To obtain information on the types of Australian horses, how they are kept and their activities.Methods
An invitation to participate in an opt-in, internet-based survey was sent to 7000 people who had registered an email address to receive information from the Australian Horse Industry Council Inc.Results
There were 3377 (48%) useable responses from owners of 26,548 horses. Most horses were kept on small properties (usually 2–8 ha) in paddocks in rural areas of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Most horses were female or geldings and the most common of 54 different activities was breeding. Owners reported 19,291 horses were used in different activities and 6037 (23%) horses were not kept for any stated purpose or activity. Owners used an average of 1.95 horses in 2.9 different types of activities. The most common of the 43 breeds were Thoroughbred, Australian Stock Horse and Australian Quarter Horse. Only 1% of the total numbers of Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds in this survey were used in horse racing, indicating there is a demand for these breeds in non-racing activities. Microchip was the most favoured method of horse identification and 36% favoured compulsory registration of horses. Most respondents reported owning some other animal species.Conclusions
There is a wide variation in horse breeds used in different activities by Australian horse owners. There are regional differences in various management systems. There needs to be considerable improvement in the collection and recording of information to improve the validity and reliability of horse industry data.