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The Origin of All Thoroughbreds!

Updated on March 29, 2012

Ivor, son of Big Ivor, grandson of Sir Ivor

First Home to England

Original Weatherbys stud books
Original Weatherbys stud books

First of the Foundation Stallions

The Byerley Turk arrived in England in 1689, he came via Ireland.

So named because he was captured from a Turk by Captain Robert Byerley,at the Battle of Buda, and where he want on to serve as his warhorse. After being sent to Ireland this great Stallion also saw service with Captain Byerley at The Battle of the Boyne.

Second of the Great Foundation Stallions

The Syrian Connection

The Darley Arabian, so named because of his owner Thomas Darley was born in 1699 in Syria.

As a four year old he was bought by Mr. Darley and transported to England where he was used at stud , being bred to many mares. The most exceptional of these mares was Betty Leeds.

Godolphin Arabian by Stubbs

Last but not Least

The Godolphin Arab was acquired by Lord Godolphin and arrived in England in 1724. Born in Yemen, he travelled into both Syria and Tunis before being given to the then King of France as a gift.

Once in England he was bred with several mares though the most notable is a mare called Roxanne who was the dam of a colt named Lath, possibly one of the greatest racehorses in England.

From these three Stallions

It would appear from all the research and reading I have done over the years that the three beautiful horses depicted are the true cornerstones of the breed that has become The English Thoroughbred. And it all started in England! Here in 1791 the General Stud Book was initiated by James Weatherby, a name which is central to all things horsey to this day.

It is sad to note that there is not more recognition given to the foundation mares of which there much have been a considerable number.

I have mentioned 2 by name, maybe three. They came from a variety of native Great British breeds, amongst those is included The Irish Hobby and Scottish Galloways. However there were also mares of foreign breed imported, doubtless to improve speed and stamina. These included Barbs and Turks but the number was not substantial.

Of course from the original British Thoroughbred came the American Thoroughbred and these can be traced back in the American Stud Book to:-

Son of Bylerley Turk........King Herod

Son of Darley Arabian......Eclipse

Son of Godolphin Arab....Matchen, these three horses being great in their own right.

There are so many more details I could include in this hub, and a million more pictures, because I love the breed and consider them to be very different and extremely versatile. They are used in Racing, Eventing, Showjumping, and yes even in Mounted Games(Gymkhanaring). I do not know if it still exists but i do know that there was a society that rescued abandon or failed racehorses and retrained them for such fun!


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    • clairemy profile image

      Claire 6 years ago

      Thankyou for your comment and the mention of Ivor. He was my daughters horse who was given to us as a rescue. Quite the character!

    • Talullah profile image

      Talullah 6 years ago from SW France

      Very very interesting, with some wonderful photos! I love horses and really enjoyed this hub, especially the photo of Ivor at the top of the article!