Horse in profile against a black backdrop. From

China’s Equine Industries in a Transitional Economy

Development, Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities

By Qingbin Wang and Yang Zou
Received: 1 April 2020; Accepted: 19 June 2020; Published: 24 June 2020

Note: We are posting the Abstract with a link to the full document in pdf format ( 14 pp).


China had the most horses in the world from 1961 to 2004 but, since the market-oriented economic transition started in the late 1970s, its horse population has declined significantly and steadily, from 11.50 million in 1978 to only 3.47 million in 2018.

While there are minimal studies on China’s equine industries in the literature, this paper reviews the development of China’s equine industries since 1949, identifies major factors contributing to the steady decline in its horse population since 1978, and discusses the challenges and opportunities for the development of China’s equine industries.

Empirical results suggest that the changes in China’s horse population since 1949 have been closely associated with its agricultural and rural development and policies, and the key factors contributing to the declining horse population since 1978 include agricultural mechanization, a steady decrease of the agricultural sector’s share in the GDP, urbanization, improvement in rural transportation with more motor vehicles, and decreased land availability for and the lack of economic returns from horses.

Together, such factors may continue to reduce China’s horse population, but, on the other hand, the rapid development in the tourism, recreation, and sport sectors may provide potential growth opportunities.

Moreover, China’s horse population is likely to be more concentrated in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, and the western Sichuan province, which have relatively low population density and high proportion of ethnic population with the tradition of horses in their cultural, religious, sport, and economic activities. At the same time, equestrian events and activities are expected to continue to increase at significant rates in and around large Chinese cities.

China anticipates a significant increase in horses used to supply pregnant mare’s urine for the menopausal drug market, along with horse milk, horse meat and other byproducts.

Open quote

As the economic and cultural exchange and collaboration between China and other nations continue to increase, many horse-related activities such as horse-assisted therapy and pregnant mare urine (PMU) for pharmaceutical products and medical treatments will likely be introduced to China and provide additional opportunities for China’s equine industries. (Sect. 5: Concluding Remarks).

Source: China’s Equine Industries in a Transitional Economy: Development, Trends, Challenges and Opportunities; by Qingbin Wang and Yang Zou; Published 24 Jun. 2020 (14 pp, pdf)

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Related Reading

Which Countries Have the Most Horses? »
The FAO Stat from 2014 reported there were around 60 million horses worldwide, or 1 horse per every 120 people.

Equestrian Market in China: A Fast and Furious Development »

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