Perhaps the most recognised breed in the world and the most widely identified as such, the Thoroughbred was first developed for speed and scope in 17th century Britain.
The breed hails from three founding stallions, these being the Byerley Turk of the 1680s, the Darley Arabian of 1704, and the Godolphin Arabian of 1729.
The Thoroughbred was originally developed for flat racing, a sport that was popular by the 12th century, and a standard was eventually established to differentiate a Thoroughbred from a purebred. In order for a Thoroughbred to be registered as such, a ‘live covering’ needs to be witnessed between a stallion and a mare.
Today, the Thoroughbred is observed in a variety of disciplines, from racing and polo to competition eventing. It is thought that 118,000 Thoroughbred foals are registered every year from around the world.
Characterised by a well balanced, athletic physique, well conformed legs, a strong head and a thick mane and tail, the Thoroughbred is seen in a variety of solid colours, with white markings permissible on the face and lower legs. In height, the Thoroughbred is generally between 15.5-17 hands.
Secretariat, one of the most well known racing Thoroughbreds in the world, fetched a record price of $6,080,000 at auction, having won the Triple Crown in 1973, 16 of 21 race starts and tied or broken 5 track records. After his death, the veterinarian on hand discovered that Secretariat had a heart nearly 3 times larger than the average horse.