Horse Facts

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Horse Breeds

Thoroughbred horses– The fastest and the strongest of their kind!

Before the invention of vehicles, horses were the means of travel. And if someone wanted to travel very fast on land, thoroughbreds got the job done. They were good at covering long distances within a reasonable amount of time which made them better competitors in horse racing. They are also known for being the horse bred which is most recognized and purchased in the world. On an average rate, about 118,000 thoroughbred foals are being registered annually around the whole world. As its name implies, it was the first pedigreed, or “thoroughbred” horse. Let us dig deep to find out why…what makes them special? From where do they come from?


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So, let us find out some thoroughbred horse facts through the following post!

Thoroughbreds – Back in time when they became first known to the world!

The Thoroughbreds can be linked back to the 17th century, where they are connected to three foundation stallion sires. The Godolphin Arabian, Byerly Turk, and the Darley Arabian.

  • Byerly Turk 

He was born in the 1680s. The owner of this stallion, Byerly Turk is the very first to find the first of the principle bloodlines. The horse was captured in battle in Hungary where the owner became interested in way Byerly Turks’ courage in battle.

  • Darley Arabian

was purchased from Syria. And it was a 4-year-old colt purchased by Thomas Darley and taken away to Yorkshire, where its’ owner home was located. It was mare Betty Leeds producing the very first of racehorses. The Darley Arabian was born in 1704.

  • Godolphin Arabian

This horse was imported to England in 1728 by Lord Godolphin of Cambridge It was originated in Yemen and given as a gift to the king of France along with some other horses. Then the horses were released. The Godolphin Arabian moved from hand to hand before finally settling at Lord Godolphin.

Then they were established in England.  James I and Charles I of England became the owners of these stallions. Then they were bred expecting a great outcome. The offspring of these sires resulted in the fastest on earth; thoroughbreds. Bulle Rock, by the Darley Arabian. Was the very first thoroughbred horse to set foot in America. Samuel Gist in 1757 imported him to the state of Virginia. Flat racing was the main reason for the development of the thoroughbreds. It was a popular sport during the 12th century.


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The jockey club is the thoroughbred registry club. The club is responsible for the names of the thoroughbreds. They have a few rules regarding that. The name shall not have offensive words, social slurs or racial words. Also, if the owner wants to name it after a famous person, the official consent from that person is required. The name cannot just have numbers, punctuations or symbols. And also, the horse cannot be named after a winning or a famous horse in the world.

The thoroughbred horse breeds

Thoroughbreds belong to the light horse breed. Typical uses of light breeds are for trail riding and leisure. The swiftness and agile nature make them strong enough to the racetrack. But also, to work in the ranch. There are 4 types of light breeds.

  1. Saddle type
  2. Stock type
  3. Hunter type
  4. Other types

The horses are classified according to their body type. Another type is chosen for the oddballs who do not exactly fit in. Usually, the color breeds are included in this. They might have a body type of a training horse type, but that doesn’t make them suitable for any of the three training groups. Or the other group can hold horses which belong to more than just one type. And I think you should be able to guess the type the thoroughbreds belong and yes you are correct. It is the hunter type. The horses made for sports.

The looks are not always deceiving…

Their colors range from black, brown to chestnut and bay. Sometimes they are with white markings permissible on the lower legs and the face. In very rare cases they are born in white color as well. They have a refined head. With a prominent neck and intelligent eyes. The body is long and sleek with long and strong legs. They are also composed of thick mane and tail. They have a long gap between their hind hip and hock.

This inserts a maximum trust during galloping. The leg expands to a maximum length due to the depth of the girth. When they reach the full-grown stage, thy stand between 15-17 hands in height. They weight around 1000 – 1200 pounds. These horses are hot blooded. Therefore, they are a very alert horse type. Thoroughbred hooves are made of the same protein as other horses; keratin. Their hind legs act as springs while racing.


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If we focus on the thoroughbreds, their physique can select them to the category of energetic and athletic horses. They have a well-balanced physique.  Due to this, they are always chosen first for the sport race competitions. And they are also the most popular breed among racers. They participate in jumping, events such as polo competitions and dressage except for racing. These horses are called “hot” horses which means they are stubborn and wild and which makes them unsuitable for the beginners.

Thoroughbred horse diet and health

Thoroughbreds tend to have a fast metabolism which makes food an essential requirement for them especially considering their size. A thoroughbred racehorse can consume 20 pounds of food or more, plus 15 gallons of water every day. Thoroughbred eats a lot during the day. Until they are about 5 months old, foals need to drink their mother’s milk. Around this time, horses begin to eat only grass, hay, and grain feed.

Moreover; thoroughbreds are subjected to full physical tests in horse racing. These horses are prone to low fertility rates, constipation, and bleeding lungs. Accident rates are also high in them. They have abnormally small hearts where an adults’ heart weighs around 1% of their total body weight and a small hoof-to-body-mass ratio. The heart rate reaches up to 200 beats per minute.

