equine survey.
Be on the lookout for notifications of upcoming meetings discussing specific topics on the survey.
The UK team will be conducting meetings throughout the state to discuss important issues facing the equine industry, which will in turn shape the nature of the survey. Next year, the survey will be sent to horse owners.
Whether you own one horse or many horses, I encourage you to become part of this discussion. In Kentucky, every horse counts, and every horse owner is important. Call me at the Extension Office, (502) 732-7030, and talk to me about your horses.
I want to know the number, the breed, the disciplines, and most importantly, the current issues you are facing as a horse owner. Your contributions can help shape the support for horse owners in our county and across the state.
Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.