Welcome to Equestrian Timelines

Where we research breeds and top-class horses through history and follow there timeline!

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The Origin of the racehorse
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Jumping through History
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History of the German Warmblood

THE ORIGIN OF THE RACEHORSE

 

With the Dubai World Cup setting Dubai alight every year we take a look at the incredible origins of the iconic and thoroughly global Thoroughbred horse and how the breed’s origins all began back in the deserts of the Middle East. The Thoroughbred, the world’s most valuable horse. The best are known for their speed, their power and the ability to captivate an entire nation. Through the ages we’ve seen Secretariat, Red Rum, Man O War and Phar Lap to name a few of the best, yet each and every one links back to three-foundation sires who all originated in our region. The Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian and the Byerley Turk, were all Arabian horses, and each arrived nearly 300 years ago directly from the Middle East.

Captain Robert Byerley captures a magnificent stallion while in Hungary. He admires the horse’s courage in battle, rides it through the remainder of his Crusade and then brings it home to England. The stallion is named the Byerley Turk and begins breeding with native mares and sires many foals. He is described as a horse of elegance, courage and speed.

1688

1704

Things get murkier when Thomas Darley, a diplomat in Aleppo Syria ‘steals’ the Darley Arabian from a Bedouin Sheikh after the initial deal goes sour. The horse is then smuggled back to England via Turkey. The Sheikh wrote to queen Anne of England lamenting that his horse had been stolen, however the Queen did not interject and the Sheikh request for the return of the horse fell on deaf ears.

The Darley Arabian becomes the leading sire of Great Britain and Ireland.

1722

1724

The Godolphin Arabian arrives from Yemen. Originally a gift to the king of France the horse is discarded by the royal and found pulling a cart in Paris. He then changed hands several times before being bought by the second Earl of Godolphin in 1733.

1730

The Godolphin Arabian is small and initially only used as a teaser until a mare called Lady Roxana arrives to be covered by another stallion. She rejects her mate and they cover her with The Godolphin Arabian instead. The resulting foal, Lath, then goes on to win the Queen’s Plate nine times out of nine. The Godolphin Arabian’s legacy is born.

1740

The Godolphin Arabian arrives from Yemen. Originally a gift to the king of France the horse is discarded by the royal and found pulling a cart in Paris. He then changed hands several times before being bought by the second Earl of Godolphin in 1733.

1764

Eclipse is born under a solar eclipse. His great, great grandsire is the Darley Arabian and although he never actually runs a race, he becomes the sire that almost 90 percent of all Thoroughbreds today are descended from.

The era of modern racing begins with the age of racehorses reducing to three-years-old and the inauguration of the St Leger, The Oaks and The Derby races.

1764

1791

Until now, breeding records are incomplete. James 
Weatherby sets about collecting the breeding data and accesses private stud books. His resulting research and consolidation efforts create the first edition of the General Stud Book.

1861

The Melbourne Cup the most significant race in the southern hemisphere is inaugurated.

1875

The first running of the Kentucky Derby is held at Churchill Downs.

1970

Man-o-War is born, he is directly descended from The Godolphin Arabian and goes on to lose only one race in his immensely impressive career. His stride length is measured at an incredible 8.5 metres.

Secretariat is born. Initially considered, ‘too pretty to race,’ he went on to become the first ever two-year-old to be crowned ‘Horse of the Year,’ then in 1973 won the Triple Crown. He went on to set the top speed record for the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby which still stand today.

1992

Racehorses return to their Arabian roots when Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Hamdan and Sheikh Ahmed make the revolutionary decision to leave the bitter English winter behind and bring some of their horses home to Dubai and Godolphin Stud is born.

1917

1996

Eleven of the world’s top racehorses compete in Dubai’s inaugural Dubai World Cup. America’s Cigar wins the impressive purse, and Dubai is placed firmly on the map as a centre for top racing action.

1999

Dubai Millenium wins the Dubai World Cup, he repeats the victory in 2000 and is crowned Best Racehorse in the World.

2005

Research finds that 95% of modern racehorses can be traced back to a single stallion – the Darley Arabian, born in 1700.

Research finds that 95% of modern racehorses can be traced back to a single stallion – the Darley Arabian, born in 1700.

2010

2016

2018

The Dubai Gold Cup is held at Meydan for the first time. With 10 million dollars up for grabs, it is the world’s richest horse racing meet.

Godolphin Lifetime Care is founded to ensure all Godolphin horses are cared for after their racing career finishes.

The Dubai World Cup event sees a prize pot of US$30 million (Dhs110,190,000) across nine top-class races. Godolphin’s own Thunder Snow wins the main event and takes home the staggering US$10million (AED 36,730,000) prize.

 

JUMPING THROUGH HISTORY

Although a relatively new sport, show-jumping has a back- story with all the hallmarks of a genuine thriller... politics, exhilarating races, impressive prize- pots, blood- sports, and an upstanding military gentleman all play their part in the sport we've come to know and love. Yet it took an Italian, initially exiled for his radical new technique, to truly bring the sport into the 21st century and allow the skill, precision and dizzying heights we've come to appreciate today

Image credits- LGCT/Stefano Grasso

1600s

The origins of show-jumping date back to the Enclosure Laws of 1604 which saw the common land in England and Wales being taken from rural communities and ?enclosed?by the ruling elite. Foxhunters ? who had been used to miles of open galloping ? were suddenly faced with fences, boundaries, and obstacles. The focus of good hunt-horse breeding and selection changed from speed to jumping ability.

1700s

By the 1700s, riders had come to realise the exhilaration of jumping large fences and foxhunting gained in popularity. Riders began racing each other from village to village, jumping whatever lay in their path. Starting from one church, competitors raced to the next – using the church steeples to guide their course. The sport of ‘steeple chasing’ was born.

