Neshoba - Pacer Harness Race

This is the Sunday afternoon 4-year-old pacer harness race at the 2000 Neshoba County Fair.

The origins of the Standardbred trace back to Messenger, an English Thoroughbred foaled in 1780, and later exported to the United States. Messenger was the great-grandsire of Hambletonian 10, to whom every Standardbred can trace its heritage. Standardbreds are a relatively new breed, dating back just over 200 years, but it is a true American breed. (from

The name "Standardbred" originated because the early trotters (pacers would not come into the picture until much later) were required to reach a certain standard for the mile distance in order to be registered as part of the new breed. The mile is still the standard distance covered in nearly every harness race. (from

Standardbred racing is contested on two gaits, the trot and the pace. Trotters move with a diagonal gait; the left front and right rear legs move in unison, as to the right front and left rear. It requires much skill by the trainer to get a trotter to move perfectly at high speeds, even though the trotting gait is a natural one in the animal world.  (from

Pacers, on the other hand, move the legs on one side of their body in tandem: left front and rear, and right front and rear. This action shows why pacers are often called "side-wheelers." Pacers, which account for about 80 percent of the performers in harness racing and are the faster of the two gaits, are aided in maintaining their gait by plastic loops called hobbles, which keep their legs moving in synchronization. (from

Standardbreds race in sulkies, also known as racebikes. These are light-weight, two-wheeled carts that are attached an either side of the harness, and the driver sits close behind the horse. (from

Established in 1889, the Neshoba County Fair® fosters political, agricultural, and social exchanges of knowledge and ideas. Home of the state's only licensed horse track since 1922 and the nation's largest campground fair, the fair is "Mississippi's Giant House Party®" and was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. (from

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