Standardbred Horse: Info & Guidance

Last Updated on June 7, 2020 by Allison Price

What is a Standardbred Horse?

The Standardbred is an American horse breed popular for its harness racing ability. Harness Racing is where the members of the breed compete on a trot or pace. They are solid, well-built horses with good dispositions. The Standardbred is used in a variety of equestrian activities. This includes horse shows and pleasure riding, specifically in the United States.

Standardbreds are descended from thoroughbred racehorses. Those two have a similar lean build, but Standardbreds has shorter legs and heavier bones. It originated in the USA around 200 years ago. It received its name in 1879 when it became necessary for horses to meet a speed standard.

There are two distinct types of standardbreds: trotters and pacers.


Trotters move diagonally paired legs simultaneously. This means moving its back left leg at the same time moving his right front leg. Also, its front left leg moves in unison with the rear right leg. A trotting racehorse performs this gait at high speed. Some trotters wear trotting hopples, a basic front leg loops, to help in keeping the gait.


Pacers move the legs together on the same side of their bodies. They are far more common on the racetrack than trotters. It’s a lateral gait rather than a diagonal one. Most pacers wear hopples on all four legs to help with gait maintenance. Occasionally, you may see a free-legged pacer or a horse racing without hopples. Pacers appear to race faster than their trotting relatives.

Standardbred pacers and trotters compete in separate races, not against each other.

Standardbred Horse Physique

  • They are smaller and shorter-legged than Thoroughbred. The most common color is bay, chestnut, brown, black but the roans, grays, and duns are sometimes are found. The average height of standardbred is 15 to 16 hands, and the weight is usually 900 to 1300 pounds.
  • Head: The head must be well proportioned to the rest of the body. It must be sleek, straight, and chiseled. It has a broad forehead, large nostrils, shallow mouth, and small muzzles. The ears should be sized medium to small, set wide, and functional. The eyes must be large and clear, reflecting the horse’s calm nature.
  • Body: The Standardbred has a long, sloping, strong shoulder. They also have long, high croup, short back, and a much longer bottom line than the rest.
  • The chest is thick and deep, and the ribs sprung up well. Muscling is heavy and long which allows a long, fluid step.
  • The neck should be slightly arched, lean and muscular, and medium-to-long. Its throatlatch must be clean and the head carried either high or at a moderate level. Its withers well-defined and extending well back beyond the top of the shoulder.
  • The legs are hard and very correct in their action with muscling both inside and out. The hocks are wide, deep, and clean. The hooves are large, tough, and durable.

Standardbred Horse Characteristic:

1.       They are famous for their speed and athletic ability.

2.       Well-muscled, long body.

3.       Powerful shoulders and hindquarters and solid legs.

4.       Slightly heavier than Thoroughbred.

5.       The standardbred is renown for the harness racing.

6.       They often have feathers behind the fetlock.

7.       They are branded with a coded freeze brand on the right neck.

Is Standardbred Horse Good For Beginners?

Absolutely not, unless the horse is train already.

 Standardbreds are preferably recommended only to those who are experienced riders. Standardbreds are bred for racing and need to be trained before general riding. This is because the standardbred is not an easy gaited horse. If trained correctly and consistently, they will adapt well to other tasks.

The Standardbred needs an owner who’s ready to appoint a trainer. Or someone who has time and experience to devote retraining the animal. These horses are ideal for an active person who wants a horse with a sound temperament. Once trained, standardbred is excellent for child or beginner riders.

Standardbred Horse Temperament & Life Expectancy


Standardbred usually has good temperament. They are gentle, docile, calm, and intelligent horses. They are easily trained for racing complete as either Trotter or pacers. Beyond physical attributes, their enthusiastic docile personality sets them apart from other breeds.


 The Standardbred has a life expectancy of 25 years.

Taking Care Of Standardbred Horses: Grooming, Disease Condition & Feeding


The standardbred horses should have to need a groom regularly. Grooming is the best procedure to keep your horse healthy and pleasant. Hoof care is a requirement to prevent infections. Grooming is the best way to maintain a healthy coat and also necessary for looking and feeling great. To maintain a healthy relationship with your horse, you must groom the animal properly. It gives you a beautiful, healthy, and disease-free horse.

Disease Condition

Standardbreds normally run every fortnight for up to 11 years. Its health issues are often associated with general wear and tear. Potential owners should check for problems in the feet, tendons and suspensory ligaments. You might as well check for arthritis in lower joints and the lower fetlock and pastern.

Muscular Disorder in most Standardbred Horses is a common problem. Sometimes it can be fatal and frustrating in your horse. They appear to share a disorder causing tying -up during horse training. This occurs when clinical manifestations rarely or never noticed during actual racing exercise. This condition is referred to as recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER). Diseases are far more common in fast horses. This is because fast horses permit more rapid muscular processes above the cellular level. This leads to more strain muscles and exhaustion. 


An inexperienced person will have difficulty in detecting faults in your horses. Avoid this by asking professionals directly. 


Your horse should have to need good quality feed because they are less able to digest poor quality feeds. Horses do the heavy work. The young growing horses may also need a supplementary feed at other times the year. In most cases, the first-choice substitute would be good quality grass in the form of hay. Standardbreds in training will generally be able to intake 2.25-2.5% of its body weight daily. This work in a 60-65% concentrate to 35-40% roughage mix.

You should keep standardbreds on an acre of land, at least. Their paddock should be well fenced and barbed wire should be avoided.

The Uses Of Standardbred Horse

A standardbred is a popular racing animal. This is mainly because they provide the opportunity for owners to train and drive them. You can use them for harness racing and other sports such as speed games, jumping. Standardbred is also used in distance riding, competitive carriage, and pleasure driving.

Standardbred Horses for Harness Racing

The term Standardbred introduced in 1879 to differentiate those trotting horses. They met a certain “standard” for the distance of a mile. Before 1940, when all times were registered in fifths, the horses were clocked in.25 seconds. The current standard is 2.20 minutes for 2-yr-olds and 2.15 minutes for 3-yr-olds. The standard distance is always one mile.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!