The typical Standardbred horse
stands about 15.2 hands. It has a relatively long
body, a refined head set on a medium-sized neck,
muscular quarters, and clean hind legs. It
appears in varying colors, but bay, brown and
black are the most common.
The Standardbred traces its
ancestry back to Messenger, an English Thoroughbred foaled in 1780 and later exported to
the United States. Messenger was the
great-grandsire of Hambletonian 10, to whom every
Standardbred can trace its heritage. The name Standardbred
originated because the early trotters were
required to reach a certain standard for the mile
distance in order to be registered as part of the
new breed. The Standardbred is still considered
the best horse for harness racing because of the
need for the horse to maintain a steady pace
throughout the race -- the standard distance of
which is one mile.
There are two "kinds"
of Standardbred horses -- trotters and pacers.
Trotters move with a diagonal gait; the left
front and right rear legs move in unison, as do
the right front and left rear. Pacers, on the
other hand, move the legs on one side of their
body in unison; left front and rear, then right
front and rear.
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