June 5, 2018

Survey Says… Over 500 people share their thoughts on critical issues facing the horse industry

The results of the MD Horse Community Survey are in.  The MHC will be using these results to inform its strategic planning process and will share results of specific items over the next several months.

Designed to collect information from all segments of the equine industry/horse community, the survey asked questions about personal and industry-wide challenges, MHC benefits, communications and programs, as well as basic demographics. The survey was available from April 17, 2018, to May 5, 2018, and was completed by 625 respondents representing almost every Maryland county, riding discipline, and member organization. 

We asked respondents to tell us what they believe will be the most critical issues facing the MD horse industry/equestrian community in the next five years. Over 500 people (n=506) responded.  Each response was categorized and tallied, then named to represent eleven overall themes.

The graphic shows each theme sized in proportion to the number of times it was mentioned by respondents.


Recorded 247 times, the issue of land was clearly the biggest concern. Respondents listed loss of space to ride and keep horses, development, land use and preservation, access to trails, and the rising costs of land. 

Welfare took second place in this survey with 118 comments related to neglect, slaughter, unwanted horses, the increased need for rescues and owner education, end-of-life options, and general welfare.  

Other themes included:

Decreased Interest in the Industry (84)

Costs / Finances (62)

Horse Overpopulation (47)

Regulations (45)

Business Issues (32) – labor and taxes the highest at 11 and 6, respectively

Safety (30) – split almost evenly between hunters and disease outbreaks

Racing (22)

Environment / Farm Stewardship (17)

Other (9)

Responses were separated to determine if MHC members and non-members had different opinions about these issues. Non-members listed rising costs in general, lack of interest in the industry, transportation regulations, and welfare (non-specified) more times than members.  MHC members, however, cited more specific welfare concerns, such as access to euthanasia, as well as zoning regulations, labor issues, and the costs of keeping horses and welfare initiatives.  All other issues were identified at similar rates across the groups.   

If you have any questions about these results, contact Jennifer Purcell at jennifer@mdhorsecouncil.org.