It all started with Messenger, a English Thoroughbred, about 200 years ago.....
Today, every Standardbred can be traced back to Hambletonian 10 whose great-grandsire was Messenger.
The name "Standardbred" comes from the set time a horse had to reach when covering a mile - a "standard" time. Most Standardbred races today are still a mile.
Although not as tall, the Standardbred usually has more muscle and a longer body than its ancestor, the Thoroughbred. Other breed characteristics are:
Height: 15 - 16 hands
Weight: 800 - 1000 pounds
Color: usually bay, brown, or black
There are two types of Standardbreds, pacers and trotters. The only difference between the two is their gait. Nevertheless, pacers usually race against pacers and trotters against trotters.
Trotters have a diagonal gait:
right front and left back move at the same time and left front and right back move at the same time.
Pacers move the legs on the same side of the body at the same time:
right front and back move at the same time and left front and left back move at the same time.
Pacers usually wear hobbles to help them maintain their gait. Pacers are usually faster,
and about 80 percent of harness racing horses are pacers.
Harness horse racing is slightly different from the well-known thoroughbred racing.
Most racing takes place in the Midwest and the East. When racing, drivers ride behind the horse in a sulky or race bike. Racing under saddle is regaining popularity.
Standardbreds usually start racing when they are two or three years old. The Trotting Triple Crown includes the Yonkers Trot, Hambletonian, and Kentucky Futurity. Other popular races are the Peter Haughton Memorial and the World Trotting Derby. The Pacing Triple Crown includes the Little Brown Jug, the Messenger Stake and the Cane Pace.
Other pacing races are the Woodrow Wilson, Metro Stake, North American Cup, and the Adios.
Many Standardbred race horses can be adopted after their racing career. Standardbreds make excellent performance and pleasure horses. For more information, visit the Standardbred Equestrian Program Web site or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.