Records dating back to Ancient Egypt, Syria, and Greece detail how horse racing formed part of ancient culture.
Undoubtedly, chariot racing was a favorite among Greeks and Romans. Chariot racing took place in the hippodromes which posed their own set of challenges to participants in these races.
Racing spread in popularity and by 648 BC, it was part of the Greek Olympic games. Riders and charioteers faced life-threatening challenges racing in these games. Most riders were flung from their horses or chariots due to there being no stirrups or saddles. Most faced brutal injury or even death participating in the races.
Sometimes, wealthy owners would participate, but they usually hired riders to ride on their behalf. The hippodrome had an unpredictable surface, and the most dangerous point were the turns of the course. The hippodrome had markings demarcating where most riders collided. Most collisions occurred due to wheels locking or riders colliding with one another.
During the Roman Empire, horse and chariot racing became serious industries, and from the 15th century until the late 1800s, Rome’s spring festival usually culminated with a race in which animals ran the length of the Via Del Corso without any riders, Mail Online reported.
The sport experienced great popularity among the British elite. It was because of the close involvement of royalty and aristocrats that horse racing became known as the “Sport of Kings”.
Horse racing and other sports allowed many to hone essential skills required in battle. An example of such games can be seen in the Medieval and Tudor era when many riders participated in games such as jousting.