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American Standardbred Horse

The American Standardbred was based on an English Thoroughbred by the name of Messenger. Messenger was brought to America in 1788, and was bred with all sorts of mares including many Morgans.

Never actually racing, Messenger died at the age of 28 in 1808, and was buried on Long Island. His grandson Hambletorian, sired 1,355 offspring. Hambletorian also never raced, but his son Dexter trotted the mile in a record 2 minutes 17 seconds.

Early Standardbreds, to be included in the registry, had to complete a mile in less than 3 minutes, but today many are able to go this distance in less that 1 minute and 55 seconds.

The Standardbred has a lateral pacing gait, where both legs on one side move forward or back at the same time, that is ideal for harness racing. Although they are extremely fast trotters and virtually all European trotters have the Standardbred bloodline, pacers now outnumber the trotters about 4 to 1.
American Standardbred

photo courtesy of B. Langrish


American Standardbreds stand at about 15.2 to 15.9 hands in height, and are found in all shades of bay, brown, and blcak. Most of the finest are raised in Kentucky.

 


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