South Carolina Department of Agriculture . . .

Hugh E. Weathers

January 19, 2006

Characteristics of SC’s Equine Industry

COLUMBIA, SC – Today, Hugh Weathers, Commissioner of Agriculture, announced the characteristics of the state’s equine industry according to the SC Equine Census recently conducted by the South Carolina Agricultural Statistics office of NASS, USDA.

According to the survey sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, the total equine inventory consists of 84,300 horses, mules, and donkeys. An estimated 260,000 acres of land in South Carolina are dedicated solely to equine purposes. This represents 17.8 percent of the total acreage on places with resident equine.

Commissioner Weathers said, "One of the most impressive figures derived from the census is that equine related assets (land, buildings, trucks, trailers, tack, carriages, carts, barrels, jumps, etc.) in South Carolina as of December 31, 2004 totaled just under $3 billion dollars. To put that into perspective, to count to three billion nonstop one number per second without sleeping or eating is estimated to take over 95 years. That’s a lot of dollars invested in the equine industry in South Carolina."

In addition, there were 35,000 people in the state involved in ownership of equine. Female owners totaled 18,000 and male owners numbered 17,000. Of the places with resident equine, 11 percent of the operators considered equine to be their primary occupation. The primary occupation of the remaining 89 percent of the operators was not equine related. However, these operators still devoted 11 hours per week to equine activities.

Of the 18,500 places with resident equine, 72.5 percent considered their residence/place as having equine only for pleasure or personal use and 20.2 percent categorized their operation as a farm or ranch. Boarding, riding, or training facilities accounted for 3.8 percent and the remaining 3.5 percent were equine breeding, sales, show/events, or other type of facility.

Equine used primarily for pleasure, trail riding, etc. accounted for 59.7 percent of the total inventory. Equine used primarily for breeding made up 12.2 percent of the total and equine used for show or competition accounted for 10.9 percent. Racing equine registered 3.9 percent of the total, and 1.7 percent were primarily used for carriage/cart driving. The remaining 11.6 percent were equine used for farm work, old or retired equine, and all other uses.

Warmbloods registered the highest average value per head at $17,505, followed by Thoroughbreds at an average value of $14,715 per head. After these, average values per head dropped significantly with Paso Finos the third highest at $4,352 per head and $3,696 for Arabians.

The number of paid workers on places with resident equine during 2004 totaled 3,600. Workers employed for 150 days or more accounted for 48 percent of the total. Unpaid workers (family members, neighbors, etc.) on places with resident equine totaled 13,500 with 81 percent of these working 150 days or more in 2004.

For more information about South Carolina’s equine industry, call Mary Ellen Tobias, Equine Marketing Specialist, 803-734-2349. For additional state and county level statistics, visit At the site, click on 2004 Equine Survey Results.

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Becky Walton
Director of Communications and Public Information
South Carolina Department of Agriculture
PO Box 11280
Columbia, SC 29211