Thoroughbred can be a confusing term because people sometimes use it in reference to all purebred horses rather than the one specific breed that is called Thoroughbred. The breed started in England during the 17th and 18th centuries when English mares were bred with three imported Middle Eastern stallions of Arabian, Barb and Turcoman lineage. Thoroughbreds are famous for both their speed and their spirit, making them popular choices for equestrian sports such as racing, show jumping and combined training. They are also popular for other riding activities such as polo and fox hunting.
The average Thoroughbred is a medium-sized horse that stands at 60 to 70 inches and weighs 1,000 to 1,300 pounds. Its body is lean and long-legged, featuring a long neck ending in a chiseled head, a deep chest, a high ridge between the shoulders and a short back. Thoroughbred horses come with many non-patterned coat colours ranging from multiple shades of brown to black and grey. Other rarer colours such as roan, palomino and white also exist and are recognised by certified breeders. Thoroughbred horses are prone to a number of health problems including orthopaedic problems, low fertility, bleeding from the lungs and abnormally small-sized hearts. They are a popular horse breed in countries across the world, for example, in 2011 there were over 25,000 registered Thoroughbred foals born in North America.
For the most part, Thoroughbred horses eat the same foods as other horses, which can include anything from pasture grass to grains to hay and horse feed. The exact diet of a Thoroughbred horse depends on the purpose that the Thoroughbred horse is used for. In general, a horse can subsist on pasture but will need richer foods such as grains and horse feeds if the horse is expected to exert themselves physically. Common grains include oats, barley, corn and alfalfa while man-made horse feed use these and other ingredients to make horse food that balances both taste and nutrition. Some horses will also need concentrates to add in vital minerals and vitamins to promote the horses’ continuing good health. Racehorses, including Thoroughbred racehorses, need a lot more feed than normal and will need to be fed a high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet in order to give them the strength to run better. Almost 95% of crippling injuries in athletic horses are brought on by either fatigue or skeletal problems – a well-designed feeding schedule and regimen from birth will help prevent these problems by providing the horses with the vital nutrients to build their systems and the energy to fuel those systems. According to MAC-Jet Equine Racing International, a recent study found that 44% of 2,000 Thoroughbred and quarter horses being raised for sport suffered nutrition problems because of poorly designed diets.
Caring for Thoroughbred horses is much the same as caring for any other hot-blooded breed and quite similar to caring for horses in general. Trainers and equestrians need to keep in mind that Thoroughbred horses and hot-blooded horses in general tend to be more delicate and high-strung than other horses when interacting with them. Most of the other parts of caring for horses stay true for Thoroughbreds – trainers and equestrians will still need to groom the Thoroughbreds regularly to prevent parasites and keep their sleeping spaces clean so that health problems do not arise in the animals. Thoroughbreds used for racing and other strenuous physical activities will need horseshoes and regular hoof care to make sure that they can withstand the demands to their legs and do not develop leg and hoof problems.
This article is a Guest Post from Equifeast, manufacturers of horse supplements.