Horse racing got started as long ago as 1174 in England, when aristocrats used to compete with their horses in four-mile races over a flat track. During the Middle Ages, racing continued at fairs and markets. King James I of England and the royalty who followed him supported horse racing, and after a while it became popular with the public. In 1727, the Racing Calendar, a newspaper all about racing, was founded.
By the end of the 18th century, English Classic races were being run. These were between 1 mile and 1.75 miles, so they were much shorter than the old 4-mile races. The shorter races meant that breeders started to raise horses for speed instead of for endurance. Also, these horses began racing at a younger age.
Most Thoroughbreds are some shade or brown, gray, or black. They can have white markings on their heads and feet, but shouldn't have white spots on their bodies. In the U.S., roan, palomino, and white Thoroughbreds are also recognized. Usually, a Thoroughbred stands between 15.2 and 17.0 hands (62" to 68") at the withers.
Because they are bred to run fast, and they are asked to do this at a young age, Thoroughbreds have lots of accidents and other health problems. One-tenth of all Thoroughbreds end up with fractures or other orthopedic issues. For every 1,000 horses starting in a race in the U.S., 1.5 will likely end up with some kind of breakdown that will mean they can't race again. This averages out to 2 horses per day.
Other Thoroughbred health issues include a majority that suffer bleeding from the lungs during high exertion, 10% with low fertility, and 5% with abnormally small hearts. Also, Thoroughbreds tend to have small hooves relative to their body mass. The hoof walls and soles are thin, which is a big reason these horses easily end up with sore feet.
|Wikipedia, photo: Anthony92931|
Okay, so that's my report on Thoroughbred horses. Oh, but I think I forgot to mention that the Thoroughbred is the State Horse of Kentucky. And also that the Kentucky Derby is always run the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs.