2023’s Best States for Horse Lovers

A woman wearing a helmet smiles while petting the horse she is riding A woman wearing a helmet smiles while petting the horse she is riding

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

State rankings 

See how each state fared in our ranking:

Infographic showing the Best States for Horse Lovers, a ranking based on equestrian programs, horseback riding trails, horse shows, museums, and more
Note: For presentation purposes, not all ties may be displayed for some metrics above.

The upshot

Touristy trots

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. 

Comfy cowpokes

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.

Two equestrians ride their horses on the beach along the ocean at sunset
California: Trek through Yosemite on horseback or soak up a beautiful sunset while riding along the Pacific Coast in Los Angeles. Explore California’s cowboy history at The Cowboy Museum in Oakdale, or tour the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center in Pomona. 

Photo Credit: Will Keightley | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
Two horses gallop while each carrying a polo player
Florida: Home to hundreds of horse farms and facilities, Ocala is stuck in an ongoing rivalry with Lexington, Kentucky, over the title of “Horse Capital of the World.” 

Canter along the Ocala One Hundred Mile Horse Trail. Attend a competition at the World Equestrian Center, Florida Horse Park, or HITS (Horse Shows in the Sun). Find unique products at the Tack Shack of Ocala, and end your day with a meal at Horse & Hounds.

Wellington is a top winter equestrian destination, home to Wellington International and the National Polo Center.

Photo Credit: Henry | Flickr | CC BY 2.0
A group of horses and riders with brightly colored gear race around the track at the Kentucky Derby
Kentucky: Go camping in Lexington at Kentucky Horse Park, an equine theme park with museums, horse shows, and riding opportunities. Book a farm tour, or get a behind-the-scenes look at horse health care by visiting the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute

Louisville has its own appeal to horse lovers, being home to the Kentucky Derby and over 500 fiberglass horse statues.
Photo Credit: GPA Photo Archive | Flickr | CC BY 2.0
A statue of a horse and jockey welcome visitors to Saratoga Springs
New York: Saratoga Springs has been an equestrian destination for over 160 years. Learn about horse history at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

If you’re not interested in horse racing, go for a ride at Saratoga Lake Equestrian Center. There are also plenty of opportunities to explore the Adirondacks and Catskills on horseback. 

Photo Credit: Peter | Flickr | CC BY 2.0
A cowboy rides a horse while shepherding along a group of longhorn cows in Fort Worth, Texas
Texas: Learn about English- and Western-style riding, and take off through the Texas Hill Country at an equestrian lodge. Located in Bandera, the self-proclaimed “Cowboy Capital of the World,” the Frontier Times Museum and Bandera General Store are filled with Old West charm. 

The Lone Star State is also full of fun dude ranches for those looking for some rustic relaxation. 

Photo Credit: Miguel | Pexels

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.

Need help with reseeding your pasture or removing dangerous weeds? Call on a local Lawn Love crew to help tame your yard. 

Main photo credit: iStock

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.