Even if you’re a lifelong horse lover, there still might be some things you don’t know about them and the sports they dominate. For example, do you know why older, thoroughbred horses don’t race? Probably not. Or do you know what steeplechasing is and what it takes to train a horse to compete? Don’t worry; we’ll educate you on steeplechase history and its rules.

All about Steeplechasing

Steeplechase history

Steeplechasing originated in Ireland. The sport got its name after the first thoroughbred horse races went cross-country from church steeple to steeple, rather than on a live horse racing track. While navigating this rough terrain, horses needed to be skilled in navigating obstacles like potholes, ditches, and high slopes. The first official steeplechase was held in 1810.

From Ireland, the steeplechasing game spread to Great Britain, France, the Czech Republic, and eventually the United States. The rest is steeplechase history…well, not quite.

Once steeplechasing reached the United States, these hurdles were separated into two categories: hurdles and timber. Hurdles are steel fences that are usually no taller than 52 inches. Timber racing, on the other hand, uses wooden rail fences that can reach up to about five feet high. Americans started creating several entertaining events centered around the grand sport. But the most famous one today is still in Liverpool.

Steeplechase rules

Much like the steeplechase Olympics involving runners on foot, horse steeplechasing has rules. First, a race considered a steeplechase must have obstacles for the horse athletes to jump over.

Other steeplechase rules include:

  • In most cases, only thoroughbred horses can participate in steeplechasing
  • A licensed association must approve each course
  • All participants are required to have an equal and fair start
  • Unruly horses can be disqualified from the race

Are You Ready to Be Entertained?

Live horse racing at Ellis Park Racing starts in July. In the meantime, there is still tons of fun to be had at the casino. Visit us at Ellis Park Racing!