Can a Quarter Horse Beat a Thoroughbred?

I developed an interest in horse riding quite recently.

I wondered during my initial days as a horse rider if a Quarter Horse was better than a Thoroughbred?

So, can a Quarter Horse beat a Thoroughbred? Yes, it can! According to research published in the NCBI, the Quarter Horse averages faster in races as compared to Thoroughbreds when they are timed from a standing start. This is due to the former’s endurance and racing strategy.

If you want to know the ‘what’ and ‘why’ behind why Quarter Horses can beat Thoroughbreds, read on to find out more.

Why can a Quarter Horse Beat a Thoroughbred?


So, let’s get straight to it.

How fast can a Thoroughbred horse run? They can often uphold a speed of 40 mph.

Now, you might be wondering:

How fast can a Quarter Horse run?

A whopping 55 mph!

This difference in speed is enough alone to show that a Quarter Horse can Beat a Thoroughbred.

But isn’t it true that Thoroughbreds are trained to win races?

They have the speed, the agility and the body to run long races and to win them.

The whole purpose of the Thoroughbred breed is to participate in and win races.

They are purebred horses and are believed to be the pride of riders and racers.

Research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that Quarter horses are significantly faster than Thoroughbreds and Arabian Horses.

Why do Quarter Horses win where Thoroughbreds don’t?

The thing is, Quarter Horses are trained differently as compared to Thoroughbreds.

Their racing strategy is such that they run consistently throughout the race without having to use any bursts of speed in the initial phase of the race.

This way, Quarter Horses are able to conserve their energy for later when they make a dash for the win.

They are also used in races with different kinds of strategies.

What does it mean to use different strategies?

It means that they are taught a variety of running techniques that help them to not grow tired either in the middle or towards the end of the race.

Quarter Horses can do better because they have been trained to build up their stamina and strength.

From what I have gathered, the Quarter Horse weight is such that they retain their endurance longer than the Thoroughbreds.

That’s because they are more compact and their weight does not limit their speed.

But this is only one reason why Quarter Horses beat Thoroughbreds.

American Quarter Horses originate from Thoroughbreds

This, I believe, is one primary reason why Quarter Horses can beat Thoroughbreds in almost all kinds of races.

They are created through and are the progeny of Thoroughbreds.

This means, American Quarter horses have all the good traits of Thoroughbreds and can be trained to race even better than the latter.

Quarter Horses aren’t merely created to be used for racing purposes.

They are also used at ranches, rodeos, and other horse shows.

This perhaps is the reason why they are less energetic but possess higher stamina.

And this ultimately is the reason they end up winning races more frequently.

They have the determination to carry on till the end and do not tire out after the initial bursts of speeds.


If you want to invest in a horse that wins the race every single time, no matter what the length or time duration of the race is, then Quarter Horse should be your number one choice.

Long Race vs. Short Race

In the study conducted by NCBI, It was seen that in shorter races, both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds were able to accelerate.

But when it came to longer races, Thoroughbreds would end up slowing towards the end of the race.

This happens because Thoroughbreds are taught to run at their most efficient levels from the very start.

They are often not trained to conserve their speed or strength.

This means that the Thoroughbreds become tired by the time the end of the race draws near.

And their speed is affected.


They become slow and their chances of winning from Quarter horses decrease.


The Thoroughbreds are unable to complete the race at their strongest.

Unlike the Thoroughbred, a Quarter Horse is calm and paces its energy perfectly.

They do not put bursts of speeds and retain the strength required to run at the same speed until the very end of the race.

Keep in mind though that Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses average the same when it comes to short races.

But since Quarter Horses are particularly trained for short races, chances of them winning are relatively high.

They are robust horses who can perform extremely well in all kinds of races so long as they are trained accordingly.

So what does this imply?

A Quarter Horse can easily beat Thoroughbreds in both short and long races.

The Size and Strength of the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred

Of course, the size and strength levels of the two horses differ.

Quarter horses are smaller in size as compared to Thoroughbreds.

