December 16, 2023

Horse races are an internationally popular form of competition between horses for prize money, which are enjoyed across cultures worldwide. Flat horse racing generally pits purebred competitors against each other on an oval track and must meet certain criteria such as pedigree (family tree). Aside from pedigree requirements, other considerations include age and weight considerations to qualify.

Horses are highly specialized mammals. Being prey animals, their instinct is to flee from danger; thus when in close proximity such as during horse races they are subjected to such intense whipping that often results in broken bones or even deaths.

Jockeys provide the human touch in horse races by being trained to guide horses at breakneck speeds without endangering themselves or other participants. A skilled jockey can use his whip to control pace during races while expertly steering his mount through tight turns.

Jockeys typically receive a commission or share of the prize pool when winning a race, which varies based on both race type and jurisdiction; generally speaking though it will comprise a substantial proportion of it.

Other terms you might hear at a horse race include:

Out-gunned: when a horse has the potential to win but is up against an overwhelming field.

Take off the Bridle: When a horse isn’t traveling well.

One-paced: when a horse cannot respond quickly enough as the pace of a race increases.

Open ditch: Fences that feature an open ditch on their take-off side, forcing horses to make longer leaps than at plain fences.

Pony Horse: Pony horses are regular-sized horses used to accompany racehorses during morning training sessions and transport them directly to their starting gates in the afternoon. Most pony horses are Thoroughbred ex-racehorses.

Ruled off: When a horse is no longer allowed on racetrack grounds due to misbehavior. This can be especially devastating for hardworking ex-racehorses that have had successful careers on racetracks; many then end up in slaughter pipelines where they are charged arbitrary and sometimes outrageous ransoms for their freedom. Luckily there are dedicated nonprofit rescues which work tirelessly in fundraising and saving these beautiful creatures from this fate.

Photo Finish: When a race is so close that it is impossible to determine its winner through naked eye, photos must be examined closely by stewards in order to ascertain who won.

Plate: a plate trophy awarded to the winner of a lower-tier race such as a turf sprint. Plates are typically presented on a table alongside more traditional trophies for higher-tier events, instead of sitting atop them as is commonly the case.