How Far, How Fast can horses go?

Horses are live animals, not machines that can go on forever. They tire just like we do. However, some horses have shown amazing speed and endurance when asked for it-- here are some amazing feats and facts on how far, and fast, a horse can travel. See also: Horse speed in MPH page

  • In 1889, Dmitri Peshkov rode 5,500 miles from Albanzinski, Siberia, to St. Petersburg.

  • The Akhal-Teke, a rare breed from Turkmenistan, is known for its excellent endurance. In 1935, the historic ride that this breed is famous started. Twenty-eight riders on Akhal-tekes rode 2,600 miles fro Ashkabad to Moscows, including 215 across the harsh Kara Kum desert without water (where temperatures can reach 149F). They finished in eighty-four days.
  • Aimé Tschiffely - Rode 10,000 miles from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Washington, DC, starting in 1925. He rode two Criollo horses, both which survived the trip in good condition. Both were over age 14 when they started the trip; they lived to be 36 and 40.
  • 1808: The Marquis of Huntley rode from Aberdeen, Scotland, to Inverness (105 miles) in seven hours on eight relays of horses. (Each horse averaged 15 mph for about 13 miles.)

  • 1860's: The Pony Express averaged nine mph over 25 mile stages.

  • 1880's, England: The Book of the Horse describes a good hunter as a horse which can ‘after a hard day which ends at dark, ten or fifteen miles from home . . . walk and shog (sic) for ten or twelve miles at about five mph

  • 1886: Frank Hopkins (of Hidalgo movie fame) a military dispatch rider, rode a stallion named Joe 1800 miles from Galveston, Texas, to Rutland, Vermont, in 31 days (average 58 miles/day). Joe finished in excellent condition, after traveling no more than 10 hours/day.

  • 1892: Prussian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers raced from Berlin to Vienna. The winner rode 350 miles in 72 hours. The horse died, as did 25 others out of 199 who started.

  • 1920: The first U.S. Cavalry Mounted Service Cup race averaged 60 miles/day for five days, carrying up to 245 lb. of rider and gear.

  • 1988, extreme terrain, regular Western saddle: A stable owner rode 100 miles through the San Juan Mountains in Western Colorado, crossing several 12,000+ ft. passes, in 17 hours, 20 minutes.

  • Modern Endurance Rides: The 100-mile rides are run by the same horse and rider in under 24 hours-- but there are usually 8 vet checks, where the horse is required to rest for 30 minutes, as well as pass a health check. That's 4 hours spent resting; also, the rider may get off and jog with their horse partway. These horses are also in top condition, and must pass many vet exams.

  • Today, in the Middle East, 26 mile marathons are won in just over an hour.

  • One horse and rider, during the Cross-Country day of the modern Three-Day Event, might achieve something like this: Two miles of 'roads and tracks' at 10 mph (brisk trot and canter); 2.5 mile steeplechase over 10 jumps at almost 26 mph (full gallop); 10 more miles of roads and tracks at 9 mph; 10 minute rest; 4.5-5 miles over 30 or more large and challenging fixed obstacles in natural rolling terrain at about 21 mph (gallop); and be fit enough to show-jump the next day. In other words, around 20 miles in less than two hours, with major jumping efforts involved.

    Some records from modern Thoroughbred Racing :

  • In 1999, "Artax", ran a record time of 1:07 4/5ths in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (6 furlongs).
  • 10/31/64: Kelso, running 2 miles at Aquaduct NY, had a time of 3:19.2 and ran 36.14 mph.

  • 6/9/73: Secretariat, running 1 1/2 miles at Belmont, NY, had a time of 2:24 and ran 37.5 mph.

  • 2/3/80: Spectacular Bid, running 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita, CA, had a time of 1:57.8 and ran 38.20 mph.

  • 8/24/68 Dr. Fager, running 1 mile at Arlington Park, IL, had a time of 1:32.2 and ran 39.05 mph.

  • 5/9/82: Petro Jay, running 6 furlongs at Turf Paradise, AZ, had a time of 1:07.2 and ran 40.18 mph.




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