How fast can a horse run? Are they bred for speed?

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Over the years, many have often marveled about the majestic nature of horses. From their physical qualities to their traits, horses are indeed spectacular creatures. Horses have always been a part of human history because of the roles they have played in the lives of humans from various walks of life, since the beginning of time.

History documents how horses began to be domesticated by men and eventually became a crucial part of man’s daily activities. Horses have always been used for various activities, such as for mobility, work, war, food, sport and companionship.

One of the features that have distinguished horses from other domesticated animals is their speed and capabilities. Join us as we share some remarkable qualities of horses.

Which horse holds the current World Record for the fastest horse?

On the 14th of May 2008, according to the Guinness World Records, a horse called Winning Brew covered the quarter-mile (402 m, 2 furlongs) in 20.57 seconds at the highest ever recorded speed of 43.9mph (70.76km/h).

This marked the beginning of a new record against the previous record holder which was a 3-year-old Hawkster with a record for covering 1 and a half miles (2,414m) at a speed of 37.82 mph (60.86 km/h) on the 14th of October 1989, at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California, USA. Winning Brew was only a 2-year-old Filly Thoroughbred when it became the world’s fastest horse.

Various speed records of horses at different distances

As a result of their speed, horses over the years have been used for sporting activities such as horse racing. Activities like Horse racing are one of the means through which various horse speed records have been recorded. In 1904, Delhi, an American thoroughbred at three years old, covered 1 ¼ mile at 2:07.75.

In 1973, Secretariat (a.k.a Big Red), an American thoroughbred, was able to win the fastest recorded time achieved on dirt. He covered 1 and a half miles on dirt in 2:24.0 and reached a top speed of 49mph. You might think that this is impossible but it is true.

Why do horses run so fast?

Horses are one of the fastest four legged animals that can cover a long distance in a few minutes. Bred for speed? Yes, horses are bred for speed. Horses are built to be strong runners. This is evident in the physical attributes they have. Unlike the muscles you will find around the bone of a human’s leg, the lower part of a horse’s leg is made up of ligaments and tendons around its bone.

This is why horses can run fast and maintain a steadier pace. However, this ability not only comes from all the biological factors but also how well the horse is trained. The amount of time and effort put into the proper nurturing of the horse matters.

Tendons and Ligaments of a horse
Tendons and Ligaments of a horse

What are the fastest breeds of horses and what are their average speeds?

Horses have various qualities that have distinguished them from other animals. Just as they are distinguished from other animals, so is the case with horses amongst themselves. There are various breeds of horses.

Some of these breeds of horses include Thoroughbred, Arabian, American Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, Standardbred, American Paint Horse, Akhal-Teke and Andalusian horse.

Thoroughbreds are renowned for their domination of the horse racing industry. They are often considered the fastest horses in the world because they have a hot-blooded temperament. The maximum speed a Thoroughbred can reach the moment is 44.1mph (71 km/h).

American Quarter Horse is described to be shorter in size than Thoroughbred. However, it makes up for its height with its speed. It can reach up to 55mph.

Arabian horses are popular for their endurance riding capabilities. This capability often gives them an edge during long races because even if they are slower, they have stronger endurance. It can reach up to 34-40mph.

What factors affect a Horse’s speed?

It is a fact that horses are very fast, however, there are certain circumstances and factors that can affect the speed of a horse. The physique of the horse always plays a role in the speed of a horse. By physique, we mean the frame of the horse.

In a research conducted at the University of Roehampton, it turns out that heat or hot weather can deteriorate the speed quickly.

If a horse isn’t properly nurtured and trained, it will also affect the speed of the horse. You know, even like humans, age affects the agility of a horse. The older horses grow, the more their speed begins to deteriorate. Thoroughbreds for example are reported to reach their peak when they are between the ages of 4 and 5 years old.

The health and diet of the horse also determine its speed. Some qualities of a healthy horse include a good diet, a strong heart, good airflow etc. all of which affect its speed.

What are Horse Gaits and speeds at these different gaits?

Horse Gaits refer to the different ways through which a horse can move. Each horse’s gait has its distinctive pattern. Horse Gait is divided into Natural and Artificial gait.

The natural gaits of horses include the walk, trot, canter, gallop and back. Horse breeds like the Thoroughbred, Arabian horses perform these gaits. The walk averages at 4.0 mph, the trot averages at 8.1 to 12 mph, the canter averages at 12 to 15 mph, the gallop averages at 25 to 30 mph.

The artificial gaits, on the other hand, are natural to some breeds of horses; these gaits include the running walk, slow gait, pace and rack etc.

For how long can a Horse run?

There are various ways to determine how long a horse can run. The gait of the horse in question can determine the distance it can cover.

Did you know that a healthy horse can trot 20 to 30 miles in a day if it is allowed to take a few pauses in between?

Also, while galloping, a horse can cover 2-2.5 miles between exhaustion sets in. As we mentioned above, the breed and qualities of horses matter in determining the following questions: how fast it can go, how long can a horse go, if it’s amongst the fastest horses, its average speed etc.

Horses have often been said to symbolize freedom and courage, this is clearly evident in the nature of the horse. This is why all horses should be treated with utmost care and love!

This was all about running. But horses need rest too. Curious about how do horses sleep?

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