Complete Look at Origin of English Thoroughbred Warmblood Horse | Complete Overview

The Thoroughbred Warmblood horse is an English racehorse founded in the 17th and 18th centuries when three imported stallions of Turkomen, Barb, and Arab lines were bred with English mares. The Thoroughbred is an all-around riding horse.

It may interest you to know that Thoroughbred horses are versatile and appear everywhere, from taking their riders from a dressage ring to excelling at their highest levels in show jumping and eventing.

Not only are Thoroughbred versatile, but they also have stamina and speed, for which reason many other breeds of horses are infused with the Thoroughbred blood to enhance athleticism.  

Table of Contents (Horspedia)

Thoroughbred Warmblood Horse Breed | Origin Height and Characteristics

Origin: England.

Height: it is averagely around, or just over, 16hh. It is possible to get them as small as 14.2hh or as large as 17.3hh according to the purpose for which they are bred. Hacks are usually 14.2-15.3hh, sprinters 15.1-16.1hh, stayers and steeplechasers 15.2-16.3hh, and hunters 15.1-17.3hh. 

Color: Black, brown, bay, chestnut, gray. Character: Bold, active, and brave.

Physique of the Thoroughbred Warmblood Horse Breed

It Varies slightly according to type, hacks being comparatively light-framed, sprinters having muscled, compact bodies, ‘chasers usually big-framed with generous bone.

Head aristocratic, with a straight face, large, intelligent eye; neck long and proudly arched, set into good, sloping shoulders and deep chest.

Thoroughbred Warmblood Horse Breed Physique
Thoroughbred Warmblood Horse Breed Physique

Prominent withers, short, strong back with a deep girth and well-sprung ribs. Hindquarters are generous and well-muscled and can be either sloping or flat.

Excellent legs showing good bone, short cannon bones, springy pasterns. Round feet, tending to be brittle. Coat fine and silky, showing small veins underneath the skin, and mane and tail fine and smooth. Action Free, long-striding, and very fast.

Thoroughbred as a Racehorse | What you Need to Know

The Thoroughbred is probably the only breed to be better known by the name of his usual trade: the racehorse. His emergence as a species begins as recently as the early 18th century – at a time when racing had been known to exist for at least 5,000 years. 

The beginnings of racing are so far back that they are beyond recorded history, though there are instructions for training racehorses on Hittite cuneiform tablets dated about 3,200 BC.

The Chinese, Greeks, and Romans are known to have enjoyed racing, but it was probably not until the Roman occupation of Britain that racing was introduced to England, the birthplace of the racehorse.

For more than 1,000 years following the Roman occupation, races took place limitedly all over Britain. They were usually held on public holidays, in market places or as private matches arranged between gentlemen. It was in the early 17th century, during the reign of King James I, that racing began to have any organization. 

Thoroughbred as a Racehorse | King James’ favorite

King James built a palace at Newmarket, a tiny East Anglian village that became the center of British racing, and visited with his Court for sporting holidays.

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Though he preferred hunting and hawking to race, racing was very popular in Scotland at the time, and Scottish members of the Court soon established the sport at Newmarket. 

Thoroughbred Horse in Racing Physique
Thoroughbred Horse in Racing Physique

However, when James recognized the military and civil importance of improving the speed and stamina of British horses, he encouraged the importation of good foreign horses to strengthen the breed.

King Charles Wins a Race With the Thoroughbred

Racing survived at Newmarket under Charles I, who was not a great racing man, and blossomed under Charles II, who could not have been keener. 

Charles Il founded races at Newmarket known as Royal Plates and liked to come and watch the racing every summer, with Nell Gwynn kept more or less discreetly down the road.

He is the only English king to have won a race on the flat with himself as a jockey, and one of the Newmarket courses existing today, the Rowley Mile, is named for his favorite hack, Old Rowley.

With such royal patronage, the popularity of racing increased. By this time (mid-17th century), a better class of racehorse was evolving, bred from the fastest native mares crossed with imported stallions, usually Arabs, Barbs, or Turks.

This early stock had not the exceptional tum of the foot of the modern racehorse, which is taller and therefore has a longer stride; nor were its bloodlines yet sufficiently established for it to be described as a breed.

What Horses Make up the Thoroughbred?

The three foundation sires from which all Thoroughbreds trace arrived in England a half-century later. They were the Darley Arabian, who was sent to England in 1704 by Thomas Darley, the British Consul in Alepp.

The Byerley Turk, who was Colonel Byerley’s battle horse; and the Godolphin Arabian, probably part of a gift of horses to the King of France from the Bey of Tunis and later acquired from the shafts of a Paris milk float for Lord Godolphin’s stud at Cambridge. 

These three were bred onto the best of the English racing mares with such success that today no Thoroughbred registered in the General Stud Book does not have one or all of the three horses that make up the Thoroughbred in his pedigree (in some cases, they reoccur many thousands of times).

