The Standardbred horse is considered to be the fastest harness horse on earth. The Morgan Horse held the title until the mid 1800s when a Standardbred named "Hambletonian 10" was foaled. This horse became the foundation sire.
The breed got its name from the fact it must meet a quota of standards in order to be registered with the breed; first it must be tested in the mile run and meet a certain timed speed or it must meet a standard of breeding to be registered with the breed. The name "Standardbred" wasn't first used until 1879.
It has reduced the time of the mile by a whole minute, which is down thirty percent of the original breed record. The Standardbred is also an ancestor of the Thoroughbred, which is where it gets a good portion of its appearance.
The breeders of the first stock of the Standardbred horse were very selective of the horses they wanted in the bloodline. They wanted all the horses that could contribute to the speed of the horse, making it the fastest horse imaginable. The breeds that were selected were the Naragansette pacer, Canadian Pacer, English Thoroughbred, Norfolk Trotters, the Hackney, and the Morgan. There was one very well known sire that came from this group of horses, a gray English Thoroughbred named "Messenger". This horse was actually the descendant of the famous foundation sire of the Standardbred, "Hambletonian 10" who was also known as Rydysk's Hambletonian. His owners sold him believing he would never amount to anything, but as mentioned grew up to be the foundation sire of the breed. Many of today's Standardbreds can be traced back to him.
Besides being widely used on the racetrack, the Standardbred is also used in a variety of different tasks. They are commonly used for pleasure riding as well as in horse shows; they can also be seen being used as buggy horses for the Amish. When these horses are retired from the race life, they often find a second home and career in the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization. Also, because these horses excel in jumping, they become ideal for being used in the sport horse disciplines of hunt seat, show jumping, show hunter, eventing, and finally, they can be often found competing in dressage. Since they display such a good temperament, they are also often used as ranch horses and for trail riding.
Because the Standardbred was a breed that was selectively bred for all types of racing and trotting, it's no surprise they have a great list of record holders. Some of these record horses are as follows: in 1867, "Dexter" trotted the required one mile registration race in two minutes and nineteen seconds (the required time must be below two minutes and thirty seconds); then later in 1897, "Star Pointer" completed with a time of one minute and fifty-nine seconds; then in 1907, he completed in one minute and fifty-seven seconds. The greatest of all these records was set in 1938 by "Greyhound" with a time of one minute and fifty-five seconds; his record was untouched for thirty years.