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How many horses are there in the EU?

How many horses, ponies, donkeys and mules are there in the EU? Where are they? What are they used for, and how are they kept?

World Horse Welfare and Eurogroup for Animals, at the request of the European Commission, have released a report "Removing the Blinkers" exploring the numbers, uses, and economic impact of equines in the EU, and revealing a number of administrative and welfare issues.

According to this report the question "is one that has proven almost impossible to answer".  Estimates vary widely and the report highlights how difficult it is both to measure the raw numbers and to account for the different leisure, sport, agricultural and other sectors, despite Commission regulations throughout the EU requiring all kept equidae to be individually identified.

Taking the average of a number of estimates they report that France has the highest equid population (1m), with the UK (~800,000) and Germany (~500,000) coming respectively 2nd and 6th in headcount.