Fast, beautiful and adaptable — 7 reasons why we’re rooting for thoroughbreds

  • Are you on team thoroughbred? Find out why H&H's website editor is rooting for this sleek and speedy breed

    Before we go any further I have to confess that I am a big fan of the mighty thoroughbred (TB). Having owned and ridden a range of types and breeds of horses since I was a child, I would now choose them (or a horse with a very high percentage of TB blood) over any other.

    But while not wishing to over generalise — everyone involved in horses knows that every horse is an individual, and there are exceptions to every rule — I don’t believe thoroughbreds are suitable for everyone.

    That isn’t to say you have to be an expert to have one — you just need to understand their mindset. If you can do that, thoroughbreds can make excellent horses for both competition and pleasure riding alike.

    Here are just a few reasons why I rate thoroughbreds so highly.

    1. Thoroughbreds love to work, and I mean LOVE to work

    Of all the horses I’ve ridden since childhood, my TBs have been the most naturally motivated. As soon as the tack comes out, they have their head over the door and can’t wait to find out what challenge that ride is going to bring.

    2. They learn quickly

    Explain a new exercise or technique carefully to a TB and they’ve got it. Even if they might find it difficult physically at first, they will typically give it a really good try. And when you ask for it next time, they will remember. Rarely do you find yourself having to go over and over the same exercise once they’ve got it sussed, unlike some other breeds I’ve known. However, this can also work against you so it’s important you make sure the habits TBs learn are good ones.

    3. Thoroughbreds thrive on a regular routine

    Whether that routine is in at night and out during day, living out 24/7 (yes, contrary to popular belief most TBs can cope perfectly well living out full time if they have good food, adequate shelter and are rugged appropriately), or whatever suits your lifestyle, given sufficient time to adjust they are generally happy horses to have around. But if you want to be able to leave your horse standing in its stable until lunchtime on Saturday because you’ve had a big night out on Friday, a TB is probably not be for you.

    4. Whether they were bred to race or for other sport, thoroughbreds can be exceptionally quick

    Obviously not all horses make it on the track, but those that don’t still have a pretty impressive turn of pace when asked which can leave most of your friends eating your dust while out on a fun hack.

    5. A popular misconception is that thoroughbreds are spooky

    In my experience this simply isn’t the case, especially those that have been in training/have raced. Having been exposed to traffic, travelling and all the hullaballoo of the racetrack at a young age, hacking out and going to shows is something most take in their stride. However, that isn’t to say that they never spook — after all what horse doesn’t? — and when they take evasive action they are typically quite quick, so a decent seat and a sense of humour will help you to enjoy the ride. See my earlier point about TBs not being for everyone…

    6. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, TBs are typically elegant beasts

    Look down the line of any hack class at a county show and the majority of the beautiful horses you will see are exquisite thoroughbreds demonstrating manners in spades. Who wouldn’t want to take one of those home?

    7. Thoroughbreds are typically very adaptable sport horses with big hearts

    Whether it’s turning on a sixpence on the polo field, galloping round a cross-country course, jumping huge hedges out hunting, floating around the show ring or pointing their toes in the dressage arena, once you’ve identified the sport that your TB is best suited for, you can be sure you’ve got a willing partner.

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