American Standardbred Horse

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
fast facts

About American Standardbred Horse

900-1200 lb
Robust, medium build
25-30 years
Best Suited For
Anyone who wants to spend time with a calm equine companion, as well as riders and racers who enjoy a horse with great speed and stamina
Calm, active, friendly, intelligent, enjoys human company, trainable
Comparable Breeds
Thoroughbred Horse, Morgan Horse
14.2-17.2 hands (56.8-68.8")
American Standardbred Horse Breed History

The American Standardbred horse was developed during the 19th century in the United States. These strong animals were mainly used in harness racing, and are still popular for its beauty, personality, speed, and agility.

The original sire for this breed was an English Thoroughbred named Messenger, who was imported into the United States in 1788. That horse’s offspring was then bred with other horse types and breeds, including the Morgan Horse, in particular, in order to produce a breed of fast pacers and trotters.

The American Standardbred Horse is popular for its beauty, personality, speed, and agility.

Hambletonian was Messenger’s great grandson, as well as an outstanding and unique Standardbred sire. That horse’s descendants are the ones that dominate this horse breed today.

The breed’s name was created in the early part of its development, when the animals were registered in Wallace’s American Trotting Register, which was the official studbook at the time. The horses were registered only if they were able to meet the standards set for speed, including being able to trot a mile in just 2½ minutes. Therefore, the breed’s official history dates from 1871, with the establishment of the National Association of Trotting Horse Breeders. This was succeeded by the American Trotting Register Association, which is now known as the U.S. Trotting Association.

Breed Traits

The American Standardbred Horse is a steady, friendly, and calm breed that has great endurance and stamina and enjoys being active. Despite their love of racing and speed, these unique horses are also relaxed, and they thoroughly enjoy spending time with their human companions, making them ideal for all horse owners and riders.

Although these horses are popular in the world of horse racing, and in harness racing in particular, they are also a great option for those who simply seek an equine companion who will be a reliable and loving animal for tranquil and fun rides along beautiful trails or through open fields.

The American Standardbred Horse is a steady, friendly, and calm breed.

Overall Description

American Standardbred horses are bred and known for their speed. They are rugged and robust horses that are capable of performing a variety of tasks, but they are especially suited to racing in a harness against other horses. Overall, they resemble the Thoroughbred horse breed closely, though American Standardbred horses are typically smaller with lower, longer bodies, heavier bones, and flatter ribs.

This breed features sloping, strong, and long shoulders, as well as a high, long croup. Its back is short, and the chest is thick and deep, with the ribs being well sprung. The neck of this breed is slightly arched, as well as muscular, lean, and medium to long in size.

Also, this breed’s mane, like its tail, is distinctly thick. Its withers are well defined, and the legs are muscular. The animal’s throatlatch should be clean, the head should be carried at a moderate or a high level, the hooves should be tough, durable, and large, and the hocks of this horse should be clean, deep, and wide.

The overall build of the American Standardbred Horse allows it to be accurate when it runs at high speeds, and the muscles allow for long, fluid strides. The head is also proportionate to the rest of the horse’s body, and it is chiseled, straight, and refined. There is a broad forehead complemented with large nostrils, a small muzzle, and a shallow mouth. The ears are also small to medium in size and set wide on the head. This horse’s eyes are clear and large as well, making it attractive.

Finally, this breed has two gaits, which are the pace and the trot. The trot is the gait of harness horses within this breed. On the other hand, pacers have a more efficient gait, allowing them to run faster than trotters.

American Standardbred horses are bred and known for their speed.


The American Standardbred Horse comes in a range of colors that include brown, bay, chestnut, black, and sometimes gray. However, the breed does not feature any patches or spots, and bay is the most common color.

Grooming Requirements

Just like other horse breeds, the American Standardbred Horse should be groomed regularly. Hoof care should be a daily ritual to prevent infections, and brushing should be done weekly, at a minimum, although show horses should be groomed daily.

Grooming is a great way to maintain a healthy relationship with your horse, as it is a wonderful way to bond with your equine companion. But grooming is also necessary in order to keep your horse looking beautiful. You can use standard horse grooming tools to keep your American Standardbred looking and feeling great.

For example, you can use a hoof pick to remove rocks and debris from your horse’s hooves, and you can make sure this breed’s luxurious tail always looks perfect by using a tail brush. Also, using a curry comb, a dandy brush, and a shedding blade will help remove debris and loose hair from the horse’s coat. A mane comb will keep the mane looking lovely, while a body finishing brush can be used on sensitive areas, such as the horse’s face and legs.

Photo credit:; Jackie Wimbush/Bigstock; mobiusness/Bigstock

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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