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Trotters Ridden in Old Days A freak of nature produced the first trotting horses in the United States. A Thoroughbred named Messenger, imported to this country in 1788 from England, trotted instead of galloped and was able to pass this odd trait down to his descendants. First trotting races were staged in such places as New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and Trenton, but in those days the horses were ridden rather than being hitched to a sulky. It wasnt until 1850 that trotters were put in harness to stay.