The horse industry has never done a good job of tracking the number of equids that are in our country. There have been a variety of surveys by private, industry and governmental agencies over the years that have given us some interesting statistics. The latest is the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture that can be found at http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/.
We all probably know that the equine industry has changed quite a bit in the past two years, with recovering proceeding, albeit at a slow pace.
There really is no way to know how horses are in the United States, or how many people own more—or fewer—horses now than they did in 2012. While the competition horse industry seems to be recovering, breeding registrations are happy to be holding steady. Whether that is because people aren’t registering horses they breed or because the number of foals born to registered animals is down (or a combination of both) is impossible to know.
All we can do as an industry is take the numbers we have available and try to find the logic in them.
USDA Census of Agriculture Results
TYPE of EQUID20122007*2002
Horses & Ponies inventory3,621,3484,028,8273,644,278
Horses & Ponies Operations504,795575,942542,223
Mules & Donkeys inventory292,590283,806105,358
* note in the fall of 2007 the U.S. stopped allowing FDA meat inspectors to work in equine slaughter facilities, thus closing down the U.S. equine slaughter industry
On the slaughter export side, the USDA tracks the numbers specifically exported to Mexico for slaughter, but does not do that for Canada.
US to Mexico export for Dec. 4, 2014, From USDA
HorsesCurrent WkPrev WkCurrent YTDPrevious YTD
Breeding Females 241033,3203,571
Geldings ?? 12401,046 904
Burro/Mule/Pony 1 12782709
Total Horses 1,9882,880 104,509102,735