How Long Can a Horse Run (And How Far)?

As a rider, it’s important to know your horse’s limits.

Having this knowledge would help you avoid overworking and injuring your horse.


How long can a horse run? A horse can cover 2 to 2.5 miles in a gallop before it starts to fatigue. But on a trot, a healthy horse can cover 20 to 30 miles in a day if allowed a few breaks in between. Some horses can push this limit further but it’s not good for their long-term health.

Do you want to know more about how long or far a horse can run?

If yes, then you’re in the right place!

How Long Can a Horse Run in One Go?

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Horses were the most commonly used animal for travel and commute back in the day.

This alone is enough to prove that horses are naturally great runners.


Although they have this natural ability, they can exhaust.

How fast that happens depends on whether the horse is walking, trotting, cantering or galloping.

How Long Can a Horse Run at a Gallop?

The maximum distance a galloping horse can cover in one go without a stop or break is between 2 and 2.5 miles.

This varies from breed to breed (lighter breeds like Arabians have better stamina) and obviously, also depends on the health and built of the horse.

When it’s galloping, all four legs of a horse are above the ground and the horse is mid-air.

This gives the horse the ability to cover more ground in lesser time.

The speed during gallops can be up to 55mph for racehorses but is usually between 25 to 30 mph.

After this one gallop, a horse needs to rest or else, fatigue and exhaustion can take over.

How Long Can a Horse Trot?

While trotting, a horse can go for up to 20 to 40 miles in a day if it has good stamina and is provided sufficient breaks in between.

Similarly, a walking horse can easily cover 32 miles in a day by walking for 8 hours without a break.

If you want, you can easily extend the total distance covered by any horse by alternating between a walk and a trot as needed.

Do not force your horse to run the entire time.

You may think it’s saving your time and helping you in covering a greater distance, but it’s really not.

Here’s the deal:

When your horse is running, it will get tired after every couple of miles. You’ll have to rest the horse and that’s where your time will be wasted.

On the other hand, if you let your horse’s gait shift between galloping, trotting, and walking at a steady pace, it may take more time to cover the same distance but the time wasted in breaks will minimize.

Overall, in the case of long distances, the time difference isn’t huge.

Yet, by avoiding sprinting throughout, you’ll not only keep your horse from getting fatigued, but you’ll also avoid health issues for the horse in the longer run.

Which Horse Breed Has the Most Stamina?

There are hundreds of different horse breeds.

Each breed is unique from the rest.

The factors that distinguish the breeds from one another are, of course, their characteristics.

While all horses can run, not every breed is ideal for the job. You cannot expect all horses to be great runners.

There are roughly 10 horse breeds that have great stamina.

With good stamina, a horse can understandably run well too.


Each of the 10 breeds offers different benefits.

So you can look into each breed thoroughly to find out which one will be the best runner to serve your purpose.

Thoroughbred horses are known to be a breed with the best stamina for racing.

Worldwide, Thoroughbred horses are the most common preference in the racing industry.

Since these horses are ‘hot-blooded’, they can naturally maintain a fast speed for longer periods.

Quarter horses are just behind thoroughbreds in terms of endurance.

They may not be as fast, but they are definitely strong enough to go through a long-distance race.

Their competitive nature keeps them running until the ending point.

Moving forward, Arabian horses are yet another great option to consider, especially since they are known to be the horses with the greatest endurance.

What makes them a good choice is not just their stamina, but also their easy trainability feature.

You can teach your Arabian horse to use its stamina the right way in a race.

Other horse breeds with great stamina include:

  • Andalusian Horse
  • Rocky Mountain Horse
  • Mustang Horse
  • Morgan Horse
  • Hanoverian Horse
  • Tennessee Walker
  • American Miniature Horse

How to Train a Horse for Better Stamina?

How long a horse can run doesn’t just depend on its breed but also on its training.

Let’s say you have a Thoroughbred horse.

It has good stamina and can run fast too.

But then again:

All Thoroughbred horses have those qualities.

How does your horse stand out?

To make sure your horse is the best racing horse with the strongest stamina, you can train it.

Strength Training

To improve the stamina of your horse, you should be looking at 3 to 4 workout sessions every week.

In the beginning, go for 15 to 20-minute sessions in one go.


You should aim to gradually stretch these sessions to 2 hours.

You can give a couple of breaks in the beginning but with time, your horse should be able to finish the session without any breaks whatsoever.

Of course, the intensity of the exercises should also be increased gradually to encourage growth in the stamina.

Start off with lunging exercises.

In this type of exercise, the horse runs around you in a circle for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how long you want the session to be.

Here’s a video that explains how to lunge your horse:

This is a great beginner exercise, especially for younger horses.

However, the best strength exercise for your horse is to run up and down a hill.

This isn’t the best to start off with and may also be inconvenient if you don’t live in a hilly area.

Trail riding is another good exercise for your horse. Encourage it to trot for the most part.

Speed Training

Your second motive is to boost up your horse’s running speed.

If you’re aiming to take part in a race, this part of the training requires a lot of attention.

You can start off with regular trotting.

Go for a 5 to 6-mile trot on your horse every day.

You don’t have to increase this distance because your main aim is to improve speed.

Extend the distance slowly to whatever the distance of the final race track is.


Time these trots to make sure that the horse’s speed in improving.

You’ll have to pressure your horse to run faster every day. You can do so by squeezing your heels and calves on the horse when riding it.

Once your horse gets used to it, let it practice on the race track.

This will help your horse get in the flow so that there are no sudden changes on the day of the race.


Throughout the process of training, never compromise on the diet of your horse.

If you’re going through all the hard work to increase your horse’s stamina, you’re probably aiming for a racing horse.

For this purpose, you should feed your horse between 7 and 9 kg of clean grass hay.

1 to 2 kg of alfalfa hay should also be mixed in.

Whichever protein you and your horse prefer is a vital part of the diet too.

Do not forget to increase cereals to compensate for the starch requirements.


Add in some sort of source for fats but only in a moderated amount.

FAQs About How Long Can a Horse Run

Well, there you have it!

We tried covering everything there is to know about the distance a horse can cover while running.

But you still might have a few questions in mind. In this section, we’ll take on questions from our readers and will try to answer them as clearly as possible.

Can a horse run itself to death?

If a horse runs continuously, it can die. Whether a horse is carrying a rider or not, it can run itself to death either way. However, this risk is generally only present in horses who have serious health issues such as heart problems or breathing issues. Most horses will stop or slow down when they get exhausted so their chances of dying from running are minimal.

As a horse owner, it’s your responsibility to provide proper rest to your equine buddy. It is, by no means, okay to make a horse run or gallop when it’s tired. Let your horse rest if it shows signs of fatigue and also avoid galloping too much.

How long would it take a horse to travel 20 miles?

The speed of a horse depends on the terrain and the weight that it is carrying. Generally, if the horse is carrying a rider with an average weight on a rather plain ground, it can take around 8 to 9 hours to cover 20 miles. This is considering the fact that the horse is mostly trotting and walking with a few gallops. A few resting breaks are also included in this time.

Can you ride a 20-year-old horse?

A horse’s average lifespan is 25 to 30 years. But a horse with a good diet and health can live for up to 40 years. So, a 20-year-old horse can be considered to be a middle-aged animal. If your 20-year-old horse is strong enough, you can ride it. But it’s best to avoid long distances, hilly terrains, and high speed running.

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