Strong abdominal muscles
The ideal racehorse will have a robust skeletal frame to act as a strong, secure base for the
attachment and working of well-developed muscles that will deliver speed and power. The
hindquarters, supported by the flanks and loins, are where the propulsive power of the racehorse
is generated, and this is where we should be looking first to judge whether a horse has the
physical capability to run faster than the rest of the field.
You may notice a contrast in muscle development between sprinters and stayers. As with human
athletes, sprinters tend to be more powerfully built than long distance runners. Differences in
muscle contour are largely due to the type of muscle fibre that predominates in a horse’s breeding.
Sprinters have a high proportion of bulky, ‘fast twitch’ muscles which provide a short but intense
burst of pre-stored energy which can’t be replenished during a race. The staying type of horse
has a higher proportion of ‘slow twitch’ fibres which are less bulky and can function for a
longer time without tiring.
Good muscle definition is also essential in the loin area, which is between the back of the
saddle and the pelvis; and in the abdominals, the pectorals (chest muscles) and the neck.