It is one of the most ancient of all sports and its basic premise – to identify which of two or more horses is the fastest over a set course or distance – has remained unchanged since the earliest times. Often, countries have developed their own particular horse racing traditions.Variations include restricting races to particular breeds, running over obstacles, running over different distances, running on different track surfaces and running in different gaits.
These races are called conditions races and offer the biggest purses.
Equestrian sports provided entertainment for crowds and honed the excellent horsemanship that was needed in battle.
Horse racing of all types evolved from impromptu competitions between riders or drivers.
It also plays an important part of myth and legend, such as the contest between the steeds of the god Odin and the giant Hrungnir in Norse mythology.
Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sports.