The 10 Fastest Horse Breeds in the World

fastest horse breeds

All horses love to run, and most of them are capable of reaching respectable speeds such as 35 or even 50 mph at full gallop. That being said, some horse breeds are known particularly for their speed, and that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today. The fastest horse breeds in the world include the likes of the Quarter Horse or the Thoroughbred – breeds that are renowned in the horse racing world.

Why are these horses so fast? Well, humans have been using selective breeding techniques for centuries in order to improve the speed, stamina, and temperament of equines.

It’s worth noting that fast horses can come from any breed, and they don’t necessarily need to be hot-blooded. A horse can also improve its speed with training and perseverance, but that’s a story for another time. Right now, let’s have a look at the 10 fastest horse breeds in the world. We’ll start off with relatively slower horses and make our way to the fastest ones as we go along.

10. American Miniature Horse.

Miniature Horse

The American Miniature Horse is a surprisingly fast horse breed considering its size. As one of the smallest horse breeds in the world, the Miniature Horse has shorter legs when compared to an average horse, but it makes up for this shortcoming with a bout of incredible energy and enthusiasm.

So how fast can a miniature horse run? Some horse owners have reported top speeds of up to 30mph, but I think an average mini horse would probably be able to reach between 18 mph and 20 mph. As always, the speed of a horse depends on its lifestyle, its training regimen, and even its diet.

All that being said, the American Miniature Horse is a quick and energetic little equine that could definitely go toe-to-toe with your average draft horse in a short race.

9. Akhal-Teke.

akhal teke

It’s incredibly difficult to find any accurate speed-records for Akhal-Teke. While this horse breed is widely known for its endurance and speed, nobody seems to know the exact top speed that this type of horse can achieve. In comparison to other breeds such as the Quarter Horse, it will obviously be slower. It will likely start off slow but would definitely catch up and run farther. If you ask me, an Akhal-Teke can definitely reach a speed of 20mph with relative ease.

That’s because the Akhal-Teke has incredible stamina and endurance. It can cover fast distances in harsh conditions, which makes it one of the toughest and most reliable horses in the world.

Moreover, it’s also one of the most beautiful horses out there, as Akhal-Tekes are known to possess a gorgeous coat with an eye-catching metallic sheen. The golden variant of the Akhal-Teke is particularly impressive, especially when observed up-close.

When it comes to height, these horses range between 14.2h and 16h. They have a generally tall and narrow profile with long legs, straight backs, and low tails without too much hair.

8. Morgan.

morgan horse

Back in the 10th century, the Morgan was a highly popular horse breed that met numerous utilitarian purposes. This was basically one of the best horses that you could own at the time for general riding and light driving work.

Today, the Morgan horse is used in a variety of disciplines, including dressage, endurance riding, and show jumping. While not necessarily the quickest off the line,  the Morgan breed certainly builds up speed and is able to maintain it for a decent amount of time.

At one point in time, Morgans were used exclusively for harness racing, which is a form of horse racing in which horses only use a specific gait such as a trot or a pace. This horse can grow up to 15.2 hands, and it features a muscular build as well as an expressive head and a well-arched neck.

How fast can a Morgan horse run? Usually around 20mph, maybe a bit more if the horse is pushed hard (which I never recommend).

7. Selle Francais.

selle francais horse

Selle Francais is a horse breed renowned for its athletic build and impressive jumping capabilities. It’s a tough horse that’s able to perform impressive feats even with a rider on its back.

Selle Francais is a sporty horse that stands between 16.1 to 16.3 hands tall. The breed was created shortly after World War II in France, where local breeders crossed regional breeds with the saddle type Anglo-Norman. The result is a speedy horse breed that possesses great intelligence and willingness to train.

Again, while specific figures regarding this breed’s speed are hard to come by, I’d wager that the Selle Francais is able to reach around 22mph at full gallop, which is definitely nothing to scoff at. Given its sporty nature, this horse will also be able to sustain its top speed for about 2 miles before it needs to slow down.

6. Standardbred.

standardbred horse

The Standardbred is mostly known as a harness racing horse, so it is definitely one of the fastest horse breeds out there. To be precise, a Standardbred can often reach speeds of up to 30mph. Not bad at all.