This is because these horses are created for different purposes.

There are different types of Quarter horses. The racing hunter types are best for competing in a race.

This chart will help you understand their sizes better.

Quarter Horse Thoroughbred
Broad chested, refined head, muscled Slim, tall and powerful bodies
14-16 hands high 15.2-17 hands high
Excels at short distance sprints Known for races and creation of other breeds
Muscular hindquarters and powerful legs High speed, agility, and strength

From the chart above, you can see that even though Quarter Horses aren’t as tall or strong as the Thoroughbreds, they still win races when trained particularly for them.

This ability to win races has earned them the name ‘the world’s fastest athlete.’

The personality of the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred


A Quarter Horse does not just run races like the Thoroughbred. It also works on the ranch.

Due to their calm and friendly personality, Quarter Horses are ideal beginner horses.

This means that even if you are new to racing or have been thinking of learning horse racing, Quarter Horses are the perfect companion for you.

These gentle horses will learn with you and understand your mind better because they are intuitive and connect well their riders’ technique.

But Thoroughbreds are enormous, magnificent beasts and they often can’t be controlled by amateurs.

This is because they are too full of energy and when ridden, can become temperamental.

The Quarter Horse, on the other hand, is rarely ever annoyed and even when it gets so, it is placated very quickly and easily.


Whether you have been training for long or are new to the game, a Quarter Horse is an ideal racehorse for you.

Health Concerns and Injury

The thing about Thoroughbred is that they have a very small heart.

Not only that, Thoroughbreds are prone to injuries due to their excessive energy and high speeds.

Their horse-to-hoof ratio is also low which means that their chances of injuring their legs are significantly high.

These are only a few of the problems that Thoroughbreds experience in terms of their health.

Unlike the Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses are less likely to suffer from most injuries. Their strong hindquarters and sturdy legs ensure that they do not fall easily.

What’s more:

They also do not suffer from a variety of diseases that Thoroughbreds experience.

This is another reason why they make for great racehorses.

What do you think?

Are you convinced about the prowess of Quarter Horses and how they excel at everything they are taught?

In short, you can conclude the following:

  • Quarter Horses even though with less power, have more conserved energy. Read more on horse power here.
  • Thoroughbreds are liable to injuries and health risks
  • Quarter Horses can be trained for all kinds of races and can easily emerge as the winner
  • Thoroughbred tire quickly towards the end of the race, hence the reason why they may not be able to perform as well as Quarter Horses


Yes, Thoroughbreds are more energetic, powerful and robust, but it is the Quarter Horses that have higher levels of endurance.

And it is this that gets them to win all kinds of races and competitions.

Quarter Horses are smarter than Thoroughbreds and thus can be trained in whichever way their masters wish.

Opt for the racer and hunting type Quarter Horse and train it for the race. It will learn quickly and well, even if you too are a beginner at racing and competitions.

So long as you are planning to train your Quarter Horse with the right strategy, there is no reason why it would not be able to beat a Thoroughbred.

Trust me when I say that Quarter Horses are reliable and dependable when it comes to races.

You will not be disappointed with your choice!

Related Questions

How fast can a Quarter Horse run? The Quarter Horse is perfect for short distance races, particularly the quarter-mile runs, which is where it gets its name from. Its max speed is around 55 mph or 88.5 km/h.

Quarter horses are perfect at sprinting and can easily outdistance any horse in races that cover lesser miles.

How are Quarter Horses and Thoroughbred different from each other? Quarter horses are created by breeding a Thoroughbred with other types of horses.

They are different in physique, as well as their nature.

A Quarter Horse has a stocky build and muscular hindquarters which is why they are perfect for fast and short runs.

Thoroughbreds, on the other hand, are tall and lean with powerful bodies which are well suited for longer runs.

Why is a Quarter Horse given that name? Quarter horses excelled in and won quarter-mile races frequently, hence their name.

They were created to race in shorter races, and since they can beat all other breeds in them, they got famous as the “Quarter” horses.


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