Minnesota ranks 27th for number of horses in a state

Krishona Martinson and Ab Neu
University of Minnesota Extension

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) recently released their interactive 2017 Census of Agriculture data tool that includes county-based horse numbers. Based on their data, Minnesota ranks 27th in the United States for horse population, is home to 8,000 horse farms and 46,879 horses. A majority (96%) of farms have 1 to 24 horses on site. The top 10 Minnesota counties for horse population include:

Washington (2,466 horses)

Todd (1,879 horses)

Fillmore (1,691 horses)

Otter Tail (1,564 horses)

Stearns (1,490 horses)

Olmsted (1,476 horses)

Isanti (1,271 horses)

Wright (1,252 horses)

Hennepin (1,239 horses)

Scott (1,198 horses)

A 2017 American Horse Council (AHC) study found that 145,727 horses reside in Minnesota, ranking it 18th in the U.S. for the most populated horse state. Based on this, many ask why there is such a discrepancy between the USDA and AHC numbers.

The answer lies in how the data was collected and the organization’s goals. The USDA data is collected from “farms” and the USDA defines a farm as “any place that produces and sells at least $1,000 of an agricultural product (e.g. meat, milk, wool, eggs, honey, breeding or stud fees, etc.) in a given year”. This definition excludes recreational horses and many horses kept at boarding, training and riding facilities. Therefore, the USDA NASS likely underestimates the number of horses in a state or county, but the numbers are indicative of population trends.

On the other hand, the AHC numbers include all horses, regardless of use or farm/housing definition, as they serve all segments of the horse industry. However, both numbers can be useful to individuals when exploring business, hobby, or personal ventures. For more information on the impact of horses in Minnesota and the U.S., visit our website.

Minnesota ranks 27th for number of horses within a state, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.