Show Horses vs. Racehorses

Sports enthusiasts from all over come to watch horse shows and races alike. The audience for each is very different, just like the horses. Each have their very own unique set of skills. Many people have a love for horses and appreciate their beauty, but don’t necessarily know difference between race and show horses.

To start, one difference that doesn’t have much to do with the horses is that horse racing has more spectators overall, including those who might not even know much about horses. This is because of the sports betting that is involved with horse racing. Many people get involved from afar, either at casinos or online. It is a fun way to be connected to a sport that you otherwise might not be very involved in.


Photo by Wikimedia

Let’s begin by sharing some basic facts about most racehorses and the sport itself. First of all, horseracing can definitely be a very complicated sport, and most people don’t know much about it beyond the Triple Crown. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad press surrounding the sport due to the way some owners treat their horses. Furthermore, note the following:

  • Racehorses are endurance horses.
  • Most racehorses are thoroughbreds, but there are some Quarter horse races and Arabian horse races, as well as Appaloosa horse races. They just aren’t as common.
  • Racehorses tend to be very young and fit, and they’re fed different feed that some refer to as “rocket fuel.”
  • Racehorses are very high-energy and need very careful handling at times.
  • Because racehorse trainers focus on their speed, they tend to not focus on their manners as much, and, therefore, they tend to be harder to handle overall.
  • Unfortunately, a known fact about racehorses is that if they get too old, are too badly injured or simply aren’t winning anymore, they get disposed of. Those horses that are unable to be sold or used elsewhere are usually taken to a slaughterhouse. This is the largest reason for the sport’s bad rap.
  • The best racehorses are bred over and over and over again.

Show Horses

Photo by Pxhere

A national show horse  is considered a multi-talented horse. It is commonly used in dressage, endurance riding, general riding and jumping activities. In addition:

  • Show horses are generally a healthy breed of horses, with no known breed-specific health issues. Their owners do not breed them as much and are known to give them regularly veterinary checkups.
  • National show horses are generally Arabian or American Saddlebred. In fact, show horses must include 50-99% Arabian blood in order to even be registered as a national show horse.
  • Show horses tend to be older and are expected to have much better behavior than a racehorse.
  • Show horses are groomed at a higher standard, which might even include plaiting manes and tails.
  • A horse doesn’t have to be included in the national show horse registry to be considered a show horse. They can also compete at the local 4H shows or small, local farm-hosted shows, clubs or groups just for fun or leisure.

There is so much more to learn about each of these sports and these beautiful animals. Enjoy!