VERONA – The age-old passion for horses grips some 30 percent of Italian families, with a total of 3.2 million participants, according to a study by Fieracavalli-Nomisma on the occasion of the 121st edition of the international equestrian trade fair at the Veronafiere convention center.
It is a passion that has lasted beyond the industrial and digital revolutions. For sport or as a hobby, more often than for work, a total of 8 percent of the active population in Italy (18-65 years old, therefore not counting minors) got into the saddle during the year.
A peaceful army of equestrians with a demographic profile made up mainly of Generation X, university graduates, in northern Italy, with an average-to-high income, and above all with an almost unanimous preference for horseback riding and equestrian tourism, practiced in 90 percent of cases.
For each, the average expense for equestrianism is around 1,500 euros per year, due to the benefits expressed, which run from a sense of freedom to relaxation, from harmony to fun and commitment.
Even among those who don’t participate, the equestrian universe is viewed positively, with nearly half of Italians saying they would try the experience, especially those under age 35 (58 percent).
Horses, nature, and the world of food and wine make a winning combination for 2.8 million horse enthusiasts, who find their natural vocation in equestrian tourism.
Nine out of ten horse enthusiasts went horseback riding in the past year (35 percent regularly), mainly for two to three hours at a time (44 percent), but also for a half or whole day (26 percent), or for a weekend (3 percent), with average per-person spending of 150 euros per day. The preferred locations are forests (22 percent), followed by hills and meadows in the plains (20 percent) and the coast(14 percent).
In Italy, 5,000 companies and farms are directly connected to the business of horses, with 48,000 direct workers, of whom 19,000 are breeders.
There are 2,000 equestrian centers and 4,500 farm stays in Italy with structures dedicated to accommodating horses.