Home / UK Horses / Thoroughbred

By Smith Northam

Last updated: 5th July 2023



Smith Northam
Last updated: 5th July 2023

The Thoroughbred Horse is one of the most favorite equine breeds of the world, if not the first. Developed in England, these horses have come a long way to prove it the best, as far as horse racing is concerned. Though the thoroughbreds are primarily used for running and riding, they are also bred for several other disciplines including dressage, polo, combined training, show jumping, and even fox hunting.

Thoroughbred Pictures

Quick Information

Behavioral Characteristics Noble, brave, willing, lively, adaptable, friendly
Physical Traits The profile is sturdy and well-built with a lean and long body, an alert, refined head, a graceful and long neck ending in sloped shoulders; the hindquarters are very powerful with the legs being fine and elongated, having well-formed joints
Coat Colors All solid colors, but chestnut, black, bay, dark bay, brown, and gray are most common
Height/Size 15.2 to 17.0 hands (adult average 16)
Weight Around 1,000 pounds
Common Uses Riding, drawing carriages, shows, hunting, sports
Health Problems Lung bleeding, small hoof-to-body-mass ratio, low fertility, abnormally small heart
Type Racing horse, Sport horse, Show horse, Competition horse, Pleasure horse, Trail horse
Blood Type Warm
Lifespan 25 years
Ancestors (Bloodlines) The oriental stallions of Arabian, Barb, Turkoman origin, and the native mares
Popular Traits Beautiful, strong, durable, friendly, obedient
Feeding/Diet General horse diet including hay, grass, grains, etc.
Country of Origin England, UK
Associations and Registries National Thoroughbred racing Association
The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association
Pedigree Query

Video: The Thoroughbred Horse Breeding and Training at Horse Farm

History and Development

The history of the Thoroughbred horse breed can be traced back to the 17th and the 18th centuries – the time they evolved in Great Britain. Interestingly, the British people had a keen affinity for racing horses, since they had long been breeding them so as to make them excel in abilities involving running, including horse riding and other equine sports.

In this context, it must also be mentioned that the British King Henry VIII established the royal racing stables of England. Furthermore, it was Henry who imported Spanish horses with Barb influence for enhancing his local running stock, while since the 1770’s, more Arabian blood was introduced for the refinement of the Thoroughbred line.

In fact, the uniqueness of this breed vests upon its three founding stallions, all of which were Arabians. Nevertheless, history shares an amusing fact that, though the Thoroughbred animals were developed in order to employ them as racing horses, none of these three Arabians from its founding stock were used for racing events.

Three of these Arabians that were used as the primary bloodlines of the first Thoroughbred was the Godolphin Arabian, the Byerly Turk, and the Darley Arabian, while 31 other local equines also contributed, along with these three imported animals. These three animals were brought in into the British realms to procreate horses of their kinds, mating with the local mares, as well as the racing horses.

Thus, it is quite evident that the present-day Thoroughbreds within the male line are all forerunners of these three stallions, and more than 80% of the genes belonging to the thoroughbred horses descended from their original Arabian forefathers.

Either way, the breeding of the Thoroughbred Horse proved to be a grand success, resulting in a new breed that was not just agile and sturdy but also had the endurance and tenacity to run comfortably over long distances, and work for extended time periods.

Gradually, the vices of gracefulness and strength spread over the countries under the British colonies, making this new breed one of the most popular and sought-after equine in the west, including the United States, and many other countries of the world. At present, the Thoroughbred horse is practically the most popular racing breed in the world today.

Interesting Facts

  • The term ‘thoroughbred’ has often been used to mention any equine breed of purebred origin; however, technically, the term refers to only the British Thoroughbred horses.
  • Because of overexertion, this breed is known to have faced high accident rates involving bleeding from the lungs.
  • Each year, around 100,000 foals are registered worldwide.
  • The Thoroughbreds have been implemented in creating several other top warmblood horse breeds like the Quarter Horse, the Standardbred, and the Anglo-Arabian.

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