how far can a horse travel in a day

How Far Can A Horse Travel In A Day?

When someone asks how far can a horse travel in a day, my first response is: Tell me all about the horse. Loads of factors separate an average horse that can manage a 25-mile (40 km) trek and a top endurance animal that covers four times that.

We’ll dig into the many aspects that determine how far a horse can travel in a day, including their gait. Horses may not walk much faster than humans but most sure can run faster than us. We’ll look into the breeding that separates regular hackers from endurance ‘athletes’ and discuss preparing your horse to undertake longer rides safely and comfortably.

Average Distance A Horse Can Travel In A Day

You may have heard of horses travelling 100 miles (160 km) a day. There are endurance horses that travel such distances in events like the Tevis Cup, a ride through rugged mountain terrain in California.

An above-average trail horse may be able to ride for 75 miles (120 km) from dawn to dusk.

The Golden Horseshoe Ride in Exford, Somerset covers 100 miles over two days. Horses in the Red Dragon Ride in Wales usually cover 50 miles (80 km) in a day.

This shows that a fit horse can travel at least 50 miles (80 km) in a day with a rider in the saddle. Without a rider, these fine equines can cover a lot more ground.

But what about horses that are not so fit? An average horse in fair condition can typically travel between 25 and 35 miles (40-56 km) in a day with a rider. But don’t expect them to maintain such distance for too many days in succession. The reality is that most modern horses aren’t conditioned for long-distance riding.

The average distance a horse can travel in a day will vary based on a bunch of factors.

Factors That Influence How Far Horses Can Travel

  • Breed: Some breeds are just better designed for riding long distances, like Arabians. Other breeds are less suited to travel long distances, like Shires.
  • Age: Young horses, say under three years, may not be physically developed for endurance. At the other extreme, old horses may be too knackered to take on a long trip.
  • Health: A healthy horse with proper nutrition and regular vet care is more likely to cover greater distances comfortably. Keeping your horse healthy is key if you want to ride long journeys.
  • Conditioning and training: Expect horses that are well-exercised and conditioned to cover more ground than those that are not.
  • Terrain: A horse may gobble up the miles over a flat firm field but a steep rocky ravine is a different story.
  • Weather: Extreme weather conditions such as high temperatures, humidity, or cold weather will limit the distance a horse can ride in a day.
  • Rider’s experience and skills: The rider’s skill and riding style will affect the horse’s performance for better or worse. An experienced rider who understands the needs of the horse and rides it efficiently will get better performance from the animal.
  • Weight: The weight of the rider is also a factor as is the rider’s fitness. A good rising trot or a lively canter over a fair distance provides quite the workout for those in the saddle. Some equestrians are not fit enough to keep up with their horse’s abilities!

Horse Gaits And Horse Travel

Gaits play a crucial role in determining how far a horse can travel over time.

Images of a horse and rider galloping through the night to deliver a vital message are the stuff of movie drama and exaggeration. The truth is that most horses can only gallop for around 2 miles (3.2 km) before huffing and puffing and needing to rest.

Even trotting for further than 10 miles (16 km) continuously will tire some horses.

This means that any long-distance ride needs to be a well-managed combination of different gaits – and won’t include much galloping!

Below are the average speed ranges of the different gaits across all horses:

  • Walk – 2 to 4 miles per hour (3.2 – 6.4 km/h)
  • Trot – 8 to 12 mph (12.8 – 19.2 km/h)
  • Canter – 10 to 17 mph (16- 27.2 km/h)
  • Gallop – 25 to 30 mph (30 – 48 km/h)

If a horse walks 3.5 miles per hour for 7 hours, it will be able to clock 24.5 miles per day (39.2 km). Now, if you add some trotting and cantering into the journey, it can push the distance to 35 miles per day (56 km).

Some horses naturally have efficient movements, enabling them to move faster and further while using less energy. When efficient horses hack long distances, they may use a natural gait (a combination of walking and trotting) or an ambling gait (a happy intermediate speed between a walk and a fast canter or gallop).

Horses with a comfortable ambling gait, like the Tennessee Walker, can reach a smooth 20 mph (32 km/h), allowing them to push well beyond 35 miles in a day (56 km).

Horse Breeds – Great Endurance Breeds

The horse’s breed is vital when discussing good endurance horses. Below are the elites in the field.


Arabians are superb endurance horses. Arabians can run at high speeds for short distances and also maintain a steady trot for several hours.

An Arabian trotting at 12 miles per hour (19.2 km/h) for 3 hours, with a few short breaks, can cover 35 miles (56 km) all before some slower horses have even left the paddock!

This breed has dominated endurance racing events for decades. Don’t be surprised to see an elite Arabian horse run 100 miles in half a day.


This breed is descended from horses brought to America by Spanish explorers. Mustangs are renowned for their natural resilience and hardiness. Able to ride rough terrain and handle extreme weather, Mustangs also feature strongly in endurance races.

Morgan Horse

Morgans are no slouch in the endurance department either. Morgan horses have tons of stamina and can cope with many different terrains. They reach speeds of 35 mph (56 km/h) and have recorded 100 miles a day.

Mongolian Horses

Mongolian horses are a breed of small, hardy, and semi-wild horses that originated in Mongolia. They have been used for centuries by nomads and warriors. The 2015 book “Genghis Khan and the Mongol War Machine” records Mongol ponies routinely travelling 600 miles (960 km) in nine days in years gone by.

Today, they are still used to transport their owners long distances across the Mongolian steppes.


