What is the Fastest Horse

What is the Fastest Horse? [8 fastest horse breeds]

The Fastest Horse is generally thought to be the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Other horses that laid claim to the fastest horse title are Winning Brew, Sea Biscuit, and Man o’ War. The fastest horse breeds are Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Andalusians.

Many people wonder who the fastest horse is. What is the fastest horse breed?

What Makes a Horse Fast
What Makes a Horse Fast?

Horse racing, an event to determine the fastest horse, is one of the oldest sports in the world. Cultures across the globe have spent thousands of years breeding the fastest horse breeds to win prestigious races of all kinds. 

From long-distance desert racing to well-known American circuits like the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes horse racing is a lucrative pastime for many who want to play the odds. 

Even at smaller, lesser know horse racing facilities, people are intrigued by the chance to enter their name in the history books along with their prized racehorses.

What is the Fastest Horse in the World? 

Many factors go into play with this question, and we’ll explore those here as well as discuss some of the most popular and familiar racing breeds. 

What is the Fastest Horse in the World
What is the Fastest Horse in the World?

We’ll also look at some prime examples that have captured the attention and interest of the racing world over the years, and see who has enshrined their names among the fastest horses in the world.

What are Horses Used For?

Horses are one of the most versatile animals in nature and one that mankind has domesticated throughout the centuries. 

Many have been trained to be used as steeds in combat, with some nations still utilizing mounted troops for both military and local law enforcement. 

Horses have also been used as work animals, hauling large loads or used as a means to shepherd livestock spread over large distances. 

Until recent history, horses were among the most common and reliable means of land-based travel.

What Makes a Horse Fast?

Another common use is for racing. Rich and influential members of the community would spend exorbitant sums to pamper and train horses to win major races. 

Then, once those horses were past their racing prime, they would be used to breed the next generation of racing stars.

What Makes a Horse Fast
What Makes a Horse Fast?

As many breeders and trainers would tell you, the title of “the fastest horse” depends on many things. 

This includes the physical makeup of the horse, the training and grooming regimen, and what type of race in which the horse is meant to compete. 

Horses Gait

There are some common features of how a horse actually runs that affect its ability to reach high speeds. This is the horse’s gait.

Horses Stride

First is the horse’s stride. This refers to the distance a horse can step in a single bound. More specifically, how far a single foot can travel when a horse is running. 

The longer a horse’s stride, the more distance it can cover in less time.

Horses Stride Rate

Digging deeper, the stride rate is the number of strides a horse can complete over a given timeframe. 

The goal would be to have a greater stride rate, which would indicate a greater number of strides which translates to a greater distance traveled.

That being said, the stride distance and the stride rate must remain consistent in order for the horse to reliably perform at peak levels. 

For example, if the stride rate were to increase but the distance of each stride goes down, the horse becomes a less effective racer.

Horses Stride Angle

Another key factor is the stride angle. This refers to the distance between a horse’s front foot and back foot and can be helpful in calculating how far a horse will flatten out during a race. 

This is important for aerodynamics and body flow and efficiency; having a high stride angle signifies a horse that can cover ground quickly and efficiently.

Horses Anatomy

The length of a horse’s neck also plays a role in how fast it can run. A short neck may give a slight advantage to build up speed quickly but a horse with a long neck may also see benefits in other areas such as longer distance ability.

Numerous other factors come into play, such as the horse’s overall muscular endurance, as well as the strength of its respiratory system, which in turn affects its circulation.

Horses Temperament

A horse’s temperament can play a role in how fast they run.

Hot Blooded Horse

Hot Blooded Horse
Hot Blooded Horse

You may have heard the term, hot blooded temperament. This simply means that hot blooded horses tend to be excitable and react quickly to events around them. 

Training and fine-tuning can only do so much. Every part of a racehorse must be kept healthy in order for it to perform at peak condition.

This barely scratches the surface of understanding the fundamentals of what makes a racehorse a peak performer, but it can help shine a light on how complex the sport is.

