From the registered number of horses in Europe to estimations from different states of the real number of horses, EHN estimates that there are around 6 million horses in Europe.
The number of hectares dedicated for horses (grazing, production of horse food and other activities) is not clearly known. As the uses of horses are very different, from extensive breeding to urban equestrian centers, and from grassy lands to southern regions, the ratio surface needed per horse is very variable:1 horse uses from 0,75 ha to more than 2 ha. But considering the estimations from different states, EHN considers that at least 6 000 000 hectares are used forhorses in Europe, from which an important part is made up of permanent pastureland. In addition, horse paddocks do not require extensive use of pesticides orfertilisers, and support a wider variety of grasses and flora.
Considering the importance maintaining permanent pastures for biodiversity (also for the protection of water quality), and the interest in developing activitiesin rural areas of Europe which are positive from an environmental perspective, the horse sector is also an interesting issue for EU rural development and environmental protection.