This breed is native to Turkmenistan, where it was used for raiding, war, and long-distance riding. Many modern Akhal-Tekes have Thoroughbred blood and are fast, agile, and resistant to heat and thirst.

Other contenders

Welsh Cobs, Icelandics, Appaloosas, Anglo-Arabians, the American Painted Horse, and the Tennessee Walker are some other breeds known for their ability over long hauls.

Training Horses For Big Rides

Training a healthy horse for a long-distance ride involves a committed focus on building up stamina, fitness, and strength. Here are vital tips:

  • Start gradually: Begin the training slowly, especially if your horse is not used to long hacks. Start with shorter distances and gradually increase the length and intensity. This gradual development allows the horse’s cardiovascular system, muscles, joints, and ligaments to adapt.
  • Vary the gaits: While walking is the most energy-efficient gait, you want to include trotting and cantering in controlled intervals to work different muscle groups and build overall strength and endurance. Alternate between intervals of high-intensity cantering (even galloping) and low-intensity walking.
  • Train on different terrains: Incorporate flat surfaces, hills, uneven terrain, and variable underfoot surfaces to prepare for different conditions and strengthen the horse’s joints and different muscles.
  • Rest and recovery: Recovery is a key part of the training. Allow time for rest and recovery between sessions. Overtraining can result in gains being reversed and an increased chance of injury. Pay attention to the horse’s body language and signs of fatigue and adjust the programme if necessary.
  • Nutrition and hydration: Ensure the horse receives proper nutrition and hydration. A well-balanced diet and access to fresh water are essential for maintaining energy levels during training.
  • Veterinary check-ups: Schedule regular vet check-ups throughout the process to monitor the horse’s health and fitness and address any potential issues.
  • Consistency: You need to stick consistently to any training, health, and fitness programme to achieve the best results.

Pacing And Rest Over Long Rides

How far a horse can travel in a day depends not only on its fitness and suitability but also on how the ride is paced. Proper pacing means maintaining speeds to allow the horse to conserve energy over the entire journey.

  • Don’t push too hard: Pushing a horse to ride at a high speed without breaks can lead to overexertion and possibly lameness and injury. Even a well-mannered horse may huff no mas’ and turn as stubborn as a mule when it is sore or exhausted.
  • Adjust for terrain: A sensible approach is to conserve energy on challenging surfaces and allow a bit more speed on easier ground.
  • Monitor temperature: Horses can overheat during prolonged physical activity. Pacing helps regulate the horse’s temperature and prevents overheating.
  • Monitor mental state: Long journeys can be mentally taxing for your riding companion. Pacing helps you to keep an eye on the animal’s well-being to ensure it doesn’t become stressed or anxious.
  • Rest breaks: Scheduling rest breaks are vital. These pause opportunities let you give your horse food and water. Keeping your horse hydrated is mission-critical. During the break, you can inspect the horse’s hooves and legs. You can also check vital signs and monitor for any distress.

Safety And Equipment On Long-Distance Travel

Safety is paramount when undertaking an all-day expedition. Follow the 3Ps – plan, prepare, protect. Research and familiarise yourself with your route as best as possible so that you understand the challenges, hazards, and risks that lie ahead.

Always check the weather forecast to avoid being out in extreme conditions.

It’s best to ride with one or more companions for mutual support and assistance.

Equipment and Tack: Make sure all your horse’s tack is in good condition and properly fitted.

  • The most crucial element is the right saddle. A well-fitting saddle ensures proper weight distribution, preventing pressure points and maximising comfort for all parties concerned.
  • Check for pressure points on straps and fastenings.
  • Ensure horseshoes are comfortable and not worn. Unshod horses may need to be fitted with boots for the trip.
  • Carry a charged phone for emergency communication and a map or GPS device so that you don’t get lost.
  • A first aid kit with aid items to cover both you and your horse is essential. Items like a hoof pick, a small multi-purpose tool and waterproof protection for both of you are a good idea. Consider a spare bridle, reins, and billet strap.

Nutrition and hydration:

  • Ideally, your vet will have advised on a specific nutrition plan for the preparation and the ride.
  • Ensure your horse is adequately hydrated before setting off.
  • Take enough water for both of you if there isn’t much natural water on the route.
  • Electrolytes to sustain total body water can be included.
  • A collapsible bucket is handy.
  • Tailor feed based on distance and workload. Hay cubes and high-energy snacks are convenient and beneficial for nutrition.


What is the longest horse endurance ride in the world?

The Mongol Derby is a 625-mile (1,000 km) ride across the Mongolian steppe that takes 10 to 12 days. Riders change horses every 25 miles (40 km) at way stations along the route.

Can Clydesdales travel far in a day?

Although they are big and burly and don’t have a long history as riding horses, Clydesdales make great hacking horses and can gallop up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h). They’re nowhere near the top of the table but a healthy, fit Clydesdale could carry you close to 25 miles in a day (40 km).

What is the shortest time a horse has completed 100 miles?

At the 2010 Crown Prince Endurance Cup in the UAE, the winning horse completed the 100-mile course in 5 hours, 45 minutes, and 44 seconds. This is one of the fastest 100-mile rides on official record.


The question, “How far can an average horse travel in a day?” begs another question: “What is an average horse in this context?”. There really isn’t one. Your family farm horse may just about manage 20 miles. A pedigree Arabian will comfortably achieve 100 miles. While a fit trail horse will cruise to 50 miles.

Horses are so different and diverse. And each one is unique. Some can amble and canter all day. Others are better known for their strength, jumping ability, or intelligence. There are endless talents, skills, and interesting temperaments to celebrate when it comes to our horses.

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