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The Standardbred

Harness racing is a North American tradition that traces its roots back to the days of the early settlement of Canada and the United States. The fascination with the "trotting horse" began with pioneer farmers, merchants, and trades people who used light-harness horses in their daily affairs. The businessman able to deliver passengers and goods quickly held an edge over slower rivals. It was only natural that competitive colonists aspired to own horses that could trot faster than those of their neighbors.

Almost from the beginning, colonists began testing the speed and stamina of their horses. Spontaneous match races were common on the roads and streets of colonial towns long before the Declaration of Independence was written. These impromptu races evolved into organized street races and later into race meets conducted on tracks constructed for just that purpose.

The popularity of harness racing brought with it a demand for horses that could trot or pace faster than the average. There was no distinct light-harness racing breed. Frequently Thoroughbreds that showed some talent for trotting were crossed with mares of mixed breeding. Narragansett Pacers, Morgans, Norfolk Trotters and horses of other breeds were all used for the sport. Little by little, breeders began to develop a trotting horse bred specifically for excellence on the racetrack.

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