The Anatomy of a Champion Race Horse

Photo courtesy of TechTarget

Red Rum and Shergar and Desert Orchid are still, to this day, household names, we've all seen movies like Seabiscuit, Secretariat and Hildalgo, and if there's one thing we've learnt, it's that it takes hard work and a lot of perseverance to train a horse up to the standard of champion racer. However, there are more factors at play than just the training that the horse receives - its basic anatomical features will tell you whether or not a horse has what it takes to become a champ. Here are some important things to look for...

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A Big Heart

No, we're not talking about friendly temperament - although that's important too - but the actual size of the horse's heart. The autopsy of the famous racehorse Secretariat  in 1989 showed a startling result: a heart about twice as big as it would be in a normal horse. Of course, there's no way of checking how big your horse's heart is, however it is possible to identify stock with the large heart gene, and it shows just how important it is to look after this vital organ.

A Gleaming Coat

This is absolutely crucial, as it is a clear indicator that the horse is healthy on the inside... where it matters. A lovely shine gives a horse more than just a beautiful appearance, as it is evidence that they are fit and healthy.

Muscular Hindquarters

Any horse that's going to hold up against its competition needs to have a powerful behind that will propel it forwards with great speed. The back will be straight and muscular, and the ribs will be felt through the coat but not seen.

A Deep Chest

The horse's chest is another great indicator of its speed and movement - a chest that is too narrow may mean that its front legs are too close together and a chest that's too wide could cause waddling. A deep chest is perfect for a champion!

Slow-twitch Muscles

Unlike regular horses, thoroughbred race horses have slow-twitch muscles which make more efficient use of oxygen, aiding endurance. This helps them keep their speed consistent throughout an entire race.

Whether you want to race your own horse or simply know what to look out for next time you're sizing up the contenders on the TV, these anatomical features should give you a clear idea of what makes for the fastest horses!

Equine anatomy charts are available to buy on our website.

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