A SURVEY of peninsula horse owners has found that 100, picked at random, own 320 horses between them.
They told the Mornington Peninsula Horse Owners Association that they collectively spent about $12,800 a week on their horses – or a staggering $665,000 a year.
“Multiply that number of owners by 10 – which would probably well understate the correct number of peninsula horse owners – and suddenly there are 3200 horses and expenditure becomes a very meaningful $6.65 million going into the local economy annually,” peninsula horse enthusiast Geraldine Chapman said.
She thinks the real figure may be higher.
Ms Chapman manages Mornington Peninsula Horse Owners on Facebook, which has more than 1800 members with two or three new members joining daily.
She said horse owners costs included vet and instructor’s bills, riding equipment, physiotherapy, transport, food, medicines, club memberships and registrations.
With a background working with the Australian Horse Industry Council and Victorian Horse Council, Ms Chapman said she was interested in finding out more about the local horse industry and, last year, conducted a 10-question survey of horse owners.
“The data gave us a window into the possible economic benefits of horse activities to the [Mornington Peninsula] shire,” she said.
“Further work needs to be done now to get a more accurate picture of the numbers of horses, people involved and activities they take part in.”
The snapshot information from the survey can be found at the Horses on the Mornington Peninsula Facebook page.
“After the disastrous equine influenza outbreak of 2007 I realised there was no way to communicate with local horse owners as a group in the event of an emergency,” she told The News.
“In 2010 I saw that Facebook Groups had exactly what was needed to facilitate communication with local communities and I set up two other local horse owner groups.”
Later, realising the need for a centralised resource for horse riders and owners on the peninsula, she created peninsulahorse.com.au
The aim is to provide a foundation for horse owners, giving them information on welfare and care, as well as horse management, activities and laws relating to the keeping of horses.
“Many of the problems facing horse owners are self-made,” she said. “Owners may have a lack of knowledge about caring for their animals.
“Others complain about their interaction with trail riders or cars or the lack of signs on riding trails.”
The recently built Riding Trails on the Mornington Peninsula section of the peninsulahorse.com.au site, compiled by veteran peninsula All Trail Horse Riding Association member Anne-Marie Alderson, has been popular, she said.
It features pages and maps detailing dedicated horse riding trails and details about what can be seen on the trail and the location of accessible float parking sites.
Another feature of the site is a reporting system for horse accidents. “In 2014 a survey undertaken by the AHIC showed that 38 per cent of horse owners said they had experienced serious accidents involving their horses in the past year,” Ms Chapman said.
“That made me curious about what was happening in my own neck of the woods so I created a short survey that people can fill in if they have an accident.
“Over time I hope it will give us a picture of what is happening and help identify any trends or specific black spots that we can work towards making safer for everyone.”