Horse racing is a sport that can be traced back to ancient times but when it officially became during the 12th century, when Crusaders returned with Arab horses and bred them with the sport as we know it today is open to debate. Some say it first reared its head in the UK English horses. Others, however, maintain that evidence points to horse racing existing in the Roman times.

In the modern day, according to a 2013 study by Deloitte, horse racing is worth a staggering 3.4bn to the UK economy overall. Needless to say, it has also made substantial contributions to the American and Canadian economies respectively, as well as being hugely popular in countries such as Australia, China, and Japan.

When and where horse domestication began is another subject of dispute. Some reports indicate that horse taming goes back 6000 years to Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan. Later studies, however, suggest an archaeological site located in Saudi Arabia, 9000 years ago, was the birthplace of horse domestication. Either way, it is fair to say that horses were first acquainted with the human race quite some time ago.

Some Problems Along the Way

The exact methods of horse taming will undoubtedly have wavered throughout the centuries. However, it is fair to say with some certainty that, even with the passing of substantial time, one factor has persisted. Horse taming, whilst commonplace throughout history, is not always straightforward.

Rather unsurprisingly, not all horses are much a fan of having humans sit on their back. For various reasons, such as the breed of the horse or its mental condition, it is not uncommon for horse taming to be an upwards battle ending in defeat. Nevertheless, this small minority has not prevented the fact that the horse is one of the most easily tamed animals in history.


The Benefits of Science

Another thing that has seen immense change throughout the years is the way in which horses are trained. For instance, in the modern day, trainers have at their disposal an array of of vitamins and supplements to improve their horses’ performance. Of course, back in the day, trainers did not have the benefit of scientific innovation at their disposal, and were left with no choice but to rely on their horse performing with raw, natural ability.

How much of an effect these supplements have, however, is certainly questionable. Averaging at a speed of 40-48 kmh, some would argue that the horse is more than capable without the need for enhancement. For instance, the racehorse Frankel, officially the best runner of all time, won every race he was ever entered in, including by ten lengths in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in 2011. Similarly, a recent infographic made by Betway Sports notes that, in a race over 4,023 metres, a horse would come second behind a pronghorn, the fastest animal on earth according to National Geographic.

Building Relationships

Whilst horses are largely seen as a feature of sport, it would be extremely cold to completely forget about the bond that trainers develop with their horses. In terms of treatment, some believe that grooming as massage has benefits such as improving a horse’s comfort and movement. Additionally, it can be seen as quality time between trainer and horse.

Rather curiously, companies like Leap Equine have demonstrated that grooming horses can be beneficial for people suffering from autism, while a study involving 22 participants showed that massaging can lower anxiety levels. Aside from horse racing as a sport, this shows a softer side to the relationship between humans and horses; there are benefits to be reaped on both sides. Although, it goes without saying that stronger relations are likely to have a positive effect for both horse and rider on the racecourse too.


Where Are We Now?

As a sport, horse racing is becoming increasingly accessible, and the introduction of television in the 50s and 60s has only brought the sport to wider audiences. Nowadays, around 600 million people tune in for the Grand National. Horse racing has also entered the realms of mobile applications. Apps such as Horse Races Now allow users to interact with all elements of the sport from links to horse racing schedules to live audio and video streams.

Horse racing is a sport that has stood the test of time. It has persevered throughout ancient times all the way to the technological world of today, and it is not likely to depart from the sporting world anytime soon.