American Standardbred – Breed of the Week

American Standardbred Horse

Image from pmarkham

American Standardbred horses can be trotters or pacers and their name comes from the standard qualifying speed test they must pass to qualify for registration (a mile in under 3 minutes).

From One Source

All American Standardbreds can trace their lineage to the originator of the breed, an English Thoroughbred stallion named Messenger brought over in 1788. He was bred to mares from a variety of different bloodlines & breeds (usually gaited breeds) with the intention of creating a faster gaited animal for racing. Interestingly enough, ole Messenger never raced himself.

American Standardbred Horse

Image from terrapin

Trotting Vs. Pacing

Standardbreds can do it all, however there is a distinct difference between the two.

Trotting is a natural diagonal gait where legs on the opposite sides move simultaneously.

Pacing is a lateral gait where legs on the same side move simultaneously. Lateral gaits are ideal for harness racing and used by about 80% of harness racers.

Learn More

US Trotting
Standard Bred
Harness Tracks

4 Comments on “American Standardbred – Breed of the Week

  1. Isabella Marks

    You didn’t mention the breed’s “type” so I thought I’d leave a comment saying a bit about Standardbreds.

    Standardbreds are generally very calm, brave horses. This is partly due to race training, in which they are exposed to new environments and equipment daily, but also due to their breeding.

    In terms of conformation, Standardbreds are similar to the Thoroughbred but with shorter, stronger legs and a heaver neck and head. Standardbreds are considered to be of Hunter type. They have good, solid feet, a strong back and well sprung ribs. It is not uncommon for a Standardbred’s croup to be higher than its wither.

    Standardbred horses vary in colour and height, but generally speaking they are between 14.3-16.3 hands high, and most horses are of a solid colour, the most common being bay. There are some ‘coloured’ Standardbred horses, such as the pinto Standardbreds that are becoming popular in New Zealand.

    Standardbreds are very versatile horses, and while many people wrongly assume they can only trot or pace, they can perform all the natural gaits including a collected walk, canter and gallop. In fact, many pacers prefer to trot at liberty, and will only need retraining to understand the cues for canter and trot, not to learn the gait itself.

    In conclusion, the American Standardbred is a quality all-round horse, suitable for any discipline or rider education level, and are becoming increasingly popular worldwide for their good nature and healthy conformation.

    1. Lisa

      Isabella: Hi, I just recently purchased an absolutely beautiful Standardbred Bay at auction for a wopping $20.00. He was Amish owned and very mal-nutritioned. He is the most lovable animal I have ever encountered. I have only had him for a week now but his recovery is phenominal. He responds to any love given him and must have been trained in a trotter-pacer environment because his gait is impecible. He is gaining his weight back day by day and I can’t wait for him to be up to par. They told us he was 14 years, and my daughter (an equine rescue nut)(she has four of her own) says he is about 15.5 to 16 hands. Is there an organization to register Standardbreds? I am so new to this. I have been looking but I must not be looking in the right sites. If you can help I would appreciate it.
      Thank you for any input you can give me.

  2. Paige

    Hi Isabella,

    Thanks so much for the info. I don’t know the breed personally so it’s great to get input from someone who obviously does. :)

  3. Kate

    I own a standardbred, who we adopted from our local horse rescue place. She is an ex-pacer and is coming along nicely. Standardbreds are extremely intelligent horses and pick up commands easily. She is an absolutely stunning girl, 16.2hh and has the sweetest nature of any horse I have ever known.
    If you are looking for a perfect natured horse, then by all means buy a standardbred, you will never regret it.

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