Horse Racing Breeds

Different breeds of horses are uniquely qualified for different kinds of racing. Understanding and applying the knowledge of these differences can ensure victory on the circuit. 

Most importantly having a good depth of knowledge in these areas ensures humane and healthy treatment of the animal itself.

Fastest Race Horses

A select few horses have secured their names in the history books for their exceptional speed.

Fastest Horse in the World

Winning Brew

The most widely recognized “fastest horse in the world” was Winning Brew, a thoroughbred who could maintain a running speed of nearly 44 miles per hour.


Seabiscuit is another popular racing horse that was victorious for much of the 1930s and 1940s. It was a smaller thoroughbred horse, but it was able to capitalize on its speed to win many races. 

Man o’ War

Interestingly, Seabiscuit’s sire, Man o’ War, had a massive stride which made him a formidable champion in his own right.


Secretariat is probably the most famous racehorse ever! Known for its high stride angle, Secretariat set records that still stand today. 

He holds track records for the Triple Crown of American horse racing at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.

Types of Horse Races

Another question that must be discussed to determine the fastest horse is the type of race the horse is competing in?

A short-distance, speed-based race is vastly different from a grueling endurance race. 

While a longer endurance race will typically result in a lower overall top speed, shorter races do not require as much endurance. 

As a result, those horses can typically be driven to expend more energy by going faster. 

Fastest Horse in the World MPH

Horses that run in quarter-mile races, which have taken place in America for over 200 years, can sometimes achieve speeds of up to 55 miles per hour.

Speed is also measured related to distance. Typical distances include 350 yards, the quarter-mile, and a mile and a half (distances usually covered by most modern American horse races).

Fastest Breed of Horse

Here is a list of some of the fastest racing horse breeds in the world.

American Paint Horse

American Paint Horse
American Paint Horse

The American Paint has a lot of the characteristics of the American Quarter Horse. So guess what? Yes, just like the Quarter Horse they can run very fast!

Their origins date back to the horses that the Spanish brought to North America and the wild horses that resulted over time.

American Paint Horses were a favorite of the Native American tribes and were often used as war horses. You can learn more at the American Paint Horse Association.

American Quarter Horse

This American breed came from mixing English and Spanish horses together when the first European colonists settled in North America. 

The Quarter Horse has become the hallmark for sprinting and short-distance racing. 

American Quarter Horse
American Quarter Horse

In fact, the very name “quarter horse” came from their ability to set records over a quarter-mile distance. Record speeds for this kind of race can reach up to a blistering 55 miles per hour.

American Quarter Horses have dense legs and a compact frame, which gives them the power they need to cover short distances in record time. 

Today, these horses are frequently used for ranch work herding cattle, as well as starring in western horse shows where speed and maneuverability are key. Their sprint speed and strength make them great for barrel racing events.

Standardbred Horse

In many ways, this breed lives up to its name. The standardbred sets the standard in all-around performance and teachable demeanor. 

This breed came from a mixture of species previously found in New England, although the original breeds have since gone extinct.

Strong legs and shoulders give this breed a powerful stride, and they perform well in harness racing. 

Perhaps most importantly, standardbreds are incredibly friendly and demonstrate a willingness to learn quickly. 

Beginner riders will benefit from getting their feet wet with this type of horse before moving on to more advanced or specialized breeds. They are great for trail riding.

Thoroughbred Horse

If you ask a breeder what the fastest breed is, they will likely all answer that the Thoroughbred breed holds the crown for the fastest speed. 

Thoroughbred Horse
Thoroughbred Horse

Thoroughbreds hold the Guinness world record for the fastest horse running speed. They are prized possessions and know as legendary racehorses.

All Thoroughbreds traces their lineage back to three powerful and pure breeds: Arabian, Barb, and Turkoman. 

In particular, all Thoroughbreds trace their linage back to three horses, Darley Arabian, Godolphin Arabian, and Byerley Turk.

Over time, extensive breeding and research have made this type of horse prized for its speed, making it ideal for racing. 

