One of the most famous horse breeds are the Thoroughbred. Although the term actually refers to any pure-bred horse, it technically refers to the Thoroughbred breed only, which is best known for its use in the horse racing industry. They are a ‘hot blooded’ horse, which means that they are agile, spirited, and speedy.

the race Thoroughbred
Thoroughbreds are used in horse racing

The Thoroughbred breed was first developed in England, in the 17th and 18th century. It was developed between a cross-breed of native mares and Arabian stallions. In fact, all modern Thoroughbreds can trace their pedigree roots to 3 stallions that were imported into the UK in the 17th and 18th century and to 74 foundation mares that were from English and Oriental (either Barb, Turkoman, or Arabian) blood. During the 18th and 19th centuries, this breed spread throughout the world. They were imported in 1730 to North America, and imported into South America, Australia, Japan, and the rest of Europe in the 19th century. Today, millions of Thoroughbreds exist all over the world, with over 118,000 foals registered annually.

A typical Thoroughbred horse ranges between 157 to 173 cm high. They are usually grey, black, chestnut, seal brown, or bay in colour. However, there are less common colours which are recognised in the USA such as palomino and roan. White is also very rare, and is a recognised colour. Their lower legs and face are marked with white, however the white will not usually appear on its body. There can be coat patterns (I.e. more than 1 colour on the body) such as Appaloosa or Pinto, however these are not recognised by the mainstream breed registries. Thoroughbreds which are considered of good quality have high withers, a chiselled head on a long neck, a short back, deep chest, good depth of hindquarters, long legs, and a lean body.

Regardless of when a horse is born, artificial birth dates have been set up to enable the standardisation of horse races and other competitions for horses according to certain age groups. Thoroughbreds that are born in the Northern Hemisphere are considered a year older on the 1st of January every year. Those born in the Southern Hemisphere turn 1 year older on the 1st of August.

canter Thoroughbred
A Thoroughbred canters

Thoroughbreds are usually used for racing, however they are also bred for other horseriding disciplines such as fox hunting, polo, dressage, combined training, and show jumping. They are also used for cross-breeding to create new breeds or improve existing ones. This cross-breeding has created several important breeds such as the Anglo-Arabian, Standardbred, and the Quarter Horse.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the use of Thoroughbreds racehorses which use maximum exertion, this has resulted in a high rate of health problems and accidents. Racing has been proven to have a higher fatality rate than any other legal sport. In addition, Thoroughbreds are prone to other health complications such as a small hoof to body mass ratio, abnormally small hearts, low fertility, and bleeding from the lungs.

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