Horses are magnificent and powerful creatures. As an animal of prey, it’s extremely beneficial for horses to run safely for long periods of time. The reason for the horse’s success in nature comes from their speed, agility, and readiness.

There is, however, a sizeable difference between the endurance of wild horses and domesticated horses. This has been the constant result of selective breeding, along with the change of their captivity.

An American Quarter horse was recorded as having the fastest gallop, reaching an astonishing 55 MPH during a quarter-mile sprint

How fast can a horse run?

It may come as a surprise, but horses can’t maintain gait (pace) for as long as other gaits. The fastest horse breeds are thoroughbred, they have a better than average ability to sprint for longer periods than other breeds. Typically, a horse can gallop between 25-30 mph. Although track horses will gallop faster.

How long can horses run?

A horse can only hold a gallop for a short period of up to 2 miles. A horse can hold a gallop for around 2 miles if they have been trained for those conditions, going through an intense exercise regime. Horses may also cover that distance if they’re under threat in a fight-or-flight scenario. After around 2 miles, fatigue will start to set in.

Horses going at a slower gait (pace) could travel anywhere up to 20 miles, given good weather conditions, along with good health. Horses going for long periods over hard surfaces are at risk of having problems with their hoofs.

Horses that are forced to gallop upwards of 3 miles are at risk of serious injury, and even death.

Horses are unique in that they have great muscle memory compared to most living mammals. Horses in the wild must travel 20 miles every day, just to get enough of their daily food and water requirements.  

Some breeds like the Morgans and Arabians, are known for their ability of having high levels of endurance. Morgans are typically used for road trotting, while Arabians are better choices for endurance rides. Overall, the thoroughbreds are still dominant.


Although a horse can only gallop for a few miles at any one time before slowing down, or suffering an injury, their speed and beauty are majestic. It’s easy to see why we get excited when watching a horse displaying their athleticism around a track, or at a show. It’s important for horse owners to provide their horses with the exercise needed for riding. Developing muscle endurance takes time to develop, regardless of their excellent muscle memory.