California Chrome will be the toast of the horse racing world if he wins the Belmont Stakes on June 7 and becomes the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed, some 36 years ago.
But the equine industry itself is riding through a rough patch, according to a recently released census from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The U.S. horse population decreased about 10 percent between 2007 and 2012, the USDA said. So too have the number of farms and ranches raising them—with a 12 percent decline over the same time period.
Comments from Adam Trenk:
“The results of this census are not surprising. Given that hay is the staple that fuels the equine industry, the staggering increase in its costs has caused financial pressures to squeeze out market participants, particularly in Arizona.
“This is especially true because about half of all equestrians are hobbyists who do not make a living in the horse business. As hobbyists they are only spending their discretionary income on horse-related activities, and the average family’s discretionary spending power is not as strong as most of us would like given the sluggish economic recovery.
“This has an obvious impact on the professional sector of the industry. For equine professionals many things can be done to insulate one’s business from risk, minimize tax exposure and maximize productivity. A licensed attorney familiar with the horse business can help.