How has Horse Racing Changed over the Last Century?

24 July 2020
By Bryan Smyth


Horse racing is a sport which is very rich in both history and tradition. It dates all the way back to ancient times too. The main thing that you have to remember is that it has changed a lot over the centuries and has also evolved considerably in the last century. If you want more information about how racing has changed over time, then take a look below.

Racing Equipment

Modern horse racing is fast; horses are raced on racing plates that are made from aluminium which help lighten the overall weight of essential equipment. This is very different to the older steel plates that were once used. Racehorses are also trained with very high quality equipment which significantly reduces the chances of an injury occurring. Over time, the equipment which jockeys use has changed and, with both the horse and the rider in mind, there are even upgrades which have helped the rider and horse to be more comfortable as well. Softer leather and lighter saddles have replaced the metal strips and blankets that were used in the past and this makes the whole horse racing experience more comfortable for horse and rider.


One of the biggest and most prominent changes to be made over the last century is actually betting. The 1920’s saw racing wagers take place through bookies. Now, there are so many options to choose from. It doesn’t matter whether they’re online options or whether they’re the different types of bet, because you can now choose and customise your betting experience more than ever before. At race meets and events, trackside bookies are still as popular as ever with race goers and ‘tic tac men’ are still a colourful element of the trackside scene.


Believe it or not, horse racing has become way more of an open sport in the last century. It has gained a community of fans. When you look at how things were before the 1920’s you will see that the sport was for the wealthy and the aristocracy. Over the years however, it has become more widespread and it is now something that everyone can enjoy. It’s even a sport that women can partake in as well, which wasn’t the case even just a few short years ago.

Photo by Daniel from Pexels


Improvements in science, as well as medical care, have ultimately meant that looking after horses is now way easier. Innovations have also made training horses much easier as well. MRI scanning and even breathing assessments can be carried out so that we can understand how a horse is performing and what can be done to try and give the animal more support.


The prizes for hosting races are now broader than ever before. This makes the competition way more exciting to watch. Some of the races that are hosted offer over $10 million in prize money, where prizes are funded by way of sponsorship of races and events. Of course, there have been so many advancements made too and when you look at how things have developed from a betting standpoint, you will see that this has contributed a lot to the money that people can bring in from simply placing in the top three. Of course, so much has changed and it’s incredible to see from both a bettor’s standpoint and for jockeys too.

How Horse Breeding has Changed

Horses that have been bred for racing now have very different physical requirements when compared to the horses that raced some time ago. Now there are stamina races, hurdles and short, more intensive races. Of course, this has meant that the horses used have had to meet the new needs of the track and this has resulted in subtle physical changes in modern thoroughbreds. The demand for certain types of horse has also been on the rise, and as things change, it’s very interesting to see how everything else follows shortly behind.

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