About This Word

blood horse

or blood-horse or bloodhorse

[bluhd hawrs]

What does blood horse mean?

A blood horse is either a Thoroughbred or a purebred horse, bred especially for racing.

bloodhorse

Blogs – BloodHorse

Where does blood horse come from?

The term bloodhorse dates back to 1615 as a term for a horse of good descent. Its usage spread in the 18th and 19th centuries to refer to the English Thoroughbred racehorse breed.

The name may derive from the idea of blood as pedigree or from the concept of hot-blooded and cold-blooded horses.

In an 1857 book Horse and Horsemanship, English author Henry William Herbert describes blood as “descent, through the American or English race-horse, from the oriental blood of the desert,” referring to the Arabian horses that were the ancestors of the Thoroughbred. In the same book, he contrasts the blood horse with the “cold-blooded cart horse.”

An 1871 article in the former southern US agrarian journal, Southern Cultivator, also uses blood to point to pure breeding, but blood horse to refer specifically to Thoroughbreds. Indeed, the two ideas are related as hot-blooded can describe an Arab or Thoroughbred Horse.

The equestrian magazine Blood-Horse was founded in 1916 to cover horse-racing and topics related to Thoroughbred horses. It’s currently still in print.

Who uses blood horse?

Bloodhorse was more popular in the 19th century than it is today. Use of the word declined over the course of the 20th century. A blogger on British-Regency-era history suggested that many modern people first encountered the term in novels that took place in the 19th century.

Although use of the term Thoroughbred has also decreased over the 20th century, it was and still is much more commonly used than bloodhorse, especially by equestrians.

For example

I haven't been watching the prep races or reading Blood Horse this year! such a slacker

@88shenanigans, April 2013

That which the blood horse does possess is a degree of strength in his bones, sinews and frame at large, utterly out of proportion to the size or apparent strength of that frame.

Henry William Herbert, quoted in The Wisconsin Farmer, 1859

The late John Randolph, a connoisseur as well as an amateur in all such matters, used to say, that the long, slouching walk of the blood horse would tell, even in the plough, in a hot summer's day.

William Youatt, The Horse, 1853

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