The Trottingbred is rare breed of harness racing pony developed in America from the 1950s to the 1980s. In the 1950s, Standardbreds were crossed with ponies known for their elegance and trotting abilities. These breeds included the Hackney pony, the American Shetland and the Welsh pony. The result was a miniature Standardbred suitable for the little-known hobby of pony harness racing. The ponies ate less, were healthier and needed less space than horses.
The foundation sire is generally considered to be a dark bay stallion named Lothario. However, there have been many stallions of several breeds with that name. Although a photo exists of Lothario on the website for the American Harness Driver’s Club, not much else is known about him, except his sire’s name was Florican and his dam, Lasagne, was sired by the Standardbred stallion and Kentucky Futurity winner Star’s Pride (1947 – 1977.)
Trottingbreds, despite their name, can do more than just trot. They can also pace, canter, gallop and jump. They have also been taught to speed rack. But they were primarily bred for pony harness racing and are built to race. They have long legs, slim barrels (unlike the usual pony pot-belly) longer necks than ponies tend to have and more horse-like heads. Only ponies 13.2 hands high or smaller can be registered or allowed to participate in pony harness races. The ponies must be wearing racing shoes when being measured.
Trottingbreds tend to come in solid colors such as various shades of bay, brown, black and chestnut. Occasionally a grey or palomino appears. They can have white markings on the legs and head. They tend to have long, full manes and tails that may need to be trimmed, pulled or braided in order to avoid getting tangles with tack or harness.
About Pony Racing
Although a 1985 article in “Sports Illustrated” described Trottingbred racing as poised to become the biggest horse sport for amateurs, loss of land for keeping ponies and various economic crashes have pretty much doomed the sport to a slow death. Trottingbreds were exported to Canada, Italy, Bermuda and Australia but only in Australia has the sport caught on as an equine version of Little League. Even in Australia, any pony can be used for racing and not just Trottingbreds.
In America, Trottingbred races are done as no-betting exhibitions at Standardbred harness racing tracks. The ponies are decked out in exact miniature copies of Standardbred racing harness, sulkies and hobbles for pacers. They race only a half or quarter mile. The drivers do not accept money for driving and any money they may win is expected to be donated to charities.
Trottingbred Horse Web Site. “Info.” http://trottingbredhorse.homestead.com/
Equine Kingdom. “Trottingbred.” http://www.equinekingdom.com/breeds/light_horses/trottingbred.htm
“Trottingbred Horses: A New Breed Apart – Small, Funs and a Bargain, too.” Robert F. Jones. “Sports Illustrated.” October 28, 1985. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1120066/1/index.htm