Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


My kingdom for a horseMy kingdom for a horse

Half the horses, double the impact

By Paul Myers and Ainslie Nielsen

If you look only at the statistics, it would be easy to conclude that the days of the horse in Australia are numbered, and that within a few generations the much-loved animal that has so often inspired the nation, may become an endangered species. There is, after all, fewer than half the number of horses in Australia today as at the end of World War 1 when the equine population peaked at 2.5 million - or one for every two people, with the great majority on farms.

My kingdom for a horseAccording to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, there are now, perhaps, 1.2 million horses (the estimates range from under a million to 1.5 million) - one for every 16 to 17 Australians. Only 20 percent of Australia's horses are on rural properties, and fully 30 percent of the total horse population is feral.

But here's the upside: while the number of horses on farms has declined sharply - by as much as a third since 1990 - to just 240,000, in the same period the number of horse studs has doubled, and the value of the horse industry to Australia's economy has surged to almost a billion dollars a year. Story end

Full story Issue 28 April/May 2003

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