Be it racing, dressage, hunting, jumping or all-around pleasure horse, the thoroughbred is a remarkable breed. Basically developed over the past three hundred years to serve man’s passion for racing, the noble Thoroughbred is known for speed, stamina and heart.
The Thoroughbred stands a little over sixteen hands (one hand equals four inches) on average and its appearance reveals its Arabian ancestry. A refined head with wide-spaced, intelligent eyes sits on a neck that is somewhat longer and lighter than in other breeds. The withers are high and well-defined, leading to an evenly curved back. The shoulder is deep, well-muscled and extremely sloped while the heart girth is deep and relatively narrow.
The legs are clean and long with pronounced tendons. The cannon bone is short and relatively flat with the pastern, whose flexibility and strength cushions much of the stress put on a horse’s legs and body, set at an angle slightly less than forty-five degrees to the vertical. When viewed from behind or in front, the legs should be straight and move smoothly in unison through one plane.
The bone structure of the upper hind leg makes room for long, strong muscling. The thigh bone is long and the angle it makes with the hip bone is wide. The powerful muscling of the hip and thigh continues to the gaskin, which is set low. The trailing edge of the hind cannon should follow a perpendicular line to the point of the buttock.
The Thoroughbred’s conformation makes it an ideal runner, capable of covering more than twenty feet in a single stride while reaching speeds of up to forty miles per hour. The rear legs act much like springs as they bend and straighten during running. This tremendous “spring power” helps thrust the horse forward as its front legs provide “pull.” The Thoroughbred’s head and long neck also help to make running smooth and rhythmic. The neck moves in synchrony with the forelegs, aiding in forward motion and extending the “arc of flight,” the time the Thoroughbred literally is airborne.
Thoroughbreds come in many colors. The Jockey Club is the parent or central registry for all U.S. bred thoroughbreds. The Jockey Club recognizes the colors of bay, dark bay/brown, black, chestnut, grey and roan. To register a horse, the damn and sire must both be registered thoroughbreds and blood typed. Additionally, when the foal is born, blood must be sent in to be typed to insure the foal is of the reported breeding.
While most people think of the Thoroughbred only in racing terms, the thoroughbred excels in dressage, hunting and jumping show ring events. Additionally, the American Quarter Horse in its quest for speed and stamina has allowed outbreeding to the thoroughbred. Many of the quarter/thoroughbred crosses can be found performing western pleasure, barrel racing, pole bending, reining, cutting as well as being great trusted mounts for the casual rider.
The noble and wonderful Thoroughbred, with the look of eagles, is truly a remarkable horse.