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Kentucky State Horse, the Thoroughbred, (E. f. caballus,) was adopted in 1996 (KRS 2.087) (a thoroughbred horse is also featured on the Kentucky state quarter). As an assignment, fourth graders in Oldham County, KY had to write letters to the governor/senator about what laws they thought should be passed. Leah Holmes and Lauren Willdeboer wrote that they thought the state horse should be the thoroughbred... and here we are!
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered "hot-blooded" horses, known for their agility, speed and spirit.
The first thoroughbred was brought to Lexington in 1779, and a 1789 census showed even more horses than people. Horses are a multibillion dollar industry in Kentucky. Central Kentucky's bluegrass region has the world's greatest concentration of thoroughbred breeding farms. More registered thoroughbred foals are produced here than any other state - more than 10,000 were foaled in 2000.
The average Thoroughbred stands 16 hands (64") high at the withers, and weighs 1,000 pounds. Its coat colors may be bay, dark bay, chestnut, black, gray, or occasionally roan.
Able to sustain speed for extended distances, the Thoroughbred can run up to 40 miles per hour. Thoroughbreds are used as racehorses and polo mounts,
for show jumping and dressage, and by mounted police units and recreational riders.
The term Thoroughbred describes a breed of horse whose ancestry traces back to three foundation sires - the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian and the Byerly Turk.
Named after their respective owners - Thomas Darley, Lord Godolphin and Captain Robert Byerly - these three stallions were brought to England from the Mediterranean Middle East around the turn of the 17th century and bred to the stronger, but less precocious, native horse.
The result was an animal which could carry weight with sustained speed over extended distances, qualities which brought a new dimension to the burgeoning, aristocratically-supported, sport of horse racing.
So began a selective breeding process which has been going on for more than 250 years, breeding the best stallions to the best mares, with the proof of superiority and excellence being established on the race track.
The law designating the Thoroughbred horse as the official Kentucky state state horse is found in the Kentucky Revised Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 2, Section 2.087.
TITLE I - SOVEREIGNTY AND JURISDICTION OF THE COMMONWEALTH.
CHAPTER 2 - CITIZENSHIP, EMBLEMS, HOLIDAYS, AND TIME.
2.087 State horse.
The Thoroughbred horse is named and designated as the state horse of Kentucky.
Effective:July 15, 1996
History: Created 1996 Ky. Acts ch. 62, sec. 1, effective July 15, 1996.
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Thoroughbred horse
Species: E. ferus
Subspecies: E. f. caballus