The Standardbred horse is a breed of horse that was developed in the United States of America. It was developed for the purpose of trot racing, which became popular in America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Selective breeding began when breeders chose horses that would result in the fastest Standardbred horses as possible, including the Thoroughbred, Morgan, Hackney, and Norfolk trotter. One of the most influential early foundation horses for the breed was Hambletonian 10, a horse that was once cast away as worthless, but can now be found in the bloodlines of almost every Standardbred.
The term Standardbred was first used to refer to the breed in 1879, due to the requirement that each horse entering the registry must be capable of trotting a mile within the two minute and thirty second standard time. Further selective breeding throughout the years helped develop the trotter and pacing types of this breed, which vary only slightly in the bloodlines.
The Standardbred reaches a height between fourteen and seventeen hands and has a long yet muscular conformation. The legs are refined while the body is slightly heavy, holding a somewhat arched neck that supports a straight head. Members of this breed are typically bay or dark bay, also known as brown, in color, but some can be black, chestnut, gray, or roan in color. In New Zealand, some tobiano patterned Standardbred horses have been found. The trotter and pacer types of the breed are only distinct in that they are bred to race using separate gaits, the trotter preferring to trot and the pacer preferring to use a two beat lateral gait.
The temperament of the Standardbred can be described as calm and the breed is noted for its willingness to train. It is most often used in harness racing, a sport which it is known for throughout the world, but it can also be used in a number of other sporting events including show jumping, eventing, dressage, and trail riding, as well as pleasure riding and driving. It has recently been found that the breed can perform ambling gaits like the stepping pace and rack, with training, and it is so skilled in trotting that it has been used to enhance other breeds including the Orlov trotter and French trotter.
Image Caption: The Standardbred is best known as a harness racing breed. Credit: Historicair/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)