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Racing in medieval England began when horses for sale were ridden in competition by professional riders to display the horses’ speed to buyers. During the reign of Richard the Lionheart (1189–99), the first known racing purse was offered, £40, for a race run over a 3-mile (4.8-km) course with knights as riders. In the 16th century Henry VIII imported horses from Italy and Spain (presumably Barbs) and established studs at several locations. In the 17th century James I sponsored meetings in England. His successor, Charles I, had a stud of 139 horses when he died in 1649.
Organized groups dedicated to protecting animals, such as the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, target some horse sports with claims of animal cruelty. Horse racing and rodeo are most commonly targeted,[citation needed] due both to their high visibility and to the level of stress and potential physical dangers to the equines involved.[citation needed] Criticism of horse racing and its practices runs a wide gamut;[vague] however, while some may consider even fairly drastic discipline of horses non-abusive, others may consider abuse to be anything done against the will of the animal in question. Some people may consider poor living conditions or use of whip abusive, while some may have concern with end-use of horses.
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Different breeds of horses have developed that excel in each of the specific disciplines. Breeds that are used for flat racing include the Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Arabian, Paint, and Appaloosa.[10] Jump racing breeds include the Thoroughbred and AQPS. In harness racing, Standardbreds are used in Australia, New Zealand and North America, when in Europe, Russian and French Trotter are used with Standardbred. Light cold blood horses, such as Finnhorses and Scandinavian coldblood trotter are also used in harness racing within their respective geographical areas.
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