Learn history, characteristics, and facts about the Thoroughbred horse.


Thoroughbred Horse Breed History

Throughout equine history few breeds have impacted the horse world quite like the Thoroughbred. Three foundation sires, the Byerly Turk, the Godolphin Arabian and the Darley Arabian, were bred to native English horses to create the breed in the early 17th century. The Thoroughbred first made its mark as a racehorse, shaping a sport so favored by the gentry that racing was dubbed the sport of kings. Thoroughbred racehorse at the North American Racing Academy

With its famous speed and stamina, the Thoroughbred quickly found its way into other sports, such as hunting, jumping, dressage and eventing. It has contributed its bloodlines to many breeds, including European warmbloods and the American Quarter Horse.

Characteristics and Facts

The Thoroughbred stands from 15.3 to 17 hands high and is found in all solid colors. Its long bones and graceful movement give the horse an elegant presence. This breed is known for its long neck and powerful haunches to help propel it forward in a galloping stride that is over 20 feet long–moving at a speeds of over 30 miles an hour.

Off-track Thoroughbred Donner competing in eventing
Off-track Thoroughbred Donner competing with rider Lynn Symansky at the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.

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Further Reading

This horse breed profile was originally published on December 15, 2006.


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