The world’s ‘horsiest’ nations – population trajectories

The numbers of horses in China and the USA have changed dramatically over the last 50 years. The horse population in the USA is over 4-times larger than it was at the beginning of the 1960s. China’s horse population of around 6.5 million almost doubled during the 1960s and 70s but has returned to historic lows this century.

mongolia-mexico graphicWhat about the world’s ‘horsiest’ nations? Are their horse populations changing too?

Mexico, the nation ranked 3rd after the USA and China for its almost 6.5 million horses, has had a very stable population of horses for the last 40 years after a substantial increase during the 1960s* (see graphic below).

In Mongolia, my favourite horse-nation for having 3-times more horses per person than any other nation, the horse population has varied little, temporarily, and remains similar to what it was 50 years ago.

There is no evidence for a substantial change in the relationship between horses and people in Mexico or Mongolia, the world’s ‘horsiest’ nations, … yet.

Compared to China and the USA, therefore, the world’s horsiest nations have horse populations that have changed very little or only in small ways.

Mexico and MongoliaAre China and the USA, amongst the world’s most populous and affluent nations, exceptional? Have such dramatic changes in our relationship with horses occurred in other nations?

Sierra Leone, Uruguay, Cuba, and Panama are also interesting, like Mexico, for having both large numbers of horses per person and per unit land area. There are also large numbers of horses per person in Iceland, and El Salvador is also densely populated with horses.

I will investigate the trajectories in the horse populations of these nations next.


* Data come from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Mexico has not provided an official estimate of its nation’s horses since 1984. Its horse numbers for 1963-67 and since 1984 are FAO estimates. Mongolia, however, has provided official estimates since 1961.

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