The Thoroughbred - Horse breeds, horse breeding and types of horse.   
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The Thoroughbred


Most Thoroughbreds are 15 to 16.2 hands and weigh 900 to 1200 lbs. Everything about them is long: long, smooth muscles, long forearms, long, sloping shoulders, long loins, long legs. The colors are bay, brown and chestnut, black, and some roans and greys. They are the greyhounds of the horse world and should look athletic.

Thoroughbred heads are clean cut and fine boned, with thin skin. The eyes are big and alert; nostrils are large. The neck is long and graceful; withers are well-defined; shoulders are long and sloping; the chest is narrow and muscular. The girth is extremely deep. The body is long but the loins and hind quarters must be strong. The hind legs are long from the hip to the hock. The hooves often have thin walls that chip and crack easily.

This horse can best be described as, "Long, low and economical". He is strong; fast; and, has great stamina and strength.

The Thoroughbred is courageous, competitive and enduring. He is also high strung and sensitive and can be temperamental.


The history of the Thoroughbred began in England in the 1600's. Farmers had always raced their horses against each other, and a racing industry had begun around that time. Wealthy landowners began breeding horses specifically to race; the native horses had endurance but little speed and the breed imported to improve the native horses was the Arabian. First came the "Royal Mares", the matriarchal foundation; later, the Byerly Turk, the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Barb (also known as the Godolphin Arabian) were imported, and the Thoroughbred we know today was established.

The Byerly was foaled in 1679 and stood at stud for 20 years. He was owned by Captain Robert Byerly, who rode him into the Battle of Boyne in 1690. The Darley was foaled in 1700 and stood at stud for 30 years in Yorkshire. He was owned by Thomas Darley, who imported him from Allepo, Syria in 1704. The Godolphin was foaled in 1724 and lived until the age of 30. He was imported from Morocco in 1728 by Edward Coke, who willed him to Lord Godolphin.


The first Thoroughbred to arrive in America was Bulle Rock in 1730. Next came Post, daughter of the Godolphin Barb, in 1733. Many more followed. The foundation sires of the Thoroughbred are considered to be Matchem (foaled 1748), grandson of Godolphin Barb; Herod (foaled 1758), great-great-grandson of Byerly Turk; and Eclipse (foaled 1764), great-great-grandson of Darley Arabian. Since then, many racing Thoroughbreds have made their mark on history and have become well-known outside the racing world. These include Citation, Swaps, Buckpasser, Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Northern Dancer, Nashua, Bold Ruler, and the most famous of all, Man o' War. The Thoroughbred has been influential in other breeds, particularly Sport Horses.

For more information, contact The Jockey Club, Inc.

This article was kindly provided by Michelle Staples, Staples Stables

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