BCTC Equine History and Economics | BCTC

BCTC Equine History and Economics

In the fall of 2006, BCTC Equine - then known as the North American Racing Academy (NARA) - was officially launched by Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Designed as a jockey school and modelled after existing jockey schools overseas, NARA was uniquely focused on the training and preparation of professional jockeys.    

In 2011, a process was begun to diversify NARA from being a jockey school into a full-scale equine industry career and technical training program and was renamed in 2021 to BCTC Equine to reflect the program’s wider scope. 

Today, BCTC Equine remains as the first and only accredited community college-based equine program of its type in the U.S.  BCTC Equine is focused on working with equine industry employers on addressing their workforce needs by preparing students for the widest variety of career pathways across all equine industry breeds and disciplines.

Economic Impact of the Horse Industry 

As a large, economically diverse industry, the United States horse industry contributes significantly to the American economy. The following statistics are from the American Horse Council Foundation’s 2017 National Economic Impact Study.

The horse industry contributes approximately $50 billion in direct economic impact to the U.S. economy, and has a direct employment impact of 988,394 jobs. Additionally, the industry itself contributes $38 billion in direct wages, salaries, and benefits.

From those direct effects, the horse industry’s contribution ripples out into other sectors of the economy. Adding these ripple effects results in an estimate of the total contribution of the horse industry to the U.S. economy of $122 billion, and a total employment impact of 1.7 million jobs.

In Kentucky

The equine industry is a vital contributor to the economy of the Bluegrass region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  In 2012, a survey was conducted for the state of Kentucky that provided statistics verifying the impact of the equine industry on the state. There are approximately 242,400 horses in Kentucky, residing on approximately 35,000 equine operations. The total value of Kentucky’s equine and equine-related assets in 2012 was $23.4 billion. The total of all sales and income for equine operations in 2011 was approximately $1.1 billion, and total equine-related expenditures by equine operations was approximately $1.2 billion.

Other key industry statistics and economic indicators

Estimated Number of Horses in the U.S.: 7.2 million

Estimated Number of Horses by Activity
Activity Number of Horses
Recreation 3,141,449
Showing 1,227,986
Racing 1,224,482
Working 537,261

Land Use by the Equine Industry:

  • 32 million acres of land owned.
  • 49 million acres of land leased for horse-related uses.