The equine industry is the second largest industry in Pennsylvania. Horse and harness racing are major parts of the industry however, there are many pleasure and draft horses throughout Pennsylvania.

According to an economic impact study conducted in 2003, the equine industry of Pennsylvania (PA) is the second largest animal agricultural industry in PA and directly accounts for over $10 billion of economic activity for Pennsylvania’s economy. There are currently 216,000 horses, mules, donkey and burros raised on 31,000 different locations across Pennsylvania. Equine owners devote 1.14 million acres of land in Pennsylvania for equine purposes with associated assets totaling nearly $8.27 billion.

Environmental Stewardship

Penn State Extension has significant information for owners of farms with horses. The environmental stewardship section includes information covering:

  • Short courses
  • Nutrient management
  • Manure management
  • Best Management Practices (BMP)
  • Documenting Pasture and nutrient management systems

If you have animals on your farm, you may be required to file and maintain a nutrient management plan and the information contained here will be of assistance toward that goal.

Horse Facility Design and Construction

A well-designed facility will save time and money due to ease of movement of animals and ventilation and manure management will help reduce diseases and accidents causing injury to your horses. The extension site for horse facility design and construction provides details for:

  • Riding arenas
  • Horse stables
  • Horse stable engineering
  • Horse stall design
  • Horse stable flooring materials and drainage
  • Horse stable ventilation
  • Fire safety in horse stalls
  • Riding arena footing material selection and management
  • Horse stable manure management
  • Fence planning for horses
  • Temperature and humidity in indoor riding arenas during cold weather
  • Horse arena dust measurements
  • Horse stable and riding arena resources
  • Horse manure characteristics
  • Horse facility temperature and humidity during winter months

Conducting the research of the information contained in this section will provide a wealth of information when designing or remolding your facility. Your goal should be healthy and comfortable horses and this information should provide the steps to achieve this goal.

Pastures and Forages

The bulk of the necessary diet and nutrition for horses may come from pasture and/or forage. Having well-maintained pastures will reduce feed costs however, you must be aware of any toxic plants that may be in your pasture or forage. Having a good mixture of warm and cool season grasses should help maintain horse health. The pastures and forages web site will provide valuable information covering:

  • Pasture grasses and forages
  • Cool season perennial grasses for horse pastures
  • Pasture evaluation
  • Weeds and toxic plants
  • Management


The health of your horses is critical to the enjoyment and future of your horses. There are several diseases that greatly impact your horse’s health and one of the most important is West Nile Encephalitis which is carried by and transmitted by mosquitoes. Eliminating and long-standing water is the first step in controlling this disease. Parasites are another important consideration and the horse may acquire these from the soil in your pasture. By reviewing the information contained in this site, you can recognize and control health issues before or early in their development.

Economic Impact and Population Study

If you are considering entering the equine industry, you should review the impact study conducted by Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. This study reviewed the race horse industry and the characteristics and demographics of the entire industry. The full report is also found on this site.

Environmentally Friendly Farm Program

You may consider participating The Environmentally Friendly Farm Program. The program is a voluntary and the application and assessment guidelines are found within this site.

Parasite Management

Parasite management

is critical to horse health and is usually controlled though a regular de-worming schedule. However, Penn State Extension is promoting a whole farm approach to parasite management. By participating in this program you will be better informed concerning parasite reduction.


The nutrition of your horses is a critical aspect of horse husbandry. The site will outline the feed and nutrition requirements of your horses and will inform you about how to analyze your feed and forage sample to provide a balanced diet for horses.


Any horse transported across state boarders must be identified and carry an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documents. There are several programs you should consider even if you are not transporting horse across state lines. These include:

  • Implanting a microchip
  • Equine identification project
  • USDA Animal Disease Traceability Program

The implantation of a microchip will help identify your horse if it should get out of your enclosure and lost and the disease traceability program will provide valuable information for your disease management.

If you are considering boarding horses the Agricultural Alternatives: Boarding Horses publication will provide information covering the start-up and maintenance of the business. You will also be informed of the laws that will impact your business.

By reviewing the information contained within this site, you will be much better prepared when establishing your equine business or will be better prepared for issues that may arise in your existing business.

Download Publication

Equine (PDF)

Article Details



This publication is available in alternative media on request.