What is Harness Racing

All of us have heard of, or rather very familiar with the sport of Horse racing which is conducted worldwide in various levels which also has a major part of gambling associated to it. But how many of you have heard of Harness racing? Here’s an insight on Harness racing and its associated details.

Harness racing is also another form of sport involving horse racing wherein the hoses race at a specific way of walking. A two wheeled cart commonly termed as a sulky is been pulled by the horses and guided by a jockey around an oval race track. European harness racing uses a saddle in the place of sulky.

Harness racing is predominantly conducted in two gaits namely trotting and pacing. The basic difference between the two is that trotter horses takes a diagonal gait which is natural i.e. front right and hind left legs strike the ground at the same time and it’s the same with front left and hind right legs, whereas a pacer horse takes a lateral gait with front and hind right legs together at pace with front and hind left.

Trotting is very common or rather most conducted among harness racing in Europe, whereas in places like Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada and United Kingdom, racing is dominated by pacers. In fact almost 90% of harness racing constitutes pacing in North America. Pacers are generally faster and thereby the chance of breaking a stride is very less. In addition, the hopples they were, connecting the legs on both sides is believed to help them to remain on their gait without deviation.

Harness races mostly start from behind a gate that is motorized and the horses are taken to the starting line by a motor vehicle on which the horses are mounted behind a hinged gate. At the start of the race, the gates are opened and vehicles are withdrawn from the horses, thereby beginning the race. From there, the horse starts pulling the sulky which is directed by the rider who carries a whip to give signals to the horse by either tapping or striking the shaft of the sulky. The races are generally for a distance of one mile and the winner would be the fastest horse who reaches the assigned mark. The climax of harness races is always close and spectacular indeed.

Harness racing in many parts of the world is dominated by Standardbred horses. These horses are considered more suitable for racing due to its longer bodies and relatively shorter legs which helps in competing with the strategy of the race. Not only that, Standardbred horses were considered one among the few who could perform trotting or pacing a mile in a standard time.

Even today harness racing continues to be a favorite past time sport which has gained immense popularity in many countries.