The History of the Standardbred Horse
In the 17th century, the first trotting races were held in the Americas, usually in fields on horses under saddle. However, by the mid-18th century, trotting races were held on official courses, with the horses in harness. Breeds that contributing foundation stock to the Standardbred breed included the Narragansett Pacer and the Canadian Pacer, English Thoroughbreds, Norfolk Trotter, the Hackney, and the Morgan. Breeders selected bloodlines that would produce the fastest horses, with one of the most notable sires being the gray English Thoroughbred stallion Messenger, who was exported to the United States in 1788. He produced both runners and trotters.
Messenger's descendant, the legendary Hambletonian 10, also known as Rydysk's Hambletonian, was born in 1849. He was sold,
his owners thinking he was worthless, but later became one of the most prolific sires of Standardbreds, today with nearly every trotter or pacer tracing its lineage back to him.
The name "Standardbred" was first used in 1879, due to the fact that, in order to be registered, every Standardbred had to be able to trot a mile within the "standard" of 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Today, many Standardbreds race much faster than this original standard, with several pacing the mile within 1 minute, 50 seconds, and trotters only a few seconds slower than pacers. Slightly different bloodlines are found in trotters than pacers, though both can trace their heritage back to Hambletonian.
The stud book was formed in 1939, with the formation of the United States Trotting Horse Association.
The beauty of Standarbreds - apart from their outer and inner beauty ofcourse! - is the
incredible versatility that Standardbreds possess. You will see them in dressage, jumping,
eventing, western, equitation, trotters, pacers, endurance, parades, police work, search and rescue work ... and as adorable,
reliable, trustworthy and noble pets (or as we prefer to say, extended family!).
Standardbred horses are generally a bit heavier in build than their
Thoroughbred cousins, but have refined, solid legs and powerful shoulders and hindquarters.
Standardbreds have a wide range of height, from 14.1 to 17+ hands (57"-66"), and most often are
bay or the darker variation of bay called "brown," although other colors are not uncommon.
The breed also is able to perform the pace and all other horse gaits, including the canter, and pacers can be retrained to many
different careers including jumping,
western disciplines and
dressage careers. Standardbreds are best known for their level and sensible dispositions and
are generally considered "easy keepers".