It has been said that the invention of the Thoroughbred was the single most consequential turning point in the evolution of the horse since its domestication. Its blood has provided the key to superiority in nearly every equestrian discipline. Why the Thoroughbred was created, how, by whom, and how its progenitors survived war, politics, and the ambitions and jealousies of monarchs, noblemen and politicians is the subject of Speed and the Thoroughbred.
Handsomely illustrated with paintings and photographs, this is the first book to identify and historically trace the three sources of Thoroughbred speed: the pre-Christian Irish Hobby, the 16th century English Running-Horse, and a few Middle-Eastern imports. More than ten years in the making, the author—the most prolific equine author and creative equestrian of the 20th century—believed it was his finest work of equine scholarship. It is the most important and fascinating book ever written about the Thoroughbred.
Alexander Mackay-Smith was born in Manhattan in 1903, but he lived most of his life in the horse country of Virginia. He is also the author of The American Foxhound 1747-1967, and Foxhunting In North America, among others. He died in 1998.
Reviews for Speed and the Thoroughbred: The Complete History
"Lovers of fine art will appreciate the illustrations that give this masterpiece of research incredible visual appeal."—In & Around Horse Country
"During his lifetime, Alexander Mackay-Smith contributed to sporting art and the sporting horse world in countless ways through his many books and as editor of The Chronicle of the Horse. The late Mackay-Smith's book, Speed and the Thoroughbred, contains 32 fine color prints and 28 black and white illustrations in a new edition."—Equine Times
"In relating the enthralling history of the origins of the thoroughbred, Mackay-Smith gives all horse lovers - not just racing enthusiasts - a fuller appreciation of the modern equine athlete."—Faquier Times-Democrat
"Mackay-Smith's scholarly endeavor isn't just history, though. He raises a number of questions about the breeding of all kinds of horses that are as pertinent today as they were 400 years ago."—John Strassburger, Chronicle of the Horse
"This unexpected treasure comes from one of the equine world's most respected authors and students of history—published two years after his death in 1998 at the age of 95. While many books have detailed the evolution of the Thoroughbred, in his final work Mackay-Smith takes a different angle in reviewing the origin of sprinting speed within the breed. The longtime editor of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine spent a decade researching, compiling, writing, and editing. The result is a posthumous masterpiece. This slim, slightly oversized volume is lushly illustrated in both black and white and color."—Mary Simon, Thoroughbred Times