Horse Racing on Track

Our Impact

California’s robust equine industry is proud to support communities across California in countless ways.

The equine industry contributes billions annually to our state’s tourism industry and economy, and employs tens of thousands of workers. It also supports sustainable agriculture and enriches communities across California. Learn more about the equine industry’s impact on the state.

Economic Impact

From the direct impact of caring for California’s estimated 477,426 horses and spending on events and recreation, to the ripple effects on other sectors of the economy, the equine industry is an enduring economic driver for the state of California.


  • $11.6 Billion in total value to California’s economy annually
  • $2.5 Billion in economic value from the racing sector

Jobs & Labor

The equine industry is a major employer of California workers. Many backstretch workers are part of a multi-generation tradition among their families, and are able to provide their talent and skill to the industry, unmatched due to their deep care and familiarity with horses.


  • 132,496 jobs are supported by the horse industry.
  • 93,467 Californians directly employed by the industry across the state.
  • 36,890 workers are employed directly by the racing sector.

Recreation & Land Preservation

Recreational activities – including horseback riding lessons, trail riding, and more – foster individual relationships with horses and encourage the preservation of trails and public lands through associations that support these activities and their associated environmental conservation work.

  • 1.3 Million California households participate in trail riding.
  • 816,000+ California households took riding lessons in 2023.


The horse industry plays a significant role in preserving California land and supporting local, sustainable agriculture.


  • 410,000 acres of California land is owned or leased for horse-related uses.
  • 87% of California trail riders utilized public land.
  • 48% of California horse owners report owning or leasing a farm, barn, or stable.
  • 15-20 pounds of hay is consumed by horses per day, which is produced by local farms.
  • 8,000 tons of straw bedding is diverted from the landfill each year, repurposed for mushroom farms throughout the state.

Cultural Enrichment

Horse racing and horse sports are among the oldest and most celebrated sports in the world. Equestrians, workers, and fans alike are part of a long tradition with deep cultural ties, with those traditions passed down from generation to generation. Like, football, soccer, baseball, and basketball, horse racing brings together families and creates shared experiences that form strong ties within communities.

  • 4.1 Million households in California have a horse enthusiast in their home
  • 220,000 California residents volunteer their time for horserelated activities
  • 38% of participants in horse-related activities are under the age of 18

California’s equine culture is unique to that in other areas of the country in its inclusivity and accessibility to local communities of all ages, genders, and economic backgrounds.

The industry drives a significant amount of tourism to California through competitions, sporting events, recreational events and more. This supports local hospitality industries, including hotels, taxi drivers, restaurants, shops and small businesses.


  • $6.1 Billion in total economic value to California
  • $4.2 Billion in tourism spending on travel, dining, and lodging to participate and attend horse events.
  • $135 Million in horse racing purses, with a total handle of $3.2 Billion.

Equine Wellness

The equine industry provides home, quality care, and an active lifestyle to an estimated 477,426 horses in California throughout their lives. Tracks, owners, trainers, riders, veterinarians and and workers are all dedicated to ensuring horses are supported throughout their lives, on and off the track. 

A network of 123 animal welfare organizations across the state – including aftercare organizations, equine rescues, and equine sanctuaries – are dedicated to the rehabilitation, re-training, and/or retirement of California’s horses.

Learn more about how the industry supports the health and well-being of horses.

Learn More

Economic Impact of the Horse Industry in California, American Horse Council Foundation (2023)