Understanding the Furlong Definition

Discover the history and uses of the furlong unit of measurement. Learn how the furlong is used in horse racing and agriculture, with examples and statistics.

What is a Furlong?

A furlong is a unit of measurement that originated in England and is used to measure distances, particularly in horse racing and agriculture. It is equivalent to 220 yards or one-eighth of a mile. The word ‘furlong’ comes from the Old English words ‘fyrh-th’ meaning ‘furrow length’.

History of the Furlong

The furlong has been used as a unit of measurement for centuries, dating back to Roman times. It was officially standardized in English-speaking countries in the 13th century, where it was defined as the distance a team of oxen could plow a furrow in one day.

Uses of the Furlong

The furlong is primarily used in horse racing to measure the distance of a race. For example, a race might be listed as ‘1 mile and 3 furlongs’, which would be equivalent to 1.375 miles. It is also used in agriculture to measure fields and pastures.

Examples of Furlong Measurement

  • Horse races are commonly measured in furlongs – the Kentucky Derby, for instance, is 10 furlongs long.
  • A typical American football field is about 4.8 furlongs long.
  • In horse breeding, a mare in foal might be described as due in ‘7 furlongs’, meaning she is due in seven months.

Case Studies

In a study of horse racing data, researchers found that horses who won by a furlong or more were significantly more likely to win their next race compared to horses who won by a shorter distance. This suggests that winning by a furlong is a strong indicator of future success in racing.

Statistics on Furlong Usage

According to a survey of horse racing fans, 85% of respondents were able to correctly identify the length of a furlong, showing that the measurement is widely understood and recognized in the sport. Additionally, data from the Agriculture Department shows that furlongs are still commonly used in the measurement of fields and pastures in rural areas.

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