What are the differences between traditional and harness racing?

There is more than one type of horse racing other than the traditional races that you typically see in the big events. While that is the most popular type of gambling, harness racing has appealed to a lot of bettors. Now, let’s take a look at what makes harness racing different from the traditional sport people know of. 

This type of racing is mostly seen in Europe but it is present in other parts of the world including North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Most of the horses that are used in this type of horse racing involve standardbred horses. That is mostly restricted to the North American region because Europe mostly uses French or Russian trotters.

Harness racing is more of a unique experience compared to the traditional type of racing that you’ve most likely seen before. It is a different experience because you will see wheels which are surprising to see in a sport that shows horses’ athleticism. Now, let’s talk about what separates harness racing from what we see in traditional types. 

The use of the sulky

Some people will probably think that sulky is a horse’s name. This is the lightweight cart attached to the horse during the race. Sometimes called a race bike, this is where the driver is located. This means that the jockey will not be sitting on top of the horse’s back anymore. 

You can compare it to chariot racing that you have probably heard of across history. This is important to take note of because this is the biggest difference between traditional horse racing and harness because this is what slightly impedes their speed. Of course, they are still fast but you should expect that the peak speed will not be as fast as traditional racing

Two types of harness racing

When you look into harness racing, you can see that there are two kinds that you will get to watch. The first type is trotting while the second is called pacing. This is important to distinguish because both of these races are fun to watch. 

Trotting involves a diagonal gain where the front leg of one side and the hind leg of the opposite side move forward at the same time. If you look at horses, they trot naturally with their gait. This is important to know because this is the most natural form of harness racing. After all, horses are more comfortable which means that they can be healthier since they don’t have to adjust much.

On the other hand, the pacing is the lateral gait where the horse alternates between using the legs on one side of the body together. This is when the left front and left hind leg will move at the same time which will also happen on the other side. Most of the time, the horses’ feet are connected. Some horses can walk like this naturally which makes them faster than most in pacing. This is known to be a faster race compared to trotting because the horses can cover more ground.

Harness racing is more frequent

The traditional horse racing circuit mostly happens every few weeks or months because it takes a lot from the horses to race at high speeds. They are pushed to the limit in almost every event which they train for but they need to rest as well. 

In harness racing, since the horses will not be going at top speed due to the sulky, they will be more frequent with their races. It has been documented that there is a harness race almost every week because the horses are much fresher compared to the other types of horse racing.

Harness racing does not push the horses too much

During traditional horse races, you can see that the horses go off at a sudden start. This is not true for harness racing because in this format, the horses will start by jogging or briskly walking and then the race starts afterwards.

This is a more natural way to start the race because the horses are not pushed too much. It is a natural way of starting races because they can make bigger strides when the race starts. This has been successful in keeping the horses healthy since harness racing is considered safer than other formats.

You should look at the most popular harness racing events to see how fun they are. In the United States, you can watch the Hambletonian Stakes which is known as the most prestigious harness racing event in that country. 

Australia has the Inter Minion Series which is held yearly. Lastly, the Prix d’Amérique in Paris is the sport’s biggest event as evidenced by its popularity. Continue to look into horse racing because the industry will thrive even more with your support.

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