The emergence of Thoroughbred

In the 70s, racing was still the hobby of the rich and aristocratic, and another hundred years and more were to pass before the Thoroughbred racehorse began to emerge as the foundation of a colossal industry. 

Somewhere around 1752, the Jockey Club, later to become the governing body of British racing, began as a social club for racing and horse breeding gentlemen, and it’s most influential early member was Sir Charles Bunbury.

The founders of the Derby race

With the Earl of Derby, Charles was the founder of the Epsom Derby – the race that was to become the greatest all-round test of a three-year-old in the world.

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It might have been called the Bunbury but for the toss of a coin. Lord Derby won the call, but Bunbury won the first Derby (1780) with his colt Diomed.

Half a century later, the Derby was established as the race of the year, and race meetings were no longer only for the wealthy. The coming of the railways no longer meant that horses and spectators had to live within walking distance of Epsom.

The Derby | Historical Equine Event where Thoroughbred English Warmblood Horse Strived

The Derby was a great event in Victorian times. For much of the country, it was a public holiday: even Parliament did not sit on Derby Day.

Massive crowds thronged to the racecourse, and side-shows, fairs, and other amusements added to the entertainment. 

One of the coolest villains of the Turf was Francis Ignatius Coyle, who played a daring part in the Great Swindle of 1844.

The Derby of that year was won by a horse entered as Running Rein, which was recognized by an Irish farmer as a four-year-old named Maccabaeus. 

It happened that an objection was lodged, and Running Rein’s owner (presumably not part of the plot) brought an action for the recovery of the prize money.

The all-important piece of evidence was the horse, and a judge’s order was issued for the training yard where it was stabled to be kept under close surveillance by detectives so that the horse could not be removed.

What happened to Running Rein?

A day was quickly set for several veterinary surgeons to examine Running Rein to establish his age beyond doubt. Early on the morning of this critical day, Ignatius Coyle, who had business with Running Rein’s trainer, rode into the stable yard on his hack.

When his business had been concluded, he remounted his hack and rode quietly away through the cordon of detectives. The “hack” he rode away on was Running Rein. The horse was never seen again.

Meanwhile, foreign interest in the Thoroughbred was beginning to develop. The French, who were to become perhaps the finest breeders of staying racehorses in the world, took the English triple crown (Two Thousand Guineas, Derby and St Leger) in 1865 with Gladiateur, who they nicknamed “the Avenger of Waterloo. ” 

Why did Sloan’s racing style become popular?

The first American victory in the Derby happened in 1881 with Iroquois. In 1897 the great American jockey Tod Sloan arrived in England.

Until that time, English jockeys had raced with long stirrups, often using spurs, and races tended to be leisurely, with an accelerated pace over the last two furlongs.

When Sloan got to England, his racing style was different. Crouching low with short stirrups and short reins, getting off to a fast start and winning his races from in front, he was at first ridiculed by the English, But his style proved to be extremely effective. 

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English jockeys who watch his effective racing style soon learned to adapt to it and have ridden short ever since. Although Sloan never won the Derby, compatriots of his who rode in the same fashion won 4 of the first 12 Derbies of the 20th century.

Thoroughbred English Warmblood | Worldwide Influence

Early in the 20th century Italy, thanks mainly to one man, Federico Tesia, built up a stud which was to produce such great horses as Nearco, Donatello II, and Ribot, who have had enormous worldwide influence.

Representatives of some 50 other nations began to appear at English racehorse auctions and for the best part of half a century, Britain made an enormous trade in Thoroughbred export.

Faith of the Thoroughbred Warmblood Horse Breed Today

Today Thoroughbred Warmblood Horse use declines. Through lack of foresight, lack of money, and lack of encouragement to the best owners and breeders to operate in the British Isles, much of the cream of the English Thoroughbred has been skimmed off abroad.

Hyperion’s progeny (Derby winner 1933) in America, a male has won more than $40,000,000. Vaguely Noble, an outstanding two-year-old of 1967, was sold to America for the then-record price of 136,000 guineas.

It went on to win Europe’s richest prize, the French Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was syndicated for $6,000,000 and is today siring some of America’s most brilliant stock. In the years 1968-72, four of the five English Derby winners were bred in North America.

The modern American racing industry is the richest in the world and beyond question produces the most precocious and brilliant young Thoroughbreds of any nation.

 The French have a deservedly high reputation for older middle-distance horses and stayers. 

The brilliant French Incentive Scheme for Breeders

(France has a brilliant incentive scheme for breeders, on condition the horse is both foaled and raced in France.) But of all the racehorse-breeding nations, Ireland seems to be the most stable, plucking young steeplechasers of consistent excellence from farmyard, barn, and hunting field.

No matter how it is dispersed, the Thoroughbred still commands the highest prices and is the biggest industry by far of all horse breeds. It is the fastest horse in the world. It is also one of the finest riding horses, excelling in the hunting field, the show ring, at three-day eventing, and as an elegant and spirited.