Another hallmark of thoroughbreds is their endurance, as they can sustain higher speeds over long distances.

To excel at these long distance events they have long legs, leaner bodies, and a longer neck than an average Quarter Horse would have.

Arabian Horse

When you want a long-distance racer, Arabian horses are your best bet. This is one of the oldest and purest breeds in the world, originating in the Middle East and dating back to the 11th century. 

Arabian Horse
Arabian Horse

Their endurance is also owed to the fact that they were originally bred in the Arabian desert, which could have helped them endure in the harshest conditions.

Arabians may be smaller than other breeds, but their stamina and agility make them a worthy selection when choosing the ideal horse for endurance races. 

Their rich breeding heritage is also key as many modern breeds can trace their origins back to an Arabian at one point or another.

Two other factors make Arabians a great (albeit expensive) choice. One is their beauty.  In addition to how these horses perform, their physical appearance stands out above other breeds. 

Another is their behavior. They naturally get along with humans and generally have even tempers, meaning they can be bred and trained more easily than some other breeds.

Andalusian Horse

Andalusians are also known as Spanish horses, tracing their heritage back to the rich breeding history of Spain.

These horses are known for their beautiful features, including long flowing manes and tails.

Andalusian Horse

Andalusians are also a versatile breed because of their extensive maneuverability under various conditions. 

They also possess great stamina and speed, which can make them ideal for long-distance racing or dressage shows.

They can help any rider or breeder stand out from the competition.

Appaloosa Horse

Appaloosas are uniquely American horses, not derived from any other continental breed. They were originally bred and maintained by the Nez Perce Native American tribe. 

Appaloosa Horse
Appaloosa Horse

The Appaloosa was used as a war horse, however, it was equally at home fighting in battles and still being friendly enough to be used when training children. 

Appaloosa horses were used for fighting and traveling. They excelled over long distances. This is due to the combination of a compact frame and the winning trifecta of endurance, speed, and strength.

Unfortunately, the Appaloosa breed was nearly driven to extinction almost a hundred years ago. Work from activists and attentive breeders saved these horses, and they thrive today in certain circles.

Akhal-Teke Horse

Akhal-Teke is another one of the oldest horse breeds. Their origins date back over 3000 years ago from the country of Turkmenistan.

Akhal-Teke Horse
Akhal-Teke Horse

The Akhal-Teke breed may be the world’s first racehorse. They were originally used by Middle Eastern tribes a thousand years ago for raids, and owning one of these horses was considered a status symbol. 

While riding an Akhal-Teke requires experience and is not recommended for horse novices, they are exceptionally fast and can handle surprisingly heavy loads due to their unique body composition.

In addition to their performance abilities, they possess a unique sheen to their coats which adds to their beauty. They also forge strong bonds with their owners.

Fastest Horse Related Questions

Can a Quarter Horse Beat a Thoroughbred?

A Quarter Horse probably could beat a Thoroughbred in a short race as Quarter Horses have been clocked at up to 55 MPH! But chances are a Thoroughbred will win over a longer distance.

Remember, the Quarter Horse is known for running fast in the quarter mile distance.

Are Mustang Wild Horses Fast?

Yes, Wild Mustangs can run very fast. We didn’t include them in the list above because Mustangs are born as wild horses. But they are so fast and agile we had to add them here!

What is the Most Expensive Race Horse?

A horse named, Fusaichi Pegasus, reportedly sold for $70 million dollars! The expensive Thoroughbred won the Kentucky Derby in the year 2000.


Figuring out the fastest horse is not as easy as it sounds. Many breeds are fast. Throughout history, horse racing has been utilized to determine the fastest horse. 

Finding the exact combination of breeding, training to create the fastest horse is difficult. It sometimes requires generations of fine-tuning and the work of hundreds of experts along with vast sums of money. 

However, the prestige that is associated with being the fastest horse is highly valued by individuals and nations around the world.

What is the Fastest Horse

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