Height: Averagely around, or just over, 16hh. It is possible to get them as small as 14.2hh or as large as 17.3hh according to the purpose for which they are bred. Hacks are usually 14.2-15.3hh, sprinters 15.1-16.1hh, slayers and steeplechasers 15.2-16.3hhh, and hunters 15.1-17.3hh.
Color: Black, brown, bay, chestnut, gray.
Character: Bold, active, and brave.
Physique: Varies slightly according to type, hacks being comparatively light-framed, sprinters having muscled, compact bodies, ‘chasers usually big-framed with generous bone. The horse has a head aristocratic, with a straight face, and large, intelligent eyes; the neck is long and proudly arched, set into good, sloping shoulders and a deep chest. Prominent withers, short, strong back with a deep girth and well-sprung ribs.
Hindquarters are generous and well-muscled and can be either sloping or flat. It is with excellent legs showing good bone, short cannon bones, and springy pasterns. Some other features are Round feet, tending to be brittle, coat fine and silky, showing small veins underneath the skin, and a mane and tail fine and smooth. It is action free, long-striding, and very fast.
The Thoroughbred emergence as a breed begins as recently as the early 18th century. In the mid-17th century, a better class of horses was evolving, bred from the fastest native mares crossed with imported stallions which were usually Arabs, Barbs, or Turks. This early stock had not the exceptional turn of foot of the modern horse, which is taller and therefore has a longer stride; nor were its bloodlines yet sufficiently established for it to be described as a breed.
The three foundation sires from which all Thoroughbreds trace arrived in England a half-century later. They were the Barley Arabian, who was sent to England in 1704 by Thomas Darley, the British Consul in Aleppo; they’re Turk, who was Colonel Biyearly’s battle horse; and the Goop, probably part of a gift of horses to the King of France from thee of Tunis and later acquired from the shafts of a Paris milk float for Lodged’s stud at Cambridge.
One of the coolest villains of the Turf was Francis Ignatius Coy le, who played a daring part in the Great Swindle of 1844. The Derby of that year was won by a horse entered as Running Rein, which was recognized by a lush farmer as a four-year-old named Maccabaeus. An objection was lodged, and Running Rein’s owner (presumably not part of the plot) brought an action for the recovery of the prize money. The all-important piece of evidence was the horse, and a judge’s order was issued for the twining yard where it was stabled to be kept under close surveillance by detectives so that the horse could not be removed.
A day was quickly set for several veterinary surgeons to examine Running Ban to establish his age beyond doubt. Early on the morning of this critical day Ignatius Coyle, who had business with Running Rein’s trainer, rode into the stable yard on his hack. When his business had been concluded he remounted his hack and rode quietly away through the cordon of detectives. The back he rode away on was Running Rein. The horse was never seen.
Meanwhile, foreign interest in the Thoroughbred was beginning to develop. The French, who were to become perhaps the finest breeders of staying horses in the world, took the English triple crown (Two thousand Guineas, Derby, and St Leger) in 1865 with Gladiator, who they nicknamed the Avenger of Waterloo. The first American victory in the Derby happened in 1881 with Iroquois.
Early in the 20th century Italy, thanks mainly to one man, Federico Tesio, built up a stud that was to produce such great horses as Nearco, Donatello II, and Ribot, who have had enormous worldwide influence. Representatives of some 50 other nations began to appear at English horse auctions, and for the best part of half a century, Britain did an enormous trade in Thoroughbred export.
Today it declines. Through lack of foresight, lack of money, and lack of encouragement to the best owners and breeders to operate in the British Isles much of the cream of the English Thoroughbred has been skimmed off abroad.
All the horse-breeding nations Ireland seems to be the most stable, plucking young steeplechasers of consistent excellence from the farm yard, barn, and hunting field.
No matter how it is dispersed, the Thoroughbred still commands the highest prices and is the biggest industry by far of all horse breeds. It is the fastest horse in the world. It is also one of the finest riding horses, excelling in the hunting field, the show ring, at three-day events, and as an elegant and spirited hack.
See more: Swedish Halfbred Horse