Spatial Disjunction of the Equine and Bovine Populations of Florida

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Spatial Disjunction of the Equine and Bovine Populations of Florida
Selover, Michael
Comenetz, Joshua ( Mentor )
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Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
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Spatial Disjunction of the Equine and Bovine Populations of Florida

Michael Selover


The objective of this research is to highlight the spatial concentration of the horse industry in Florida, specifically

in relation to the American Quarter Horse (AQH). This research will show that as the second half of the

twentieth century progressed, the once widespread horse population in the state of Florida has migrated into a

group of counties centered around Marion County, the hub of the equine industry for the state (FDACS 2003).

This project focuses on the American Quarter Horse because the breed is the most populous in the state, as well

as nationwide, and has the closest ties to Florida's agricultural history. The value of this research is found in the

tens of thousands of Floridians employed in the equine or allied industries and in the large economic impact

that Florida horsemen have on the state (FDACS 2002, 2003). This project is a starting point for further research

on the economic, agricultural, and social impacts of the industry.


The horse was a mode of transportation for Floridians at the turn of the twentieth century. The American

Quarter Horse was the choice of the cattle and equine industries for its innate "cow-sense" and speed over

short distances. The name Quarter Horse is derived from its reputation as the fastest horse over a quarter mile.

This use is shown by the percentage of these horses identified as working horses (statewide over 94%) in the

earlier half of the century (AQHA 2001). As the development of the breed progressed nationwide a breed registry

was formed, now known as the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). This group maintains breeding

records, racing statistics, and other pertinent information associated with the horses and their owners.

This organization is equivalent to the Jockey Club of New York, which has been maintaining this manner

of information on the Thoroughbred horse since 1894.


The data for this research is all publicly available and was obtained directly from the AQHA, its state affiliate

the Florida Quarter Horse Association, the USDA via the Census of Agriculture, and other agencies involved

with tracking equine and agricultural information. The majority of this data (all but one source) was obtained

in digital format and is count or survey data. Quality issues with the data may include phrasing and interpretation

of the survey, accuracy of responses obtained from the public, data entry in the office processing the responses,

and any methodology used in the count or census process. Data involving non-human populations prior to 1960

were based on estimates, and the methodology used has not been made available or is unknown at this time.

This data does not appear to be illogical at face value, nor does it conflict with any information otherwise

obtained. Nevertheless, because the method is uncertain, the data prior to 1960 is used for reference only and is

not a basis for any conclusions drawn here.


The research hypothesis is one of association. If the primary function of the horse in Florida remains the

ranching application evidenced in the first half of the century, then the horse population, especially that of the

AQH, will migrate south in the state as the cattle industry has done over the same time period. Factors that will

be looked into are composition of the horse population on a breed basis, composition of the horse population on

a usage basis, and the locations of both horse and cattle populations in the state on a county-by-county

basis. Human demographics will also be evaluated as both horses and cattle require large areas of land, and

both large populations of people and large populations of horses and cattle are unlikely to occupy the same

space. For this paper, the preceding assumption is limited by the coastal nature of Florida, where counties such

as Palm Beach have vast interiors away from the coast that have very few inhabitants. At the county level this

cannot be taken into account, and since there is no data available at a finer scale such as ZIP code or census tract,

it cannot be directly investigated.


Each data set was entered or converted into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, where each variable was checked

for completeness and data quality issues. The dataset was then prepared for entry into an ArcGIS database

and joined to a base map of Florida counties. Maps were generated for variables such as human population,

horse population, change in population over time, horse usage, and cattle population by county. Current horse

and ranch populations were divided into areas of similar characteristics based on human population,

horse population, change in both those populations, and proximity to a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

These areas were then mapped and overlaid, with the objective of either supporting or refuting the hypothesis.

For this portion of the project, high and low are defined as above or below median and are referenced by Figures

1 through 10. The Horse and Ranch Areas of Florida are shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2. Counties shown in

Horse Area 1 are those with the highest concentration of horses (Figure 3), and mostly have high rates of

horse population increase (Figure 4). These counties are also areas of comparatively high human population

growth rate (Figure 5), and are within or adjacent to an MSA. Horse Area 1 can also be described as the base for

the horse industry in Florida as shown in Figure 6. Logically, the area where horses are bought and sold in the

state can be viewed as the industrial base. This area is still primarily agricultural, centered on horses and timber,

with some exceptions. Alachua County is highly reliant on the University of Florida, while Hillsborough County has

a strong and varied economic center. It is also the only county in the area with nearly one million people.

Although not bordering the area, Suwannee County can also be considered a part of Horse Area 1. It exhibits

every characteristic of the area in terms of horse population and human population, but lacks adjacency to an

MSA. Horse Area 2 is made of those counties with high horse populations, high horse increase, and low

human population growth. This area is coastal and characterized by high human population density near

the shoreline, with decreasing density as you move inland. This area has strong urban centers and

economies, leading to a more recreational than industrial horse use (AHC 1996). These two areas are considered

to be independent of each other since there are few links within the industry. Horse Areas 3 and 4 are delineated

by the addition of historical agricultural criteria. Horse Area 3 is defined as those counties high in horse

population, with high proportions of AQH (Figure 7 and Figure 8), high human population growth, and no historical

tie to the ranching industry. This area shows a strong horse population used much like that of Horse Area 2,

but without the urban core. This is a region with strong recreational horse usage and no historic basis for

horse presence outside of transportation (AHC 1996, BEBR 2003, FDACS 2002). Horse Area 4 contains counties

low in horse population, low in American Quarter Horse population, and with historical ties to ranching.

