Top 8 Fastest Horse Breeds In The World

Complete Guide to The World’s Fastest Horse Breeds

Horses have many fascinating features. Not only are they beautiful creatures but they can also perform incredible feats of strength and speed. With well over 350 horse breeds known to man, how do you determine which ones are the fastest? By learning more about these amazing creatures, we can better understand and appreciate their wide range of skills and abilities. 

So, what are the top eight fastest horse breeds in the world? While many horse breeds around the world can run at incredible speeds, the top eight fastest horse breeds include the following: Akhal-Teke, Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Quarter Horse, Arabian, Mustang, Appaloosa, and Andalusian. There are, of course, exceptions to this list found among other breeds. However, as a whole, these eight horse breeds qualify as the fastest in the world. 

Although we do not see these horse breeds exhibiting their top speeds on a daily basis, we know that many of these breeds are capable of reaching speeds of 55mph. In this post, we will take a closer look at the fastest eight horse breeds in the world. We will also learn which horse is the fastest horse to ever live. Not only will this allow you to learn more about our equine companions but it will also provide you with some incredible trivia to share around the barn. 

1. Thoroughbred

Ask any equestrian what the fastest horse breed in the world is and they will be quick to answer with Thoroughbred. Thoroughbreds hold the current Guinness World Record for the highest horse speed in the world. With a record of 70.76 kilometers per hour, the Thoroughbred dominates the racing industry.

Thoroughbreds weigh, on average, between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds. They stand between 15 hands and 17 hands high. Because of their “hot-blooded” demeanor, Thoroughbreds are not well-suited for new equestrians or horse owners. With a spirited, intelligent, and athletic demeanor, the Thoroughbred is powerful and agile. 

The Thoroughbred originated in Great Britain in the late 17th century. Originally introduced as racing horses, Thoroughbreds continue to dominate the racing world while also excelling in barrel racing, eventing, and show jumping.

In horse racing, you may see Thoroughbreds wearing blinders to help them focus on the track. To learn more about blinders and their uses, check out my article What Horse Blinders Are Used For: Everything You Need to Know.

2. Akhal-Teke

The Akhal-Teke is recognized as one of the oldest domesticated horse breeds still used today. This majestic breed was developed in modern-day Turkmenistan for its endurance and speed. Because of this, it is no surprise that this breed appears on the list of the fastest horse breeds in the world! 

Akhal-Teke horses weigh between 900 to 1,000 pounds and stand between 14 hands to 16 hands high. Their bony, flat-muscled build may be vastly different from many of the other deep-chested horse breeds. However, this rare creature makes up for in speed what some may believe it lacks in appearance.

Because of their high intelligence, incredible stamina, and fiery demeanor, Akhal-Tekes are not recommended for horse owners or equestrians with little experience. While the Akhal-Teke may be one of the fastest horse breeds in the world, it is also one of the rarest with a population of fewer than 5,000 horses.

You can learn more about Akhal-Tekes and rare horse breeds in my article Fantastic Horse Breeds and Where to Find Them.

3. American Standardbred

Quite similar to the Thoroughbred, the American Standardbred excels in a variety of competitive events including racing, eventing, show jumping, barrel racing, and more. While they do not reach speeds quite as high as the Thoroughbred, they are quite fast and fun to ride.

American Standardbreds are intelligent yet friendly, making them a great fit for both experienced and amateur riders and owners. With an average weight of 800 to 1,200 pounds, standing at a height of 14 hands to 17 hands high, the Standardbred is an average mid-sized horse.

The American Standardbred earned its name in 1879 from the National Association of Trotting Horse Breeders. To qualify for the registry, the Standardbred had to run a standard mile time of 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

4. American Quarter Horse

Although the Thoroughbred is, by far, the fastest horse breed when gauged over a long distance, nothing compares to an American Quarter Horse’s ability to sprint short distances. With incredible acceleration, endurance, and strength, the American Quarter Horse can reach a top speed of 88 kilometers per hour when measured in quarter-mile increments. As you can imagine, this trait is precisely how the breed earned its name.

In addition to having incredible racing abilities, Quarter Horses have a calm, friendly demeanor. Because of this, they are well-equipped for trail riding, dressage, showjumping, ranch work, and almost every other area of the equestrian world.

One of the most popular horse breeds in North America, the Quarter Horse weighs approximately 950 to 1,200 pounds and stands 14 hands to 16 hands high when fully grown. Their versatility and loyalty, among many other positive characteristics, make the American Quarter Horse suited for all levels of riders and equestrians.

