Ride 'Em, Cowboy!
Well, not quite. Sure, everybody loves a good, old cowboy movie, but live horse racing doesn't seem to be quite as popular. Those of you who enjoy watching sport on TV should definitely consider this magnificent sport which pays homage to a practice that is thousands of years old!
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How We Became Equestrian
'Equestrian' is just a fancy term for 'horse riding', but it points to the deep history of riding horses: the term ultimately comes from the Latin word for 'horse'. This is evidence that the practice and skill of riding horses is a rather old tradition with an unquestionably rich history.
In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the history of horse racing has very deep roots which can be traced back to ancient Egypt, Rome, ancient Greece, ancient Syria and Babylon. Moreover, it was part of the ancient Olympic Games by at least 664 B.C.
The widespread popularity of horse racing has never waned; on the contrary, it has evolved to include more types of horse racing and has prompted people to selectively breed faster horses. Horse racing has all the makings of being an exciting sport on TV today!
Types of Horse Racing
Although the basic format of the sport has remained largely the same over the millennia, diverse types of horse racing have come to be practised as the sport evolved. There are 4 main types of horse racing: flat racing, jump racing, harness racing, and endurance racing.
Flat racing is the commonest form of horse racing around, in which horses gallop (that is, a horse's equivalent of sprinting) from point A to B on a track. Jump racing, also known as National Hunt racing, involves horses jumping over obstacles and can be subdivided into two other types: steeplechasing and hurdling.
Harness racing involves horses trotting or pacing (like a horse's equivalent of a jog) whilst pulling what is known as a sulky. A sulky is a small cart with two wheels and only one seat for the driver to sit in, which is how it received its somewhat humorous name!
Endurance racing consists of riders travelling across country on their horses for long distances, anywhere in the range of 10 kilometres to 100 kilometres. With so many different types of horse racing, it's impossible not to find something for everyone when it comes to live horse racing on TV!
Horse Breeds Matter
One of the most famous breeds around is definitely the Thoroughbred, which started being bred in late-17th-century England as a result of breeding English mares with Oriental stallions. Thoroughbreds are known as being 'hot-blooded', that is, they are extremely energetic, making them excellent for racing.
Another popular breed is the Arabian which was bred by the Bedouin, a group of nomadic Arabs, The Arabian is one of the most ancient horse breeds around and was bred specifically to be agile and able to travel long distances without getting tired, making it excellent for endurance racing.
Last but not least is the American Quarter Horse, an American breed which is the most popular breed in the United States. Quarter Horses are best known for their knack of being excellent sprinters, and in fact, their name comes from their ability to outrun other breeds in quarter-mile races!
The Greatest Jockeys to Ever Saddle
It's more than impossible to name them all here, but we'd be doing you a disservice if we deprive you of some great names, so here are our choices: first up is Jerry Bailey, who is the only person to ever win the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey 7 times!
Bailey is known for his illustrious career, including winning 16 races in a row with his valiant steed Cigar! Then we have Bill Shoemaker who won his first race at 18 years old, and would win 8,882 more before retiring, including every major North American race at least once!
Best TV Moments
There are so many great moments to choose from, and we'd love to name them all, but here are our picks: Calvin Borrel and his horse Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby of 2009. This pair was racing on a longshot, being given odds of 50 to 1.
However, when Mine That Bird found his footing, the pair rushed like a speeding bullet, winning the record for the fastest quarter-mile ever accomplished, in 23.77 seconds! Next is Liam Treadwell on his horse Mon Mone in the Aintree Grand National of 2009.
This particular race is one of the most perilous steeplechases in the world, and it was due to this that the pair won, despite the ridiculous odds of 100 to 1. The pair waited till the leading horses had fallen, and after jumping the final fence, dashed to the finish to win!
With so many extraordinary races, and so many beautiful and wonderful breeds within the sport, it's rather difficult not to consider live horse racing as one of the most exciting sport on TV today!