An overview of thoroughbred horses

| March 12, 2019

The Thoroughbred first came about in Britain over the 17th and 18th centuries, which was sparked by an increasing interest involved in racing. The Thoroughbred pedigree is associated with bloodlines from three key Arabian stallions. None of these were ever raced. The majority of the Thoroughbred genes come from just 31 original ancestors, with all of them descending from the 3 Arabian stallions. 

All Thoroughbreds are highly energetic and athletic. They are also the more popular breed when it comes to horse competitions and these are the horses that dominate when it comes to the world of horse racing, familiarise yourself with common horse racing terms to gain a deeper understanding of the sport. The Thoroughbreds are also the best competitors when it comes to dressage, show jumping, as well as eventing. They are typically known as “hot” horses, which means they are extremely energetic. These types of horses are also usually difficult to manage and handle, which means they are not usually suitable horses when it comes to beginners. 

Thoroughbreds have long legs, with a sleek and long body. They also have straight profiles and finely chiseled heads, which lacks the Arabian dish associated with their ancestors. The bloodlines over the years have crossed with a variety of other warmbloods which has resulted in newer breeds along with making improvements along the way to the existing ones. A few of the breeds which they influence include the Anglo-Arabian horse, the Standardbred, and the Quarter Horse. 

The Scientific Classification

–                 Kingdom: Animalia

–                 Class: Mammalia 

–                 Phylum: Chordata

–                 Order: Perissodactyla

–                 Genus: Equus

–                 Family: Equidae

–                 Species: Caballus

Horse Breeds

The Thoroughbred is known as the Light Horse breed. Light horses are commonly referenced as “hot-blooded” or warmblood horses. The Light horse breed typically weighs less than 1,500 pounds. They are generally used for trail and leisure riding along with riding horses. Being swift and agile, many will be used on racetracks, for work conducted on ranches, and in show rings. 

The Light Horses are categorized in different ways. The first is the country or continent that they have originated from. These horses are also classified into groups according to their training, which falls into classifications of either hunter type which is a sports horse, stock type, saddle type, and “other”. Body types are also attributed to these classes, while the “other” classification is somewhat of an odd-ball. 

This classification covers the horses which are certain types of colour breeds. It also includes the horses that match a specific body type associated with training classes, yet are not used for this training type. The “other” types can also include the horses that match up to multiple group types. 

The Thoroughbred horse class is classified into the “Hunter” type class. 

Background of Horses 

The Thoroughbred is a horse that evolved in Britain over the 17th and the 18th centuries when the interest linked to horse racing was extremely strong. The British had been breeding these “running horses” for a long time and King Henry VIII was the founder for the first “royal racing” stables. 

The original Thoroughbred breed comes from 3 founding Arabian stallions which were all never raced. The 3 primary Thoroughbred pedigree bloodlines come from:

–                 Byerly Turk

It was the Byerly Turk that stood as Stud in County Durham and was the founder of the very 1st of the primary bloodlines.

–                 Darley Arabian

The Darley Arabian was purchased in Syria and then brought to East Yorkshire to its owner’s home. This horse was mated with Betty Leeds a mare which produced the very first racehorse, the Flying Childers, and the Bartlett’s Childers whose descendant known as Eclipse founded the 2nd bloodline. 

–                 Godolphin Arabian

This Thoroughbred was brought into England in the year 1728 by the distinguished Lord Godolphin of Cambridgeshire. This horse was a grandsire to Matchem which is the leader for the 3rd line. 

All the modern Thoroughbreds descend from the original three stallions when it comes to the line of males. 81% of the Thoroughbred genes are all derived from 31 original ancestors. 

Description of The Thoroughbreds

A Thoroughbred is typically about 16 hands, while the main colors include black, chestnut, bay, and brown. These horses have profiles that are straight and fine heads, which does not relate to the Arabian dish linked to their ancestors. These horses are sleek and long, with very long legs. The reason why they are so swift has to do with the distance between the hock and hind hip which allows for optimal thrust when they gallop and girth depth which allows for incredible lung expansion. 

The modern Thoroughbreds are bred in a way that they mature from earlier ages as the optimal racing years are between 2 and 3 years of age. Any of the horses that race in the Triple Crown which includes the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont are all 3-year old Thoroughbreds. 

Horse Feeding and Care

The Thoroughbreds usually have very fast metabolisms which means they need more food for their actual size when compared to other horse types in order to maintain a prime weight. 

Horse Activities and Training

The Thoroughbred horses are energetic and very athletic, which makes them the preferred breed when it comes to sporting horse competitions. They are the leaders in the racing world, as well as top competitors when it comes to eventing, dressage, and show jumping. They are usually “hot” horses which means they are highly energetic. They are also a handful to manage which does not make them a good choice for beginners. 

Common Health Issues

Thoroughbreds are all extensively physically tested when it comes to horse racing. This often results in accident rates that are high along with other health issues. Certain complications that these horses are susceptible to include small hearts, bleeding lungs, constipation, and hooves which are too small when compared to the size of the actual body. Thoroughbreds are also susceptible to low fertility. 


The Thoroughbreds are available in just about every country across the globe. The horses that cost the most money are extremely competitive Thoroughbreds, which are typically racehorses. However, these horses are also available at reasonable prices for standard horse owners.

The Thoroughbreds are available at lower prices through auctions when sold as ex-racehorses. However, these horses known as “off the track” will require extensive retraining in order for them to become a pleasure horse or for competitions that involve other disciplines. They might also come with injuries caused from their racing days.

For those not interested in retraining “off the track” Thoroughbreds, the Thoroughbreds which have already been trained in specific disciplines can also be found for reasonable prices through the classified ads. The prices will vary according to bloodlines, training and their overall performance.

Category: Special interest, Uncategorized

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