The Thoroughbred Horse
by Mary Haley, Editor
The Thoroughbred horse is one of the most popular horse breeds in the racing world. Thoroughbreds are synonymous with horseracing and money.
The Thoroughbred horse originated in the 17th century from three horses brought from the Middle East to England. Three stallions, the Darley Arabian, the Godophin Arabian, and Byerly Turk, along with thirty to forty mares were brought to England and bred to form the horse we know today. Ninety-five percent of today’s Thoroughbred pedigrees trace back to the Darley Arabian.
Only the best offspring were allowed to continue to breed to build a fast horse. Often times owner’s did not even name their horses until they had proven themselves on the race track.
In America the first Thoroughbred horse was imported in 1730 and was named Bulle Rock. In Colonial America, Maryland and Virginia were the centers for breeding thoroughbreds.
A common mistake some people make is to refer to any purebred horse as a Thoroughbred. This is not an accurate statement. The Thoroughbred horse is a distinctive breed of horse.
Thoroughbred horses are listed in the group of horses known as “hot blooded” horses. This term refers to any horse breed that is bred for speed and agility.
Thoroughbred horses are among some of the most expensive horses in the world to own. One colt in Florida recently sold for 16 million dollars, and has yet to run a race. It fetched such a high price because reportedly it is descendent from two Kentucky Derby winners.
One of the main reasons why Thoroughbred horses are among the most expensive in the world is that owners of stallions cannot use artificial insemination of mares, like other breeds can. Each mating between a stallion and mare must be witnessed by a person. This means stallions can only service at most a couple of hundred mares a year, versus several thousand that would be possible through artificial insemination.
Thoroughbred horses aren’t only used for racing; their speed and agility make them valuable in other sports as well. These horses can be used in jumping contests, dressage, and polo contests.
Two of the most famous horses in history have been Thoroughbreds. Man O’ War and Secretariat, are each considered the greatest race horses of all time by their respective fans, having unprecedented numbers of wins.
Thoroughbred racehorses continue to grow in value as the popularity of horseracing grows. Next time you tune into watch the Kentucky Derby you’ll realize there is a lot more to these horses than what they show you on the track…
This article may be reprinted with permission so long as no changes are made to the text and the following credit appears: 2006-2008 Horse Resource Organization Information, products and resources related exclusively to horses. Author: Mary Haley.
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