The Qualities of Racehorses

Although all breeds of horse that participate in races are pure breeds, this particular breed got its name thanks its excellent qualities
The Qualities of Racehorses
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Speed and length of stride aren’t the only qualities of racehorses. They have a variety of qualities that sports training has perfected over time. Today, we’ll discuss the main qualities of the two quintessential breeds of racehorses.

Qualities of racehorses: main breeds


Although all breeds of horses that participate in races are pure breeds, this particular breed got its name thanks to its excellent qualities. Thoroughbred horses were historically used as racers, but they also developed in horse riding and hunting.

Physical qualities of thoroughbreds

A typical thoroughbred can be between 5 and 6 feet tall. Their physical structure was perfected to ensure they have the best chances in a race. They have a wide, deep, and straight inclined back, and a well-developed muscle structure.

They have strong long legs, long and muscular necks, and refined heads with two wide-set eyes that give them an excellent range of vision.

The colors of their coat are mostly bright chestnut shades, but can also be sorrel, bay, or dappled. Their legs, faces, and belly can have white patches, but this is uncommon for the rest of their bodies.

A jockey racing a horse.

The selection and breeding of a thoroughbred depends on its purpose or the type of career or show they’re going to take part in. If jockeys only use them for short runs (less than a mile), they’ll prefer sprinters, since these horses are powerful and very muscular. However, if riders intend to use them for long-distance racing, then they’ll prefer larger horses.

Historically, the ones that are successful in sports races are often medium-sized and athletic, such as the champions Man O War and Secretariat both with a height of 5.5 feet. However, iconic winners like War Admiral and Seabiscuit, measuring in at 5.08 and 5.16 feet respectively, showed that talent can be more than physical configuration.

Emotional qualities and character of a thoroughbred horse

The reasons why thoroughbreds make great racers isn’t just down to their physical attributes, but also their emotional qualities. These horses have quite fiery and nervous temperaments, which is a great quality to have at the start of a race. Like most horses, they’re constantly aware of their surroundings and are very brave.

Thoroughbreds need highly experienced and devoted jockeys because they have fiery personalities. If they’re in the wrong hands it could be dangerous, but with the right training they could be unstoppable. Just like all professional animals, thoroughbreds need consistent training and clear goals in order to be motivated.

Qualities of racehorses: the American quarter horse

The American quarter horse is also an excellent horse racing breed. This is because they vary in height and are the most versatile. They’re popular in the world of sports, especially in polo and horse riding, as well as therapy animals.

An American quarter horse.

Below are their most outstanding physical and emotional qualities:

Physical qualities of the American quarter horse

The American quarter horse can grow to a height of between 4.6 and 5.4 feet and 5.4 feet high, although the optimum height is between 4.9 and 5.1 feet. They’re medium-sized and they don’t weigh too much for such a muscular horse. They have wide chests and a large circumference, as well as remarkable muscle mass specifically in the extensor muscles.

They have short backs with strong spines as well as well-filled, arched, and deep ribs. Finally, they have short heads with two large wide-set eyes that give them a straight and thin profile. Their coats can be a variety of different shades. However, a horse isn’t classed as an American quarter if it’s albino or has spotted or mottled fur.

Emotional qualities and character of the American quarter horse

Just like the thoroughbred, American quarter horses are attentive and sensitive. However, they’re much more docile and balanced, making them easier to breed and train. Because they’re intelligent and sociable, they often learn very easily with their rider.

Although they inherited the hot and fiery traits of their wild ancestors, they’re now much more peaceful after being crossbred with other breeds.

In reality, their emotional qualities also resemble their physical structure. Strong and hard-working, they never lose elegance with their smooth and harmonious walk.  But, when motivated, their energy and strength make them a quintessential racing horse.

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