Horse statistics

Brits own horses as both pets and equestrian athletes.

As a pet, horses can be a best friend to you and your family. If you own a horse for the purposes of competitions, your companion will offer you a way into the equestrian world.
From field rent to training equipment, there’s no question that a horse is one of the most financially demanding pets you can own. As well as this, a horse requires a commitment of both emotion and time. Honour your commitment by investing in horse insurance to ensure that nothing happens to your horse that can’t be covered.

Did you know?

  • The average age of a horse is 13.
  • The smallest horse is less than 50cm tall, while the tallest is over 2 metres.
  • The value of the equestrian sector is £4.7 billion.

In 2019…

  • The number of regular riders is 1.8 million – an increase from 1.3 million five years before.
  • The horse population in Britain is estimated to be 847,000.
  • The average frequency of riding is 3.5 times a week, with sessions lasting for an average of 52 minutes.

The leading pets in the UK

With 7 million dogs in the UK, dogs are the most popular pet in the UK. The number of horses and ponies is 1% of this number, with only 100,000 kept as pets. The concentration of horses is highest, at 3%, in four regions: the South East, the South West, Wales and Scotland.

Pet UK households
Dog 7mill
Cat 4.9mill
Rabbit 0.5mill
Indoor bird 0.3mill
Guinea pig 0.3mill
Hamsters 0.3mill
Tortoises and turtles 0.2mill
Lizards 0.1mill
Domestic fowl 0.1mill
Snakes 0.1mill
Horses and ponies 0.1mill
Rat 0.05mill
Ferret 0.03mill
Gerbil 0.03mill
Insects 0.03mill

The cost of owning a horse

Owning a horse is a huge investment. A horse living on full livery can cost up to £10,300 a year. Check out an overview of the largest costs on average in the chart below and head to the table for a more in-depth look at the finances.

Item On grass livery On DIY stabled livery On full livery
Livery £1,040-£1,300 £1,560-£2,080 £5,200-£7,800
Hay, straw and shavings £140-£220 £1,040-£1,560 Normally included in livery fee.
Feed £120-£240 £260-£520 Normally included in livery fee.
Vet's fees £70 £70 £70
Insurance £240-£480 £240-£480 £240-£480
Farrier £225-£765 £225-£765 £225-£765
Dentist £50-£70 £50-£70 £50-£70
Worming £40-£105 £40-£105 £40-£105
Extras £1,000 £1,000 £1,000
Total £2,925-£3,630 £4,485-£6,660 £6,825-£10,300

The overall cost of keeping a horse is wholly dependent on the type of field you are renting. Per year, the cost of full livery is at least four times the price of a grass or DIY stable livery. While the majority of the remaining costs are the same across the three types of livery, a DIY stabled livery requires £1,690 worth of food to be purchased. Therefore, the most cost-effective way to have a horse is to keep it on a grass livery.

The economic value of the equestrian sector

With 27 million people in Britain interested in the equestrian industry, it’s an extremely lucrative market. The exact scale of this economic value is illustrated by the graph below, which shows the gross gambling yield from 2008 to 2018 for on and off-course horse race betting.

Year On course betting Off course betting
2008-09 £23mill £844mill
2009-10 £24mill £768mill
2010-11 £21mill £705mill
2011-12 £21mill £675mill
2012-13 £18mill £697mill
2013-14 £22mill £680mill
2014-15 £21mill £641mill
2015-16 £22mill £600mill
2016-17 £22mill £582mill
2017-18 £21mill £547mill
Off-course betting refers to betting which takes place away from the race track. Without restricting people to being at a racing event, this type of betting brings in a much higher gross yield. The greatest difference between on and off-course betting occurred in 2008-2009, when the gross gambling yield for off-course betting was 37 times greater.


Equine World UK
Gambling Commission

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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