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harness racer

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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This page was last updated on July 29, 2015.

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