Impact study: Maryland equine industry valued at $1.3 billion

Posted: May 15, 2018

The Maryland equine industry contributes more than $1.3 billion to the state’s economy, with more than half generated by horse racing and related businesses, according to the latest economic impact study commissioned by the American Horse Council.

A May 14 release disseminated by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association notes that total employment in the state’s horse industry is more than 21,000 jobs. Racing, both Thoroughbred and Standardbred, produces $365 million in economic value and provides more than 5,200 jobs for a total economic impact of $572 million, according to the study.

The report outlines three primary sectors of the horse industry: recreation, competition, and racing. Other benefits that spin off from the horse industry are land preservation, volunteerism, equine therapy and rehoming operations, and educational opportunities at academic institutions.

“Horses are a part of Maryland’s history and heritage, but this study confirms the important contributions that industry makes today to Maryland’s economy and way of life,” MHBA Executive Director Cricket Goodall said. “As a part of the agriculture community, horse farms are productive partners in protecting the environment and educating young people.”

Horse racing in Maryland has rebounded in recent years as a result of a 10-year agreement among stakeholders and a dedicated percentage of video lottery terminal revenue from the state’s casinos. Breeding and racing have both experienced growth.

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has worked in partnership with the Maryland Jockey Club to judiciously expand racing opportunities, primarily at Laurel Park, and pari-mutuel handle has increased substantially from four years ago. The MTHA also has worked with the Maryland State Fair to bolster the live race meet at Timonium in the summer.

“Maryland’s racing industry has continued to grow and make major strides at our facilities,” Maryland Jockey Club President Sal Sinatra said. “The support from spectators and horsemen throughout the country has allowed us to continue to grow and excel.”

The economic impact study also states that Maryland continues to have the most horses per square mile–10.5–for a total of more than 101,000. In addition, about 25% of land considered agricultural–750,000 acres–is devoted to horses.

There are at least 36 therapy operation facilities, 13 rescue and rehoming operations, and more than 300 equine associations and several academic institutions that educate, promote and contribute to Maryland’s economy, the study states.

Ross Peddicord, Executive Director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, said the diversity of the equine industry in the state is an asset.

“The study confirms the depth and breadth of the equine industry,” Peddicord saisd. “We have 35 different equestrian disciplines and 40 breeds of horses with horse shows, rodeos and thousands of folks, particularly youngsters, taking riding lessons and learning about and enjoying horses. Both the racing and non-racing sectors complement each other in a very strong and productive way.”

(Photo by Tom LaMarra)