Whether you work with horses for a living or are looking for equestrian escapes, America has plenty of room to roam on horseback.
But which states are ideal for equine enthusiasts?
To mark National Horse Protection Day on March 1, Lawn Love ranked 2023’s Best States for Horse Lovers.
We compared the 50 states based on 27 metrics, such as equestrian programs, horseback riding trails, horse shows, and museums. We also considered horses for sale, boarding facilities, veterinarians, trainers, and affordability.
Saddle up and see where your state stands in our ranking below.
In this article
See how each state fared in our ranking:
While fewer than 2 million U.S. households own horses, at least 38 million are home to horse enthusiasts. Some states, like California (No. 1), Florida (No. 3), and New York (No. 5) provide plenty of options for planning an equestrian vacation.
California gallops to the top of our ranking with a nearly 14-point lead ahead of our No. 2 state, Texas. The Golden State boasts the highest number of horse rentals, riding trails, camps, museums, and vacations.
Florida follows closely behind with a silver medal in Equestrian Activities. The Sunshine State hosts the most horse shows and competitions and offers abundant horse rentals, tours, and camps.
Thanks to high scores across the board, New York is another popular state for traveling hippophiles.
Horse ownership is a big (and often costly) responsibility. So, which states have the most resources available to equestrians?
Texas (No. 2) canters to the top with the most horseback riding lessons. The Lone Star State also takes the reins with the highest number of tack shops and rescues up for adoption, as well as plenty of horse veterinarians, trainers, and farriers.
With the prestigious horse breeding industry surrounding the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky (No. 4) boasts top Equine Access, with the most horse breeders, dealers, and horses for sale. Horse care is a bit more costly for those in the Bluegrass State. However, the most affordable states — Massachusetts (No. 26) and Connecticut (No. 28) — fall behind in Equine Access, Care, and Housing.
From Texas’ dude ranches to Kentucky’s historic attractions, both of these states are also great for planning an equestrian vacation.
Wrangling for resources
States with smaller populations land at the tail end of our ranking, including Hawaii (No. 46), Alaska (No. 47), West Virginia (No. 48), and Mississippi (No. 49), alongside Delaware in last place.
While some of these states may pose semi-challenging environments for horses, they each fell to the bottom due to an overall lack of equestrian attractions and equine resources.
Behind the ranking
For each of the 50 states in the U.S., we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below.
We then grouped those factors into six categories: Equestrian Education, Equestrian Activities, Equine Access, Equine Housing, Equine Care, and Care Affordability.
Next, we calculated weighted scores for each state in each category.
Finally, we averaged the scores for each state across all categories.
The state that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the state with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 50).
- The “Worst” among individual factors may not be 50 due to ties among states.
- “Equestrian Programs” includes the following categories:
- Camping With Horses and Horseback Adventure Travel
- Equine-Assisted Services
- Dude Ranches
- Riding Lessons
- Interact With a Horse Programs (e.g., “Meet an Arabian Horse” and “Meet a Morgan” events)
AllTrails, American Paint Horse Association, ehorses, Equine.com, Equine Info Exchange, Equitours, Here for Horses, Homes for Horses Coalition, Horse Rookie, National Center for Education Statistics, NewHorse.com, The Real Yellow Pages, TripAdvisor, United Horse Coalition, United States Polo Association, United States Pony Clubs, and US Equestrian Federation
Local tips: Horse hotspots
Looking for a fun place to horse around? Check out some top destinations for horse buffs in the slideshow below.
Why does Lawn Love care about the Best States for Horse Lovers? Grass is an essential component of equine diets.
If you choose to adopt a horse and plan on keeping it in your yard, make sure to check for local zoning restrictions and that your pasture has horse-friendly grass types for safe foraging.
Main photo credit: iStock