The race horse is designed and selected for speed. Quarter horse racers are selected for short bursts of intense speed while thoroughbred racing has races to suit both the sprinter and the long distance runner. These two types of racehorses possess differences in their muscle fibers, but both exhibit similar conformations.
The ideal racehorse is lean-bodied with a deep chest and wide barrel for increased lung capacity. The overall appearance is refined with fine-boned legs and chiselled facial features. A sloping shoulder and strong hindquarters are important qualities for speed. The temperament is high-energy and can be explosive at times. The thoroughbred in particular is often an excitable animal with a fine-tuned nervous system and tremendous athleticism.
Racing is one of the few disciplines where back extension is favored over a rounded back. More importantly, flexibility of the back to both flex and extend fully in rapid succession is vital. Racehorses with sore backs quickly fade in performance. Racing most closely resembles the horse’s natural way of going. The weight of the rider is negligible so that the horse does not need to adjust his balance toward the rear.
- Quarter Horse