The Thoroughbred horse breed is one of the most prized breeds in the world. Thoroughbreds are particularly famous for their skill on the racetrack, but they are also used for a variety of other equestrian events. Many horses which compete at the Olympic level are at least part Thoroughbred, and the horses are also used in eventing, show jumping, dressage, and a variety of other equestrian competitions. Smaller Thoroughbreds are in great demand as polo ponies. However, for casual and trail riding, a Thoroughbred may not be the best choice.
The roots of the Thoroughbred can be found in 17th century England. Three Arabian stallions were crossed with English mares to yield an entirely new breed of horse. All modern Thoroughbreds carry the bloodline of the Godolphin Arabian, the Byerly Turk, or the Darley Arabian. The cross of this foundation stock with sturdy English horses created a breed known for being competitive, fiery, strong, and big hearted in competition.
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The primary focus of Thoroughbred breeding is on creating racehorses. A racehorse is bred for speed and agility, and these traits also translate well into other horse sports. The horses range in size from as little as 15 hands to 17 hands, and they have long necks, muscular hindquarters, long legs, and distinctly planed faces. A wide range of colors meet the breed standard, although chestnuts are among the most common.
The traits which make a Thoroughbred valuable on the track are not desired for all riders. The horses have a reputation for being difficult to handle, so they should not be ridden by inexperienced and very young riders. They also require a lot of work, since Thoroughbreds get impatient and bored if they are not exercised. The long legs of the horse are also easy to damage, and many people prefer to keep Thoroughbred horses stabled when they are not being exercised, which means much more work on the part of the owner. A Thoroughbred is also not bred for extended endurance, making it less suitable for trail riding and endurance riding.
However, if you are looking for a high quality competition horse which will meet any challenge you present, a Thoroughbred is well worth considering. The horses perform very well in competition, and they will become fiercely loyal to their riders. For an additional level of difficulty, you can look into programs which rescue former racehorses. Many ex-track horses have successfully trained to compete in other arenas, although they require careful handling and dedicated training.