Passion for horses grips 3.2 million people in Italy

Around 8% of population get into the saddle

(ANSA) - Verona, November 7 - The age-old passion for horses grips some 30% 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 centre.
    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% 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% 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 "non users" the equestrian universe is viewed positively, with nearly half of Italians saying they would try the experience, especially those under age 35 (58%).
    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 addicts" went horseback riding in the past year (35% regularly), mainly for two to three hours at a time (44%), but also for a half or whole day (26%), or for a weekend (3%), with average per-person spending of 150 euros per day.
    The preferred locations are forests (22%), followed by hills and meadows in the plains (20%) and the sea (14%).
    Equestrian tourism is complementary with other vacation formats where stops for food and wine and moments of relaxation in wellness centres can't be missed.
    It's actually the combination with food and wine that is a must in added services, with 46% of tourists responding that during their most recent excursion they tried local products or tasted wines.
    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 centres and 4,500 farm stays in Italy with structures dedicated to accommodating horses.
    A total of 510,000 animals in the taxonomic family of Equidae are registered in Italy, and not all are horses.
    In the total there are also horse "cousins" such as donkeys (89,000), mules (7,000), and even more exotic "relatives" such as zebra (140).
   

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