These counties have above median cattle populations, and except for Manatee County, are reliant on cattle

for agricultural income. This is the region where one would expect to find high numbers of horses, especially

the American Quarter Horse (AQHA 2001). The Ranch Areas (Figure 2) are set forth on the basis of

agricultural production. Area 1 is made up of five counties with the highest proportion of cattle or ranching

(BEBR 2003, Figure 9). Area 2 is any other county with more than 50% of its agricultural product based in cattle

or ranching (BEBR 2003). Area 3 includes those counties that had 50% of its agricultural product in cattle at the

start of the twentieth century, as estimated by the Florida Department of Agriculture (FDACS 2002). For the

most part, these counties (Marion and Palm Beach Counties) have converted their land use to horse or

citrus production (FDACS 2002, 2003, Figure 10).

Figure 1

The Horse Areas of Florida


1 Se TfeeI

- 4

Figure 2

The Ranch Areas of Florida




Figure 3

Horse Population
by Florida County, 1997

I 4- 100

= 11a11 - 17205

Figure 4

Change in Horse Population
by Florida County, 1982 - 1997


_. __ 01 tOl 2u,

Percent Change in Population
by Florida County,
In Pietnt
EI--III c1-cI
t- loo I - ='DO 0

am I. - I Di 8

Horses Sold
in Florida Counties, 1997

* 3,000
* 100 to 900
[- Fewer than 100
Total sold: 8,200

Map Copyright 2002 Joshua Comenetz
Based on 1997 Census of Agriculture Data

Figure 7

Quarter Horse Population
by Florida County, 2000

0 - IB0
| |01 - 301

WI3 -4372

Figure B

Change in Quarter Horse Population
by Florida County, 1980 - 2000


Figure 9

Cattle Distribution
by Florida County, 1997

In Thousands

0- i
I5- -2o0

Figure 10
Change in Cattle Distribution
by Florida County, 1982 - 1997

- Q0C0 . mu,


If the hypothesis expressed were true, one would expect the horse areas of Florida to neatly overlay the cattle

areas of Florida. This is not the case at all, as the horse areas of Florida are found a great deal north of the

cattle areas. In Horse Area 4, the ties to ranching and current cattle populations would suggest a greater need

for horses and American Quarter Horses specifically, but neither is found here. The hypothesis is not supported

by the data, implying that there are other forces at work here. Ranching has become less dependent on the horse

in the last century, and horses have become more a recreational hobby than industrial necessity. Another factor

that should be looked into is the gravitational effect that Ocala and Marion County have on the industry as a whole

in this state. The large-dollar farms and large-scale operations all are found either here or just over the border in

a neighboring county, thus pulling the industrial focus there regardless of the population dynamics found elsewhere

in the state. This may have either forced the industry to conform or just made locating there an easier solution.

This does not, however, account for the strong populations found in south Florida, although the financial well-being

of an operation there may be less tied to viable product than to the condition of the economy as a whole. It

is speculated that horses in this area are more a hobby than an industry, though there are members of the

racing community who would certainly disagree. All told, the region of Florida with strong cattle and

ranching industries has a lower number of horses overall and a lower than average number of American

Quarter Horses. Conversely, the area of Florida with the strongest horse industry has fewer cattle.


1. American Horse Council (AHC). 1996. Economic Impact of the Horse Industry in the United States. Volumes

II and IV. Compiled by Barents, LLC and published by The AHC Press, Washington, DC.

2. American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). 2001. The Florida Quarter: Expansion in the Sunshine State.

Table 5.2. Printed by the AQHA, Amarillo, Texas.

3. Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR), University of Florida. 1996. Florida Statistical Abstract

-- 1995. Table 1.19. Data source cited as "General Population Characteristics of Florida," Census Publication: 1990

CP-1-11. Published by University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

4. Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR), University of Florida. 2003. Florida Statistical Abstract

-- 2002. Table 1.15. Data source cited as "Florida Population: Census Summary 2000"

prod/cen2000/notes/cqr-fl.pdf Published by University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

5. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). 2003. The Florida Horse

Industry. Pamphlet distributed 1999-2003.

6. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). 2002. 2002 Annual Report.

Tallahassee, FL.

7. National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), 1999. Entrant Profiles -- Southeast. Compiled by Barents, LLC

and published by the NRHA, Oklahoma City.

8. National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA). 1998. Appendix Quarters, Breeders, and Owners.

Compiled from NTRA/QH racing entries for 1997 NTRA Annual Meeting. Published by NTRA, New York.

9. National Quarter Horse Registry, et al (NQHR). 1993. Usage Standards for Southern Horses. Journal

printed 1993 for EQUUS Magazine, number 241, and pages 148 through 202.

10. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 1982. Statistical Breakout for Florida. Compiled from the

1982 Census of Agriculture. Table 14, page 363. Table 18, page 401.

11. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 1997. Statistical Breakout for Florida. Compiled from the

1997 Census of Agriculture. Table 14, page 341. Table 18, page 393.


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