MADRID – Dressage and jumping are the two most popular disciplines within equestrian sports, even transcending the Olympic Games, but they are also part of an entire industry worth more than 300 billion euros ($330 billion) and which provides two million jobs around the world.
The sport generates revenue in horse breeding, stable maintenance, equipment, animal nutrition, veterinary care and medication, among others.
The International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) says growth in the sector has been caused by rapid expansion in regions such as Asia, Africa and Latin America, where the number of events has doubled and the number of fans has grown to 750 million.
The president of the Madrid Horse Week organizing committee, Daniel Entrecanales, recognizes that at the industry level Spain is on a par with Germany or France but nevertheless is a leader in organizing equestrian events, hosting major tournaments despite its low number – just over 1,100 – of internationally registered riders.
In 2018, France had more than 5,000 riders registered to compete internationally, Germany had 3,743, slightly ahead of Italy and the United States, each of which has just over 3,000.
Entrecanales told EFE that the Madrid tournament, held this weekend at the Spanish capital’s IFEMA fairgrounds, had an economic impact of 32,572,350 euros, which, in turn, represented 56,419,988 euros in GDP spending and tax revenues of 6,447,035 euros.
For this reason, given the sector’s momentum in Spain, he has called for a greater institutional presence at competitions, as they have been “making an effort for seven years and have attracted 45,000 people this week.”
“We are very lucky to have Princess Elena, who is our honorary president, but I would have been very excited to have had the presence of both the current and previous (Madrid) mayors,” he added.
According to the latest study published by the Royal Spanish Equestrian Federation in 2012, the horse industry contributed 5.3 billion euros to the economy, along with 61,000 jobs and a 0.51 percent impact on GDP.
At times, the athletes themselves have to become entrepreneurs to face the challenge of competing at the highest level.
This is the case for Laura Renwick of Great Britain, who has a farm where she currently cares for 40 horses employing a team of about 10 people.
The rider confessed that it is a complicated situation because the investment required is very high and “unfortunately it is becoming a sport where only rich people can compete at the highest competitive level” due to the difficulty of having more than one horse with sufficient experience to reach the top competitive echelon.
“Madrid is the first World Cup event in which I have participated this season because I’ve been taking care of my business. It’s a lot of hard work – to compete and raise horses,” she told EFE, adding that “when you have a good performance, your work is rewarding.”