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How Fast can a Horse Run?

By Anne Forsberg


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There are a ton of different world records that even to this day seem practically unbeatable to say the least. One such record is the one that was given to a horse that managed to run as fast as 43.97mph, but there are still a lot of different unofficial records that beg to differ on the legitimacy of that run.

There is even a case of a Chickasaw Indian Thoroughbred horse that apparently, according to the owner, has broken the record a long time ago by running at the speed of 55mph.

So, who should we believe here and more specifically, how fast can the average horse even run in the first place?

We all know that depending on the breed itself, different horses will have different running speeds and this is exactly why you can’t just ask the question of how fast a horse is considering the huge difference there is between them.

This is why in order to answer this question we will bring you the fastest horse breed, the slowest one and the average that most of them succumb to eventually.

So, without further ado, let us answer the following question together:

How Fast Is the Average Horse?

How fast can a horse run – How fast
Photo by David Dibert / Unsplash.com

By equalizing most of the breeds’ gaits we can safely say that the numbers are quite shocking to say the least.

In case you didn’t know by now, there are four different types of movement that horses adhere to, and they are the following:

The Walk

This is when the horse first starts to move around and it is also where you can hear the four-beat rhythm the most out of their trot. Most horses will not be any faster than 2 meters per second during the walk phase

The Trot

This is where the horse first starts picking up some speed and usually it is also where you can see that the horse has a two-beat rhythm to his walk. For the average horse, 10 meters per second is the speed that they’ll aim for

The Canter or the Lope

This is the three-beat gait that is very different from breed to breed, we’ll delve deeper into how fast it is after this but what you should know for now is that this is where the horse starts to gallop, although it is not fully galloping yet

The Gallop

This is by far the fastest of the four, it is a four-beat horse movement which sees the horse running at its maximum speed depending on the terrain and the capacity of the horse itself

How fast can a horse run – Average
Photo by rihaij / Pixabay.com

As far as horse speeds are concerned though, this is a pretty good indicator of how fast your four-legged friend should be:

  • During the walk phase your horse should be able to reach an average speed of 4.3 mph or 6.9 kmph although this is very different from horse to horse and it also depends on their mood. The more excited the horse the faster it will walk
  • During the trot phase, the average horse will be able to walk as fast as 8 mph or 12.9 kmph. Since the horse is just picking up speed here, anything above that is considered to be part of the next phase
  • During the canter phase, the horse will almost go at its maximum speed, stopping just shy of 17 mph or 27.3 kmph
  • During the gallop phase the horse is running as fast as possible which means that it can reach speeds of around 25 to 30 mph or 40.2 to 48.3kmph. While there are plenty of horse breeds that can go faster than that, this is the general average that they all succumb to

What is the Fastest Horse Breed?

How fast can a horse run – Quarter Horse
Photo by olarenia / Pixabay.com

The answer here also varies from breed to breed depending on the distance that you want to calculate the horse’s speed for.

For example, the American Quarter Horse is by far the fastest horse breed you could go for, but the problem with it is the fact that it can only do so for short periods of time.

During these short bursts of speed and power though, the average American Quarter Horse can go as fast as 55 miles per hour but as soon as they get tired, they will have to stop galloping because they are completely exhausted.

If you want a horse breed that can actually run for longer periods of time though you should look into getting yourself a Thoroughbred Horse because they far outshine the American Quarter Horse in that aspect.

The only real issue here is that the Thoroughbred Horse can only go as fast as 44mph which is significantly less than the American Quarter Horse, although the longer period of running definitely adds to their portfolio to say the least.

Next up on our list we have the Arabian horse breed which can gallop as fast as 34 to 40mph. While this may sound impressive it is only for short periods of time which is not exactly ideal to say the least.

How fast can a horse run – Arabian Horse
Photo by saud alrashiad / Pixabay.com

Appaloosas can also run quite fast, reaching speeds of up to 30 to 41mph, but they can keep their speed there for a decent period of time for the most part.

Lastly on our list we have the Akhal-Teke, the Mustang and the Standardbred horses which can all run at around 30 to 49mph depending on the horse itself.

If you want a good horse breed that can run fast and keep running for a long period of time though you will definitely want to go for a Thoroughbred Horse as these are by far the best in their category.

As far as general speed is concerned though, since the current world record is held by an American Quarter Horse, it should come to no surprise that this is typically referred to as the fastest horse breed in the world.

Although it may not be able to keep that speed up for long periods of time, this breed can still outrun any other horse on the track during that short time span.

The Slowest Horse Breeds

How fast can a horse run – Kingman Horse

Currently, the world record for the slowest horse that was ever reported was none other than Kingman, an American Thoroughbred racehorse that managed to go as fast as two and a half miles per hour during an official race and still technically passed the finishing line while doing so.

As far as an actual breed of slow horses is concerned, it all depends on the main use value of the horse itself. For example, if your horse is meant to pull stuff for you and do hard labor then chances are that they are a lot larger than the standard horse.

How fast can a horse run – Shire Horse

Take the Shire for example, it is considered to be a draught horse breed and as such it is way heavier and stronger than most other horse breeds out there. The problem here is that it is only able to go as fast as 30 to 35mph because of how heavy it is.

As far as an actual slowest breed is concerned though, the Tennessee Walking Horse is probably the world’s slowest breed, being able to run as slow as 10 to 20mph at their maximum speed.

How fast can a horse run – Tennessee Walking Horse

The Black Forest and the Selle Francais horse breeds are also very slow, being able to run only as fast as 14 to 15mph and while that may seem fast to you, remember that most other horses can easily run twice as fast as them.

The American miniature horse comes up next at 18 to 20mph and while we’re on this topic we have go to bring up the Morgan and Clydesdale horse breeds as both of these are extremely slow, being able to go as fast as 20mph at their peak.

How fast can a horse run – American miniature horse

This again has to do with their general use value. You will not be buying any of these to outrun the standard American Quarter for example, you will do so for their beauty or their labor qualities.

Regardless, you should know that these are still great horse breeds that you could go for and more specifically, you can’t go wrong with any of them as long as you are not looking for a racing horse.


How fast can a horse run
Photo by Mari_art / stock.adobe.com

So, how fast can the average horse run again? The standard horse can run as fast as 30mph or 48.3kmph, although this again varies deeply depending on the horse’s breed, genetics, anatomy, stride and gender.

You can easily increase your horse’s speed by just training them for it and of course by giving them the proper food and treatment that will allow them to be faster than their competition.

This is a known fact around the racehorse community but no matter how fast your horse is, if you don’t take proper care of it by giving it a good diet and a lot of help to get its breathing and form down you won’t be able to pass any other horse in the match.

So, make sure to give your horse all the help it can get and even if you don’t want the horse to compete, remember that you can still train your horse to run faster as a fun bonding experience for you two.

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About Anne Forsberg

Anne has been riding since she was only 5 years old and she's been obsessed with horses ever since. An avid horsewoman now, she loves horses and this sport more than anything else, sharing stories and info that she hopes will be helpful and meaningful to anyone who's on their path to become a better horse owner, a better rider and why not, a better person. Learn more about Seriously Equestrian's Editorial Process.

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