5. Arabian

The Arabian Horse is regarded as one of the oldest horse breeds in the world. With a unique ability to conserve energy, Arabians can run long distances at high speeds. Not only are Arabians fast but they are also striking in appearance. 

Arabians weigh between 800 to 1,000 pounds and stand 14 hands to 16 hands high. While Arabians are hot-blooded in nature, they are also friendly and intelligent. However, due to their hot-blooded nature, Arabians are best suited for experienced riders and horse owners.

Although Arabians are rather small compared to other horse breeds, their compact build provides them with incredible strength, stamina, and agility. Arabian horses excel in speed as well as long-distance trail riding, dressage, ranch work, show, and pleasure riding. 

6. Mustang

Mustangs are an incredibly versatile breed, excelling in ranch work, trail riding, dressage, racing, and more. With a stocky build and a long life expectancy, Mustangs are strong and hearty. Mustangs weigh around 800 pounds, standing approximately 14 hands to 15 hands high. This makes them one of the smaller horse breeds on this list. 

And while small is a good description of their physical build, it certainly does not describe the size of this breed as a whole! Mustangs are currently facing overpopulation due to breeding in the wild. Because of this, they are no longer bred in captivity. 

While many mustangs have a calm, friendly demeanor, others tend to be more hot-blooded. Because of this, a new rider must be certain to understand the behaviors and characteristics of their horse before investing in a Mustang.

7. Appaloosa

The Appaloosa is known as a friendly, loyal, versatile breed of horse. Because of their gentle demeanor, they are wonderfully-suited for all levels of equestrians and horse lovers. Every equestrian will be quick to tell you how beautiful Appaloosas are, however they are also incredibly fast! 

Appaloosas excel in a variety of areas in the equine community. They are most often seen participating in racing, and trail riding, both in Western and English circuits. The compact build of the Appaloosa provides it with strength, speed, and agility. Weighing between 950 to 1,200 pounds and standing 14 hands to 15 hands high, the Appaloosa is most commonly known for its spotted and colorful coat patterns.

8. Andalusian

The Andalusian horse has a long, flowing mane and beautiful tail, these are just a few of the features that set this breed apart. Andalusians are versatile with a wide range of skills. They regularly participate in dressage events, trail riding, driving, and pleasure classes.

Andalusian horses weigh between 900 to 1,100 pounds with an average height of around 15 hands high. While the Andalusians are known for their beautiful, stunning appearance, they are also incredibly fast! Their compact, athletic build provides them with incredible stamina and speed. 

The Fastest Horse to Ever Live

So, who was the fastest horse to ever live? Secretariat is commonly regarded as the fastest horse in history. However, Guinness World Records may not agree. According to a 2008 world record, Winning Brew is the fastest racehorse.  This Thoroughbred is recorded to run 70.76 kilometers per hour (or 43.97mph). 

How does this compare to Secretariat’s speeds? Winning Brew was recorded to run at a top speed of 43.97mph. An average Kentucky Derby winner runs around 37mph. Secretariat, while certainly a record-breaking equine, was recorded to run at a top speed of 38mph.

In Conclusion

With so many horse breeds in the world today, many horses continue to shatter records in speed, stamina, and strength. It is fascinating to learn more about the incredible feats of our equine companions. With new training and breeding techniques appearing in our community yearly, we can only anticipate the great feats of speed that are to come in the future.

Related Questions

What are the biggest horse breeds in the world? The biggest horse breeds known to man include the following: Clydesdale, Shire Horse, Belgian Draft, Dutch Draft, Percheron, Suffolk Punch, Dole, and Fjord. Some of the largest horses to ever live include Sampson, Big Jake, and Goliath.

What is the smallest horse breed known to man? The smallest horse breed in the world is the Falabella. This tiny equine has an average height of only 24-36 inches tall! Some of the other small horse breeds include the following: Noma Pony, Shetland Pony, Guoxia, and Miniature Horse

What is the strongest horse breed known to man? The Belgian Draft Horse has a reputation for being the strongest horse breed in the world. They continue to secure their title by pulling incredible amounts of weight in global pulling contests. A few of the other horse breeds that qualify as the strongest include the following: Shire Horse, Dutch Draft Horse, Percheron, and Suffolk Punch Horse.

Want to know more about the different types of horses out there? Check out these articles:


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