Early Life

Early life

Thoroughbred horses are born as either a colt or a filly on stud farms all around the world. The average birth weight for a foal is 8st 9lb (55 kilograms) and most foals are able to stand, walk and nurse in the first two hours of life.

In the early months of life, foals begin to develop a bond with people and have regular contact with those who care for their wellbeing, including veterinarians, farriers and stud grooms. At six months of age the weaning process begins and as horses approach the yearling stage they are prepared for breaking-in.

Some horses are sold by their breeders or owners at public auction at various stages throughout their life. There are specific types of sales, which can include foal, yearling, horses-in-training and broodmare sales.

Glossary about early life

Thoroughbred

The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horseracing. Thoroughbreds are considered “hot-blooded” horses, known for their speed, agility and spirit. The Thoroughbred can be traced back to three stallions, the Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Arabian.

Colt

The term used to describe a male horse which is under 4 years of age in the Southern Hemisphere or 5 years of age in the Northern Hemisphere. Once it reaches the age referenced it becomes an ‘entire’. If a colt or entire has been gelded (castrated) it is then referred to as a gelding.

Filly

The term used to describe a female horse which is under 4 years of age in the Southern Hemisphere or 5 years of age in the Northern Hemisphere. Once the horse reaches the age referenced it becomes a ‘mare’.

Stud Farms

A stud is a farm where stallions and mares reside, are mated, and foals are born and reared in early life.

Foal

A horse is classified as a foal up until the age of 1. Foals are born between the months of January and July in the Northern Hemisphere and the recognised birthday of all horses in the Northern Hemisphere is 1st January. In the Southern Hemisphere foals are born between August and December and the recognised birthday of all horses in the Southern Hemisphere is 1st July (South America) or 1st August (Australia, New Zealand and South Africa).

Farriers

A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses’ hooves and the placing of shoes on their hooves.

Stud Grooms

Staff that work with horses on a stud farm.

Weaning

When foals reach a certain age, usually between 6 months to a year, they no longer rely on their mother’s milk and are separated from the mare.

Yearling

A one-year-old horse.

Breaking-in

This is the process where young horses are taught to be ridden.

Sales

A number of horses are sold by their breeders or owners at public auctions throughout the year.