In the end of the 17th century and the beginning of 18th, British noblemen decided to make the heavy British race horses better and faster; so they imported three Arabian stallions, who are the founders of almost all contemporary thoroughbred horses. They were Darley Arabian, Godolphin Arabian and Byerley Turk.
The result of the breeding was horses who were clearly faster but did not lack in stamina. Those horses were the first thoroughbred racehorses.
As it happens with runners, horses have physical characteristics that allow them to be either better in sprints (extensive musculature and fast stride) or in long distances (bigger stride and stamina), it’s the same thing with sprinters and long-distance runners.
Horses participating in flat races, such as those conducted in Greece, may start racing from the age of two. Some horses retire at the age of four, while others remain active for much longer competing in races for 10 years and more. Even though some of the most famous races are confined to 3-year-olds [Criterion (Kritirio), Derby (Ntermpi) etc.], it is common knowledge that horses reach their peak at the age of four or five years.
- Racehorses are allowed to compete in races from two years of age.
- In the northern hemisphere, all horses born in the same year have as official birth date the 1st of January. However, it goes without saying that in horse races of 2-year-olds, the horses born in the beginning of the year tend to be more mature compared to those born a few months later, even though they are considered to be the same age.
- A racehorse weighs approximately 500kg, while the average weight of its heart is 4kg.
- A racehorse consumes about 5-7% of its weight in water.
Out of the diverse array of horse colors, the most common are:
- Grey (Gr) – ranging from bright white to steel-coloured grey.
- Bay (B) – covers a huge range of the colour brown, from bright bay through to dark bay, which is basically black. Bay horses have black manes and tails.
- Chestnut (CH) – a reddish or ginger coat colour, with a mane and tail to match.
- Roan (Ro) – a Roan horse has an even mixture of white hairs mixed in with another colour.
- Brown (Br) – a horse registered as Brown will also have a brown mane and tail.
- Black (Bl) – a purely black horse, but this is rare!
- White (Wh) – this classification is also very rare. Most horses that appear to be white will in fact be classed as Grey, with black skin. Grey horses tend to get lighter in colour as they get older.