While it traces its roots back to 18th-century England, the Standardbred breed was actually developed in America. Some of the other equestrian activities that it excels at include pleasure riding and various horse shows. When compared to the Thoroughbred, the Standardbred is usually longer and has more muscle mass. It is also considerably calmer, which makes it very easy to work with.

Body-wise, it flaunts solid legs and powerful shoulders. It is able to able to trot or pace at impressive speeds, even when pulling small carriages.

5. Arabian.

arabian horse

The Arabian horse is probably one of the most popular horse breeds in the world. It’s certainly one of the most expensive, and as you’re about to find out, one of the quickest as well.

With a height ranging between 14.1 to 15.1 hands, this relatively small horse features a beautifully chiseled bone structure, an arched neck, and a high-carried tail. Just like the Akhal-Teke, this is an ancient and hot-blooded horse breed that was primarily developed for speed and stamina.

How fast is an Arabian horse? It is capable of reaching 34mph on average, while its top speed was recorded at around 40mph. Therefore, it is considerably faster when compared to the other horses on this list.

The Arabian is a light, muscular, and highly agile horse. It might not be the fastest horse breed in the world, but it’s definitely close if you ask me.

4. Mustang.

mustang horse

The Mustang is a free-roaming horse, but people usually refer to it as a wild horse. That’s not technically correct, as the Mustang’s direct descendant was domesticated. Therefore, the Mustang is actually a feral horse. It’s a quick feral horse too, as it is able to reach speeds of up to 54mph.

This breed was brought to the Americas by the Spanish, and nowadays, this horse is mostly used for trail riding or pleasure riding. It’s not uncommon to see it on the racetrack, but it can struggle to keep up with true racing horses that were bred specifically for the task.

If you’d like to see one of these beautiful horses in the wild, then you should probably book a trip to Nevada. That state holds more than half of all free-roaming mustangs in North America.

3. Appaloosa.

appaloosa horse

The most memorable thing about the Appaloosa is its unique appearance. This horse breed impresses with a colorful spotted coat pattern that makes an instant impression. Aesthetics aside, the Appaloosa is also one of the fastest horse breeds in the world. This horse can reach top speeds of up to 41mph.

Initially, Appaloosas received a so-called infusion of Quarter Horse blood in order to perform better in sprint racing and in halter competition. At a later date, Thoroughbred blood was added into the mix, and the result is a horse that can race with the best of them.

Appaloosas are also used for eventing, fox hunting, and show jumping. They are beautiful and graceful equines that can fill multiple roles with ease. While a warmblood, the Appaloosa is easy enough to work with and possesses above-average intelligence for a horse.

2. Thoroughbred.

thoroughbred

This list wouldn’t be complete without the renowned Thoroughbred – one of the fastest horse breeds in the world and definitely the best for long-distance racing. While some would be quick to assume that the Thoroughbred is the fastest horse in the world period, it’s actually not as quick off the line as the Quarter Horse, which is why it comes in second on my list.

The Thoroughbred can reach a top speed of around 44mph (43.97mph to be precise). This speed is officially recognized by Guinness World Record. The organization was present when Winning Brew, a Thoroughbred, managed to achieve this outstanding speed.

Tall, slim, and athletic, this horse is mainly used for racing, but it participates in other events as well, including dressage, combined training, polo, and show jumping.

1. Quarter Horse (Fastest Horse Breed).

american quarter horse

The American Quarter horse is the absolute fastest horse breed in the world at the time of writing. How fast is a Quarter Horse? It can reach a top speed of 55mph or 88km/h, which is simply mind-boggling.

A true example of pinnacle strength and agility, the Quarter Horse is the quickest off the line, but it won’t be able to maintain its speed for as long as a Thoroughbred, for instance. When it comes to sheer speed, however, it is unbeatable.

This horse breed traces its roots back to the 1600s. It is one of the oldest horse breeds, and it is definitely the most popular one in the States today, with almost 3 million registered head in 2014. Apart from racing, the Quarter horse also excels at horse shows and rodeos. It is also a very good ranch horse.