Harness racing is a fast-paced sport has been producing well-known champions like Dan Patch, Niatross, and Hambletonian for decades. Horses, either Standardbred or other European trotter breeds, pull a lightweight, two-wheeled cart called a sulky, and race around a track to see which pair can complete the course in the fastest time.
Harness racing is differentiated by gait: the pace or the trot. Pacing horses, or "pacers," moves both legs on one side of the body at the same time. Trotting horses, or "trotters," move their legs in diagonal pairs - so as the left front leg moves forward the back right leg is also moving forward, while the right front and back left push backwards.
Not only popular in America, harness racing has quite a following in Australia, New Zealand, and in Europe. One of the first publicized races, The Golden Whip, took place in Holland. From there, more countries started holding races and more breeds specific to harness racing such as the Standardbred, Orlov Trotter, and the French Trotter were created.
Not only did these breeds become more refined for racing, but the equipment did as well. The sulky has been improved upon over the decades for racing. Many racing bikes today are made of lightweight materials such as carbon-fiber, so it's easier for the horse pull at faster speeds.
The most well-known race in America is the Hambletonian, named after Rysdyk’s Hambletonian, the foundation sire of modern trotting horses in the U.S. It draws horses and drivers from all over the world! To win the prestigious Hambletonian title, a horse must win two one-mile heats. It is one of the most publicized horse races in the world today and it's what horses and trainers strive for each year.
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