Four Factors that Determine Speed in Horses

Four Factors that Determine Speed in Horses
Identity Magazine for Mompreneurs
Written by TeamIdentity

Perhaps, the most obvious factor that determines the speed of a horse is its breed.

Do you have a career in horses? A quick visit to the race track will show you that horses can be incredibly fast. On average, a horse can reach a speed of 55MPH. The best of them, in the right conditions, can go even quicker. It is an amazing ability that has made sports like horse racing one of the most popular in the world.

But what makes it possible? What are the factors that determine speed in horses? Knowing them and how much of these qualities a horse possesses can be the winning difference for a punter at a race.


Perhaps, the most obvious factor that determines the speed of a horse is its breed. While they are all fast, different species have different strengths, which means some are naturally faster than the rest, even in optimal conditions. 

For instance, the draft breeds are better suited to carrying loads because they are optimized for endurance. They may be fast by virtue of being a horse, but they don’t particularly have high-speed qualities. 

Thoroughbreds, on the other hand, are the fastest breeds in the world. They are tall and renowned for their athletic build, which is why we famously use them as racehorses. One of them, Fusaichi Pegasus, is the most expensive horse in the world

Body Build

Although, like human beings, there are exceptions, body build is arguably the most crucial factor that determines speed in horses. The anatomy of movement in a horse involves two things – skeleton and muscles. 

The skeleton is the frame of the structure, while the muscles control the movement of that structure.

When the muscles are evenly proportioned, they are all able to perform their tasks well, and a horse can maximize its speed. In this regard, horses with an average-sized frame and muscle make the perfect racing specimen. 

Taller or thicker horses are not faster. Neither are skinnier horses—something worth considering if you are looking for a quick win with Royal Ascot free bets.

Length of Stride

Studies like this about how the speed gene works in thoroughbreds try to show what makes horses fast. But unless you are a scientist, it might not be pleasurable reading. 

One factor most understandable in layman terms, is the length of stride of the horse. The stride is the distance a horse travels in a single leap. 

More rudimentarily, it is the gap between the first spot a horse’s front foot hits the ground and the spot the same foot lands after. The fastest horses have longer strides and can cover great distances in short leaps.

Stride rate

Finally, another factor that determines the speed of a horse is its stride rate. It is the number of strides a horse completes within a given time, usually within a minute.

Horses that are capable of increasing their number of strides without shortening them tend to be faster and more adept at covering large distances in short times. Breeds like Quarterhorses, Thoroughbreds, and Arabian horses are commonly capable of achieving this.

The fastest horses in the world, such as Yeats, an Irish Thoroughbred and the most successful winner of the Royal Ascot Gold Cup, have more than 160 strides per minute. Most racehorses, however, have between 130 and 140 strides per minute.

Photo by Jeff Griffith on Unsplash

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Identity Magazine for Mompreneurs


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