Texas has a lot of horsepower in its equine industry. Of the approximately 9.2 million horses in the United States, nearly 1 million, or 15 percent, reside in Texas. Texas leads the nation in the number of registered American Quarter Horses, American Paint Horses, Appaloosa Horses and American Miniature Horses. Texas is second only to California in numbers of Arabian horses and thoroughbred breeding stallions. Texas horses are used for breeding, showing, teaching, racing and pleasure.
With all these horses come career and job opportunities in many different areas of the equine industry, and a boost to the economy in real dollars, according to the Equine Science Department at North Central Texas College:
- Full-time equivalent employment across the Texas horse industry exceeds 96,000 people.
- Horse owners have $13 billion invested in barns, towing vehicles, trailers, tack and related equipment.
- Owners spend $2.1 billion annually just to maintain their horses.
- In showing and racing alone, nearly 300,000 owners, family members and volunteers spend $3 billion per year attending competitive events, which involves more than 250,000 horses.
- Texas horses are valued at $4.2 billion. The total impact of the horse industry to the Texas economy exceeds $11 billion annually.
Texas Farm Produces Two Derby Winners
Ken Carson wouldn’t change his job as general manager of Valor Farm in Pilot Point. The farm, located in Denton County, is home to seven stallions and breeds 60 of its own mares, as well as breeding mares from others who bring them to the farm.
The farm has produced two Kentucky Derby winners — Aly Sheba in 1987 and Tony Lee in 1959. In 2014, Carson had a filly horse win in one of the Kentucky Oaks stakes, held the day before the Derby. Valor Farm has the distinction of being the only farm west of the Mississippi to win two Kentucky Derby trophies.
“We have nice horses,” Carson says modestly. He’s hopeful they’ll have many more winners in the future.
Attracting Young People To A Diverse Industry
Keeping the equine industry thriving in Texas requires attracting young people to all facets, including showing, breeding, competing and racing. The Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador program does just that. The program provides high school 4-H members with the opportunity to develop leadership skills and become advocates for the equine industry. The 4-H Horse Project introduces students to horsemanship, veterinary science, horse judging and a horse quiz bowl competition.
The goal of the ambassador program is to create a new generation of knowledgeable, educated, well-spoken horse enthusiasts who will teach other youth and adults to be good stewards, producers and exhibitors of horses.