Even though their hearts are small, they can circulate blood to a rate of 284 liters per minute. During racing or general running, the spleen of the thoroughbreds introduces perfusion of oxygen-rich red blood cells into its bloodstream which in turn increases the red blood cell count from 40 to 65 percent of the total blood volume. This feeds the oxygen requirement needed by the horse to a very effective level.

The birth of a thoroughbred horse…

They usually have a pregnancy period of 11 months, but the diet and climate have an impact on the pregnancy time period of the mare. The newborn weighs around 30 kgs up to 55kgs. Then they go through a process called weaning after being nurturing by their dam for about six months. The weaning involves separating the foals from the mares. But also make sure that foals can stay with the other horses of their clan as well. They reach the maximum height at the age of two.

The prime racing age of thoroughbreds is from years 2-3. They are considered to be matured at an early age when compared with the other horse types. For example, the thoroughbred horses who compete in Triple Crown, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness are 3 years of age.

It is an expensive business you are stepping on!

Thoroughbred horse price is usually around $80000 to $1000000. But in 2006, the highest auction rate for a thoroughbred was set. To a price of $16,000,000, a two-year-old colt named The Green Monkey was sold. He was a descendant of the Northern Dancer. Thoroughbreds are cable of running 45 miles per hour on average. They can maintain this speed for about 250 miles. But they are able to gallop 40 mph for about 1 mile. In 2008 a horse race held in the U.S set the highest speed for a classic distance 1.25-mile race. The record belongs to a horse named Red Giant. It completed the race in 1.57.16. the race was held in a grass course at Santa Anika Park. These horses have a short racing life. Most highly graded races are open only to fillies and colts of ages 2 an 3.


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Interesting facts about thoroughbred horse racing…

Thoroughbreds hold most of the world records including the fastest speed achieved by a horse, the most expensive horse sold at an auction and also most numbers correctly identified by a horse in one minute which was a Guinness world record and the world records academy gave the horse the title World’s Smartest Horse. The owner of these titles is the Luke taken care of by the Karen Murdock.

The list does not end here. It goes on and on. For a horse, they do know how to make history!

A few famous thoroughbreds who made history

  • Synsonby was bred by Foxhall Keene. He has lost only two races in his lifetime.
  • Colin in 1908 won the English Epsom Derby. This horse was unbeatable during the racing career.
  • Exterminator, Sun Beau purchased him in 1905. He was known for breaking down at a race and being in third place for a while and becoming the proud winner.
  • Equipose is also known as the “Chocolate Soldier.” –This thoroughbred won the 1931 Preakness and the National Stallion Stakes at Belmont.
  • Citation was the first thoroughbred millionaire in history and a Triple Crown Winner. He died at the age of 25.
  • Native Dancer was known for his silver-gray coat. And won 21 of 22 races in his career. Alfred G. Vanderbilt was the owner of this horse.
  • Kelso – Horse of the Year 1960–1964. Won the Handicappers’ Triple Crown in 1961. The gelding earned $1,977,896 after eight seasons of 39 wins in 63 races.

Thoroughbred horses are found all over the world. These horses can be purchased by a common owner to a reasonable price as they are racing horses. The thoroughbred prices are quite expensive. But their prices vary depending on their bloodlines, performances and training.  Ex-racehorses tend to sell thoroughbreds to a lower price than the usual. But such kind of horses is kind of hard to put into racing at once because they’ve been off the track for a while. They need to be restrained, trained. But most of these horses are used as pleasure horses rather than competitors as they even have injuries sustained from previous races.

Who said maintaining a horse is easy?

There are stable fees, salaries which should be paid to the farm managers, grooms, and trainers. Then comes the food, which is a pretty high cost. Also, transportation of the horse costs a considerable amount of money. This is generally an expensive business.

Did you know?

There is something special about their birthdays. In the northern hemisphere, the birthday of the thoroughbred is considered as of January 1st. and in Southern hemispheres such as in countries like Australia and New Zealand, it is considered as August 1. This is to give the horse a full development in strength and ability. Breeders are pursued to have the foal around January first. But even if it is too late or before, the birthday does not change.


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Here is an interesting thoroughbred fact!

Secretariat, one of the history made thoroughbred horse owned a $6,080,000 at auction, having won the Triple Crown in 1973. Secretariat owns 16 of 21 races and broken 5 track records as well. But the most amazing fact is after his death the veterinarian discovered that it had a heart that was 3 times larger than the normal heart size of the thoroughbred.

The bitter truth

According to estimations. in 2007 about 120 000 horses were exported to Canada for slaughter. The slaughter was outlawed in many counties including the United States. After retirement, the thoroughbred’s horses are either abandoned, slaughtered or euthanized. This included 2/3 from the retired population. But some organizations have stepped forward to take care of these retired horses.


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So now you have reached the ending, even though it ended in a sad note, the legend created by the thoroughbred horses back then and the history they are writing right now will have a huge impact on the history of racing.

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