In 1788, show-jumping got its first mention in a French cavalry manual. By the end of the century the French, Spanish, Italian, and Austrian cavalry schools had all taken up jumping too. However, for safety purposes, their technique dictated a heavy backward-leaning seat. Believing the hind legs are stronger than the front, riders approached fences leaning back – with long stirrups – in an effort to encourage a landing on all four legs.

But it was 1865 before the first formal jumping competition took place- held at the Royal Dublin Society Show, the class was called ‘Wide and High Leaps.’ The competition opened with an impressive 366 entries and a combined prize pot of £520 was offered – the equivalent to approximately £114,500 or 
AED 500,000 in today’s money.

1800s

1900s

Fast-forward 19-years more to 1904 and Italian cavalry officer Federico Caprilli earns the title ‘The Father of Modern Riding’, after devising the modern jumping seat. Using new photography techniques, Caprilli studied horses free-jump and hypothesised (quite rightly), that the 'classic seat' was damaging the horse. He experimented with moving the rider up and forward over the horse’s back. While horses everywhere rejoiced, the Italian cavalry establishment were less enthusiastic. Caprilli was removed from his position and transferred to Southern Italy. But his exile didn’t last long. After three years, Italian officers realised just how effective Caprilli’s new technique really was, adopted it, and began dominating the sport. But Caprilli did not live long to enjoy his new fame. He died in 1907, the same year his exile ended, after falling from his horse

Show-jumping went global in 1912 when it became part of the Olympics. The inaugural event had a field of 40 riders from eight nations competing over a 15- obstacle course with a maximum height of 1.40 metres and width of 4.0 metres. Jacques Cariou took home the first ever jumping gold for France.

By the mid-1920s show-jumping still reflected its origins in the hunting field. In newly published rules, four faults were given for a pole knocked with the forelegs but only two for the same offence with a hind. The idiosyncrasies can be directly linked to the dangerous nature of fox-hunting where a trailing foreleg is far more dangerous and likely to tip a horse and rider, than the hind.

At the 1956, Melbourne Olympic Games (although due to quarantine issues the event itself was held in Stockholm) women competed in Olympic equestrian events for the first time with eleven female competitors taking part across all disciplines. Patricia Smythe riding her horse Flanagan represented Great Britain in the team jumping competition and helped secure a Bronze Medal for her country.

In 1991 Germany’s Franke Sloothaak riding Optiebeurs Golo sets an incredible Puissance world record when he cleared 2.4 metres (7ft 10 1/2 in) in Chaudfontaine, Belgium. And, although regular Puissance classes still take place around the globe, Franke’s record has never been beaten.

2000s

in recent years, the sport has begun to draw some of the biggest prize purses in equestrianism. Thanks to the BIG leagues such as the Longines Global Champions Tour, Rolex Grand Slam, Global Championships Tour and more, the prize money now regularly tops many millions.

 

The History of the German Warmblood

Their genes are evident in almost every great jumper and dressage horse today- yet their origins are rooted in transportation and war. Just how did Germany create so many incredibly versatile horses to match each era and need? Germany’s 800-year love affair with the Warmblood has seen the 'type' meet every human need- from knights' charger to high-moving carriage horse, cavalry mount to agricultural beast of burden, through to today's top competition horse. In fact, the Warmblood is neither a breed nor a single type. From Germany there are Hanovarians, Holsteiners, Bavarians, Trekhainers and more, and not forgetting the KWPN from Holland, the French Selle Francais and the Irish Draft. Generally standing over 15.2hh, the Warmblood was created by crossing 'cold-blooded' draft horses with those with hotter temperaments such as the Thoroughbred, Friesian and Arabian. Each Warmblood type has both developed and evolved to meet the needs of of the region in which it originated.

1300s

For War and Games

1600s

The elite of the Schleswig-Holstein region of North Germany, encourage local monks to improve the local wild horses, primarily for war efforts and jousting competitions.

Selective Breeding

Historical documents and artifacts from the time depict warriors and knights on horseback. The need for high quality horses which could withstand the ferocity of a medieval battlefield was obvious.

After the German reformation, stud farms become the responsibility of the state. In time, the first Warmblood 'type,' is recognised- the Holsteiner. The Oldenburger is born when Count Anton Gunther von Oldenburg chooses Spanish stallions to breed with his Friesian mares, in the process he creates an expressive and much sought after carriage horse- sending European aristocrats into a frenzy.

In 1732 the Trakehner breed is developed in Prussia (now Poland/Russia). In 1735 the State Stud of Celle is founded when 14 Holsteiner stallions are imported and crossed with local draft horse mares. The aim is to create carriage and cavalry horses.

1700s

Further Development

1800s

Changing Times

As steam trains begin to cross Europe, the need for coach horses with extreme endurance diminishes. In response, Warmblood development changes focus again. Baroque (Friesian and Spanish) stallions to improve stud books fall out of favour and focus now turns to the hotter and finer Thoroughbred and Arabian.

1900s

A horse for all seasons

As World War One ends- so does the need for the need for cavalry horses. The German stud farms now turn their attention to creating light, versatile and good-natured agricultural horses which can also be ridden.

Near Disaster

1940s

1944- The Trakehner stud farms are evacuated as the Russians advance through Prussia. The people and their precious Trakehner horses embark on what is now called Der Treck (‘The Flight’) west. Crossing the barely frozen East Sea, mostly at night. Horses and humans are lost in vast numbers. From the 18,000 prize Trakehners which set out on the incredible journey, only 21 of the toughest mares remain to restart the post-war stud book.

1950s

The era of the sports horse

Horses are no longer required by the military and breeding now focuses entirely on sports horse development .

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