Silvia Watson Contributor

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Horse Racing: A Sport of Emperors, Kings, and Gentlemen

Horse racing is a sport for kings! That is something we have heard ever since we came to know of horse racing. Equestrian performance sports as simple as racing often involve jockeys riding their horses over a fixed distance for competition. It is indeed one of the most ancient forms of sports, and it is quite simple too. This class of sport aims to find out which horse is faster and by how much time difference. This fundamental principle has remained the same over the last few centuries.

We find the mention of different kinds of horse races and equestrian events in ancient literature from 680 BCE Greece and later Roman literature. It was a part of the Olympic events. Chariot races and riding races were an essential part of the Byzantine Empire as well. During these games, only noblemen or their representatives participated while the everyday people were spectators in the stands. Ever since the conception of horse racing as a mainstream sport, there has been excitement and rivalry amidst the spectators. Many ancient pieces of literature and frescos show the excited countenances of the viewers in the stands during the race.

Right now, there are many types of races that are part of the world equestrian events. Here are some of the most common races that you can enjoy today:

Flat racing: this is a simple form of horse racing where the horses gallop on a level track. Till date, it is the test of speed or stamina or both. Thoroughbred horses are the most common participants at the leading flat race events around the world. The Breeders Cup horse race is the most famous flat racing event today.

Steeplechase: this is jump racing, where the jockeys steer their horses to jump above hurdles on the race track. Steeplechasing usually refers to all kinds of races that involve jumping obstacles, in the USA. The most famous steeplechase is the Aintree Racecourse Grand National Run. This annual competition happens every year in Liverpool since 1836.

Harness racing: the horses pace and at the same time they pull the driver in a sulky. The participating horses can either trot or speed, depending on the requisites of the race. Almost 90% of the Harness Races in the USA are pacing races.

Endurance racing: during endurance racing, horses travel across county covering vast distances. The distance usually ranges between 25 miles to 100 miles. The participating horses stop periodically to undergo health checkups. The young horses typically take part in shorter rides or Limited Distance Rides for better training.

Usually, only Thoroughbreds, Arabian, Appaloosa and American Quarter Horse breeds take part in these races. These are either hot blood or warmblood horse breeds that have power, strength, and endurance.

The cold blood horses including the Finnhorses and Scandinavian Trotter participate in harness racing within their own countries of origin. Ponies also have their own races. They can participate in flat racing, harness racing and jump races among their own categories.