How Much is a Banker Horse Worth?

Jeannette Beranger points out that a sad incident led to precise evaluation of the “value” of the Banker horses that attract millions of visitors a year to the islands off the eastern coast of the United States.

Freeze-branded Banker horse on Shackleford Banks (Flikr)

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy staffers Alison Martin, Steve Moize, and Jeannette Beranger headed to the North Carolina (United States) coast to bleed and evaluate Javas (ponies) as part of the breed recovery project. While in the area we took the opportunity to meet up with Carolyn Mason of the Society for the Shackleford horse to film Shackleford Banks horses for the Colonial Spanish gaited horse study we were working on with Mississippi State University. We had a great chance to film horses and visit with Carolyn to learn the latest with this population of horses. She spoke to us about an interesting bit of research that she did on the population, which is currently listed as Critical on the ALBC Conservation Priority List. The study came from an inquiry that Carolyn received from the local prosecutor who was trying to estimate the value of a Banker pony. The question arose through a case involving an individual who shot a wild horse further north. With the help of the statistics obtained from Carteret County Tourism Authority, Carolyn came up with some very interesting findings on how much a Banker horse is worth to the community:

– Visitors to the area annually: 2,500,000

– Horses are always within the top 3 reasons the visitors come to the county, so an average of 833,333 visitors come to see the horses

– The average visitor spends $50 for day trippers;$200 a day for overnighters: making the average $125/day/person

– $125/day times 833,333 visitors = $104,166,625 per year

– $104,166,625 divided by an average of 120 wild horses on the island = $868,055 per horse

– The answer to the question What is a banker horse in the wild worth? – It’s $868,055 (798,910 Euros) annually.

Take that number times the average life expectancy of around 18-20 years and that brings the sum to $15,624,990 – $17,361,100 (13-15 million Euros) per horse in their lifetime. We all hope that with those findings, the man who shot the horse might be in for quite a shock!

Jeannette Beranger, Research & Technical Programs Manager at The Livestock Conservancy,