When I think of horses, two things come to mind, beauty and speed. The horse just has the look and build of power and motion. Watching horse racing on TV is truly jaw dropping if you consider how fast and how long these tremendous athletes can run. Have you ever wondered which horse breed is fastest in the world?

Wild horses have been running across various parts of the world for hundreds of years. They are adapted to quickly covering great distances every day. The confirmation of horse breeds varies, resulting in different capabilities. Some are built for speed, some are built for power, and some have a combination of both.

But exactly how fast are horses? Are they all built the same? Read on to see which horse breed is the fastest in the world.

What Makes A Horse Fast?


A stride is measured from the place where one hoof touches the ground to where it hits the ground again at any pace. The average length of a racehorses’ stride is 20 feet.

Stride rate

The stride rate or turnover ratio is the number of strides a horse completes in a given time. Most racehorses’ stride rate is between 130 and 140 strides per minute. The fastest horses can speed up their stride rate without shortening it. Some champion horses’ stride rates are over 160 strides per minute.

Quarter horses naturally have a faster stride rate than thoroughbreds. Think of a sprinter. However, thoroughbreds are required to maintain their stride over a longer distance and time during a race.

Stride angle

Another relevant term used when referencing a horses’ speed is its stride angle. The stride angle is the distance between a horse’s front and back foot, usually measured at the push-off point of the rear foot.

A higher stride angle results in long strides. Secretariat had a stride angle of 110 degrees which is the highest stride angle of any racehorse. Many horse racing experts believe stride angle is an essential factor in determining the success of a racehorse.

The fastest horses are superior in all three of these categories.

The Fastest Horse Breeds

Thoroughbred – The Fastest Horse Breed

fastest horse breed

Outstanding for speed and stamina, the Thoroughbred is a breed of horse developed in England for racing and jumping. The origin of the Thoroughbred may be traced back to records in England as early as the 3rd century.

Thoroughbreds have delicate heads, slim bodies, broad chests, and short backs. They are high-spirited creatures averaging 16 hands (64 inches, or 163 cm) high and weighing about 1,000 pounds (450 kg) at maturity. Thoroughbreds are usually bay, chestnut, brown, black, or gray. They have been combined with and have improved several other breeds of horses over the years.

Thoroughbred Winning Brew holds the Guinness world record for the fastest speed from the starting gate for a Thoroughbred racehorse, at 77.6 km/h (43.97 mph) over two furlongs, although Quarter Horses attain higher speeds over shorter distances than Thoroughbreds, according to Wikipedia.

The Great Secretariat was the fastest horse of all time over 1 to 1.5 miles. Hence why he holds the track record in all 3 triple crown races. His Belmont victory was an astonishing 2 seconds faster than any horse in history. Read more about Secretariat here.

American Quarter Horse – A Very Fast Horse Breed

quarter horse fastest horse breed

American Quarter Horse, one of the oldest breeds of horses in the United States. The breed originated about the 1660s as a cross between native horses of Spanish origin used by the earliest colonists and English horses imported to Virginia from about 1610.

The American Quarter Horse, or Quarter Horse, excels at sprinting short distances. Its name is derived from its ability to reach tremendous speeds in races of a quarter mile or less. Some have been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph (88.5 km/h). They do not have the stamina to maintain high speeds for as great a distance as the Thoroughbred but a Quarter Horse can move!

Arabian – One Of The Fastest Horse Breed

Arabians are known for their beauty and endurance, not their speed. However, there have been some reports of Arabians that have hit top speeds of 40 mph which is uncommon. Arabians are slower than Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds but are durable and excel in endurance races.

The Arabian is one of the world’s oldest breeds, originating in the Middle East to Egypt regions of the globe, they were used in battle because of their endurance and speed capabilities.


Standardbreds have a good disposition and are fast horses but in a different way. They are fast trotters and derive their speed from the muscularity of their shoulders and hindquarters.. They have a similar body as a thoroughbred horse and they have been bred for pulling two-wheeled carts in races.

The Standardbred breed originated in New England, from a strong mixture of several other trotting and pacing breeds, such as the Thoroughbred, Morgan, Canadian Pacer. This gorgeous horse breed is fast and always ready to go!


Originating from Spanish horses bred in North America, they became well known not only for their spots and make excellent hunting horses.

This breed is revered for its speed, strength, endurance, and durability, making them a good combination of the breeds above. They are small and compact, making them a good choice for children. They also make a great long-distance trail horse. I’ve watched many Westerns where the cowboys would ride the trusty Appaloosa!


So which horse would you choose for a race? Well I guess that comes down to the distance. A short race is going to be dominated by the Quarter Horse, an intermediate race of more than a quarter mile or so goes to the Thoroughbreds and a long distance race is going to the beautiful Arabian. Of course there could be horses of any breed that are the exceptions to the rule.

When you add not only the power and speed of the horse to the sound of their thundering hooves you truly have something magical. It’s no wonder some people say that horses can fly!

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Have a great day!