Horses Accept People In Their Herd
Equestrians all have one thing in common and that is their love for their horses, regardless of the breed. They are basically prey animals with a genetic instinct for flight or fight if they feel they are threatened. However, they will stay and fight if they sense by their leaving, it would put a foal, for instance, at harm. They are also herd animals, being comfortable around other horses as well as humans and, with the exception of wild horse or feral horses, adapt to being around people and their riders,
There are few true wild horses today, such as those usually called mustangs, in the northwest and other small areas of the United States. Most are feral, meaning their ancestors, may have been domesticated, but the breed is now living wild. There are two schools of thought of how the different breeds came to be different sizes, mostly focusing on DNA evolution, but modern horse breeds were developed to perform specific activities.
For example, the Arabian horses were developed to be quick with endurance over long runs for the dry climates in which they were raised, The Belgian horse, typically about 19-hands high, about 76-inches, were raised for pulling plows through the fields and are still used for that purpose today in some cultures.
Cold, Hot and Warm Blooded Horses
While all horses are considered warm-blooded mammals, the term mean something different when it comes to their breeding. Larger horses such as a Belgian, Shire and Clydesdales are developed with the patience pulling plow or carriages of people and are considered cold-blooded. The Clydesdales are probably the most easily recognized due to the long hair above their ankles.
Horses considered hot-blooded are those developed for speed and agility as well as endurance. Breeds such as Arabian and Thoroughbred can give their riders an exciting ride as well as great satisfaction as they tend to be quick learners with intelligence and communication capability. They can, however also quickly learn bad habits from poor riders and they typically do not tolerate abusive training techniques.
Warm-blooded horses are usually a cross between hot and cold-blooded horses, such as the Irish Draught, and can be large enough for work on a farm as well being ridden by humans. They are also favored in most World Equestrian Games competition such as show jumping and dressage, being dominant in these events since the 1950’s.
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Thoroughbred Horse Racing Traditions
For some people like ranchers, trainers, and racing aficionados, life is governed by the traditions of a horse’s lifecycle. No foal is born without having been bred, which includes analyzing each parent’s blood line, calculating genetic probabilities, and negotiating stud fees. There are races for each stage in a young horse’s life capped by a time when it is turned out “to pasture” and some years of retirement and parenthood.
However, even for the casual fan of thoroughbred horse racing, there are enjoyable traditions, usually based around the races.
The Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby may be as much about partying as about thoroughbred horse racing. It is actually a two day event, with a race for fillies the day before the main race. During these two days, it is estimated that 80,000 mint juleps are consumed around the racetrack. The well-heeled sip from frosted sterling glasses in roomy boxes. Many of the society ladies, true to the scene in “My Fair Lady”, dress up in their finest for Derby Day, even up to enormous hats and silk dresses.
The middle of the track is, in contrast, more like a mosh pit. The people who pay the fairly low ticket price know they cannot actually see much of the race, but go for the party instead. Hunter S. Thompson famously criticized the atmosphere in the 1970 essay, “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.”
Whether or not the scene at Churchill Downs is like the way Thompson described it – that is something worth debating. But plenty of fans create their own party at home, of whatever character they like, whether or not they really know much about thoroughbred horse racing, it is still a good opportunity for a get-together. Many families originally from Kentucky have Derby Parties, which might just be a few friends sitting around watching the game together, or a bigger event, maybe with betting, and generally with drinking.
Derby Day brings many Kentuckians out for some kind of thoroughbred horse racing related activity. Since the 1930s, it has been a tradition for the governor to hold a public breakfast in the state capital, Frankfort. As many people as want to come for a free breakfast and entertainment. Tourists also flood the area for Derby Day, and plenty of cities and towns are ready to welcome them with their own thoroughbred horse racing traditions. Many people dare not brave Churchill Downs and instead attend public parties at various places that set up huge outdoor screens to broadcast the race or family-oriented gatherings that offer pony rides for kids.
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