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From Plowing Farmland to Horse Racing: The Fascinating Evolution of Furlongs

Furlong: A Comprehensive Guide to the Unique Horse Racing Measurement

Have you ever heard of the term furlong? It is a unique measurement used in horse racing that is not commonly used in other fields.

In this article, we will delve into the origin, definition, and measurement of furlongs in both miles and kilometers. We will also explore the history and evolution of furlongs from Anglo-Saxon times to present-day horse racing.

Definition and Measurement of Furlong

Origin and Definition of Furlong

The term furlong comes from the Old English word “furh,” meaning furrow, and “lang,” meaning long. It was first used in the Anglo-Saxon era as a measurement of plowed farmland.

The length of a furrow was one-eighth of an acre, and the furrow’s length became known as a furlong. It was measured using an ox-goad, which was a long stick used to guide plow oxen.

Furlong Measurement in Miles and Kilometers

In horse racing, a furlong is 220 yards or 660 feet, which is equivalent to 201.168 meters. This is because the distance between the start and finish line of a racetrack is typically one mile and eight furlongs.

Therefore, each furlong is a little over one-sixth of a mile. In the Kentucky Derby, which is one of the most famous horse races in the world, the distance is one and a quarter miles, which is equivalent to ten furlongs.

Furlong Markers in Horse Racing

Furlongs are marked on the sides of the racetrack, and jockeys use them to keep track of the distance left to the finish line. Horse racing enthusiasts also use furlongs as a way to measure the strength and endurance of horses.

The horse that crosses the finish line first after covering the required number of furlongs, wins the race. It is an essential concept in horse racing, and it is used in horse racing events all over the world.

History and Evolution of Furlong

Evolution of Furlong from Anglo-Saxon Times

Before the introduction of standard weights and measures, the length of a furlong varied from place to place depending on the quality of the soil, terrain, and other factors. Over time, the acre became the standard unit of measurement in England, and the furlong became firmly established as one-eighth of an acre.

The furlong was used in calculating taxes based on land ownership, and it remained a vital measurement in the agricultural industry.

Comparison with Stade in Ancient Rome

The Romans also had a similar unit of measurement known as the stade. It was used to measure the distance between the start and finish line in their stadiums, which were the predecessor of modern sports arenas.

The measurement of a stade was 625 feet, which is equivalent to one-eighth of a mile or a furlong. The English mile was based on the distance of 1,000 paces or double the length of a Roman mile.

Adoption of Furlong in Horseracing in England

In the 16th century, horse racing became a popular sport in England, and the furlong was adopted as the standard unit of measurement in horse racing. The Grand National, which is the most challenging horse racing event in England, has a course that is four miles and four furlongs long.

The introduction of the Weights and Measures Act in 1824 made the furlong an official unit of measurement in the United Kingdom, and it has been used in racing events there ever since.

Conclusion

Furlongs are a fascinating and unique concept that is exclusive to horse racing. They have a rich history and have evolved throughout the ages from being a unit of measurement in Anglo-Saxon times to being an official unit of measurement in modern-day horse racing.

As we have seen, the measurement of furlongs has its roots in agriculture, and it has played an essential role in the development of horse racing into the sport that it is today. Understanding the measurement of furlongs is an essential component of enjoying the thrill and excitement of horse racing.

Furlong in Modern Times: A Look at its Usage and Measurements

While furlongs are commonly known as a measurement in the field of horse racing, their usage goes beyond just that. In this article expansion, we will take a closer look at how furlongs are used and measured in modern times.

Furlong Usage Outside of Horseracing

One interesting fact about furlongs is that they are still used as a measurement in some countries outside of horseracing. In Myanmar, for example, land deeds and other legal documents still use furlongs as a measurement for land.

Additionally, some highway signs in the UK use furlongs as a distance marker instead of miles. Furlongs also have a rich history in English canals and narrowboats.

Canals were often built to transport goods from one place to another, and narrowboats were used to carry these goods. These boats were built to the exact dimensions of a canal lock, which was typically 72 feet long and 14 feet wide, or exactly 40 furlongs long.

This allowed narrowboats to travel easily through the canal system. Even today, narrowboats are still used for transportation and recreation in the UK, and furlongs are an essential part of understanding their history.

Furlong Measurements and World Records in Horseracing

In horseracing, furlongs are used to measure the distance between the start and finish line in races. They are also used to measure the time it takes for a horse to cover a certain distance.

The following are some furlong measurements and world records in horseracing. Quarter Horse – In quarter horse racing, the distance is typically around 330 yards or just under two furlongs.

The world record for this distance is held by a horse named Drip Brew, who covered the distance in just over 16 seconds. Thoroughbred – The most popular type of horseracing uses the standard distance of one mile and eight furlongs.

The world record for this distance is held by a horse named Eclat, who covered it in one minute, 45 seconds, and 40 hundredths of a second. Oklahoma Natural – On July 20th, 1977, a horse named Oklahoma Natural set the world record for six furlongs.

He covered the distance in just over 1 minute and 6 seconds. Chinook Pass – In 1983, Chinook Pass set the world record for one mile.

He covered the distance in just under 1 minute and 32 seconds. Twin Sparks – In 1987, Twin Sparks set the world record for one and a quarter miles, which is the distance of the Kentucky Derby.

He covered it in just over 1 minute and 57 seconds. Rich Cream – In 1968, Rich Cream set the world record for one and a half miles.

He covered the distance in just under 2 minutes and 24 seconds. Time to Explode – In 1981, Time to Explode set the world record for two miles.

He covered the distance in just over 3 minutes and 19 seconds.

Conclusion

Furlongs have come a long way from their origins as a unit of measure for plowing farmland. Nowadays, furlongs are a vital part of horse racing and have an interesting history outside of this sport.

From land deeds to narrowboats, furlongs continue to be used in various ways. Furthermore, furlongs are used to measure different distances in horseracing, and some of the speed records for different distances are held by legendary horses.

With this knowledge, its easy to understand why furlongs remain such a vital measurement today. In conclusion, furlongs are a unique unit of measure used primarily in horse racing but also in other fields like land ownership and navigation on English canals.

They have a rich history dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period and continue to be used in modern times. Horse racing enthusiasts use furlongs to measure the strength and endurance of horses, and records for different distances are held by legendary horses.

As such, understanding furlongs is essential for anyone who wants to appreciate the art and science of horse racing.

FAQs:

Q: What is a furlong?

A: A furlong is a unit of measure used primarily in horse racing, which is equivalent to 220 yards, 660 feet, or slightly over 201 meters. Q: Where did furlongs originate from?

A: Furlongs originated from the Anglo-Saxon period, where it was used as a measurement for plowed farmland.

Q: How is a furlong different from a mile?

A: A mile is eight furlongs, and one furlong is one-eighth of a mile. Q: Are furlongs used outside of horse racing?

A: Yes, furlongs are still used in some countries for land ownership and navigation on English canals. Q: Who holds the world record for different furlong distances in horse racing?

A: Notable horses like Oklahoma Natural, Eclat, and Rich Cream have set world records for various furlong distances in horse racing.

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