How Fast Can A Horse Run? Top Speeds, Fastest Breeds, and More


Horses are known to be fast movers already, and at the gallop, a horse can reach insane speeds. I was curious about how some horses can run faster than others, and what the fastest breeds of horses were. After researching, I found my answers.

How Fast Can A Horse Run?

The fastest gallop ever recorded was a sprint at 55 mph (miles per hour). This gallop was achieved by a Quarter horse. On average, however, horses gallop at around 27-30 mph. The most commonly used breed for racing, the Thoroughbred, can run at a top speed of 44 mph.

The Fastest Breeds of Horses in the World

The Quarter Horse

Many people don’t know this, but the Quarter Horse is actually the fastest horse in the world. The record sprint speed for the Quarter Horse was clocked in at fifty five miles per hour. This is an incredibly fast horse when it comes to sprinting.

Fun Fact: Quarter Horses were given their name because they had the speed and strength to sprint over a quarter mile at top speeds. Even today Quarter Horses are raced in sprints!

The Thoroughbred

Thoroughbred horses are a hot blood breed of horse and are the most common breed found on the racetracks of America.

These horses can reach the top speed of forty four miles per hour and can maintain a full sprint nearly the whole race. They have exceptional stamina making them a great choice for racing.

The most famous thoroughbred racehorse was Secretariat. A chestnut stallion with three white socks. He was the first American horse to win the Triple Crown since 1948.

Fun Fact: Thoroughbreds are often used for steeplechase racing in Europe.

The Arabian

Arabians are hot blooded horses typically used for riding in both English and Western disciplines. Arabian racing, however, is still a commonly seen sport that has made a comeback.

Arabian horses have an average top speed of forty miles per hour, but the typical gallop for an Arabian is around thirty four miles per hour.

When riding my Arabian Bronze at a dead gallop we were flying. I don’t know what his fastest speed was, but he could sure run!

What Made Secretariat So Fast?

Secretariat, a legendary thoroughbred stallion on the track, was insanely fast and left his competition in the dust. People began to wonder, what made Secretariat so fast?

When Secretariat passed away at the age of nineteen, research was done on his body. Scientists found that the secret to Secretariat’s success was the fact that he had an enormous heart that was able to pump more oxygen into his brain and muscles than any other known horse.

Secretariat’s heart weighed between twenty one and twenty two pounds which is the largest heart that scientists have ever seen in a horse. The weight of an average heart is about ten pounds, making Secretariat’s heart double the size of the average horse heart.

What Makes A Horse Run So Fast?

Horses have very large hearts which pump blood to the muscles and brain quickly. The horse has a large amount of blood vessels going to big and important muscles feeding them oxygen.

Horse’s lungs are also incredibly large with an average lung capacity of fourteen gallons or fifty five litres. With a large, strong heart and enormous lungs, horses are able to gallop as fast as they do.

Their strong muscles, when fed oxygen-rich blood, give them that fast and explosive power to barrel down the track at impressive speeds.

At What Age Does A Horse Run Its Fastest?

Horses can run their fastest usually at a very young age. Horses as young as two and three years old have been used on the track for racing and achieved victories.

Race horse’s general training starts around two to three years of age. In steeplechase however, racehorses are started at the age of 4 to ensure the horse’s body is ready for the strain. A horse can’t be ridden until the cartilage in their knees has fused, other wise the horse may be injured. This is why a horse must wait two to three years before starting their racing careers.

Horses are at their peak in racing around the age of four and a half. Some horses are raced up until the age of twelve or into their early teens regardless of the fact that they are past their prime.

Do Male or Female Horses run Faster?

Male horses, whether they are stallions or geldings, carry more records on the track. Secretariat was a stallion who falls in that category, and he is of the most famous and fastest horses in the world.

Typically, geldings and stallions are used for racing over mares, but there are several record breaking females on the track. It is not unusual for a female to win a big race, there just happens to be more male victories because there are more males competing in this discipline.

Males and females in the racing discipline are usually about the same, just males are the most common to make and beat records.

The Fastest Trotting Horse

The Standardbred is the fastest trotting horse in the world. The fastest of this breed is a horse named Cambest who trotted a mile in just one minute and forty six seconds. Cambest is still the record holder for the fastest time over a mile even though he set this record in 1993.

FAQs On How Fast Horses Can Run

When running a race, do horses run faster on the flat or steeple chasing?

Horses run faster on the flat than when steeple chasing because when steeple chasing, there are jumps put in the way for the horses to clear, slowing their time.

Horses on the flat have a shorter race distance to run. In steeplechase racing, horses need enough stamina to not only clear jumps and obstacles, but to also cover over two miles of ground.

Who is the fastest horse in the world?

Winning Brew is recognized as the fastest horse in the world. His top speed was nearly forty four miles per hour. This horse, though recognized as the fastest horse, is actually over ten miles per hour slower than the Quarter Horse. Winning Brew may be the fastest thoroughbred, but not the fastest horse overall.

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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