This question is not so easy to answer, because there are significant differences between the various gaits and the fitness of each animal.
For example, a well-trained and healthy horse can run three kilometers continuously without any problems. The same horse, on the other hand, can equally walk 60 kilometers a day.
Exhaustion sets in faster when running and can cause significant damage. You should therefore know the limits of your animal.
In this article you will learn how long and under what conditions a horse can run or be moved at different paces and how to increase its endurance.
In addition, we will show you what negative effects overloading can have and how you can tell that your horse is exhausted.
The different gaits at a glance
In relation to horses, three basic gaits are distinguished. These are:
The speeds that a horse can reach and how long it can sustain them depend, in turn, on various factors.
Therefore, the information given about the speed and the possible duration is only a rough guide.
How long can horses walk?
Walking means for horses to maintain their natural speed without haste or hurry.
They can move at this pace all day as long as they are allowed to eat and drink.
The speed is comparable to the walking pace of humans.
In eight hours, horses can travel up to 60 kilometers at a speed of about 7 kilometers per hour. The average speed without a rider, on the other hand, is 3.5 to 6 km/h.
Depending on circumstances, the total distance can be much shorter. Terrain, weather and state of health play just as decisive a role as physical condition.
Nevertheless, if you want to ride out particularly long and far with your horse, walking is the best choice.
How long can horses trot?
When trotting, horses reach speeds between 12 and 18 km/h. This means that they are twice to three times as fast as a horse. This means they are twice to three times as fast as at a walk.
Accordingly, the length of time they can run at the gait is shortened.
Every healthy and adult animal should be able to manage 20 minutes at a trot without any problems.
After that, it makes sense to take a break so as not to risk overloading.
How long can horses gallop?
Horses do not yet reach their absolute maximum speed when cantering. However, about 21 to 35 km/h are possible.
In racehorses, the speed is significantly higher again when they are trained and driven.
A normal, healthy riding horse can cover three to four kilometers at a canter.
However, you have to keep in mind that horses are immensely stressed by this. They quickly become exhausted and can suffer physical damage.
Therefore, horses should gallop only very short distances without proper training or other limitations.
Remember to take sufficient breaks between the individual racing units and do not expect your horse to do more than is healthy.
Which horse breeds have the greatest endurance?
There are significant differences between horse breeds. These are more than obvious in terms of size, weight and intended use due to the physique of Arabians and Cheshire Horses.
But which breeds are particularly fast and enduring?
American Miniature Horse
Rocky Mountain Horse
Thoroughbred / English Thoroughbred
Although these have good genetics in terms of endurance, proper training is critical for them as well.
In addition, they must be in good physical condition. Otherwise, prolonged racing is downright dangerous.
How can I train my horse’s endurance?
Here there is no difference to you. If you want to build up more stamina, you need regular training and the right nutrition.
It’s no different for your horse.
Depending on your animal’s fitness level, start small.
Start with regular, but short training sessions three to four times a week.
Whether you start with one minute of canter or five minutes depends on age and existing fitness.
Gradually increase the load in terms of distance, duration and speed. Give your horse at least one day to recover between training sessions.
Also, adjust the feed. When your animal trains like an athlete, it also needs the right nutrition.
High-quality hay, protein and fats are critical to increasing endurance – without posing a threat.
Training through lunging
Lunging is a good way to increase a horse’s endurance in a gradual and controlled manner.
It can be done without a rider and can be timed well.
If you are short of time or do not have the opportunity to go for a ride, lunging can be an alternative and compensation for well-trained horses.
Keep in mind that not every horse enjoys walking in circles for long periods of time. Therefore, the motivation can be low if the training is too long or too frequent.
It is also better for the motivation of you and your horse as well as for the training of endurance and musculature if you alternate again and again.
Leisurely, longer rides, tempo rounds, riding uphill and downhill – this mixture increases the condition in a natural way and with fun.
For normal riding horses this is perfectly sufficient. The situation is different, of course, when training to become a racehorse.
The difference here is like between a jogger and a sprinter or marathon runner training for the Olympics.
On the one hand, this means harder and stricter training. But on the other hand, it also means a higher risk of injuries and health restrictions.
Is that true: Horses run until they die?
In individual cases, this can certainly occur. This is always true if there is already a health problem or the horse is driven too hard.
If signs of exhaustion or overtiredness are overlooked and the horse still has to keep running, immediate death is not always the result.
Likewise, it can lead to heart problems or put excessive stress on the lungs and musculoskeletal system.
So horses can certainly run themselves to death. To prevent this from happening, you need to use caution.
When should you not let your horse run?
An individually adapted training is always sensible. However, do not overtax your animal.
Prevent stress and fear or even panic through external influences such as abrupt loud noises, too strong a drive or the use of a whip.
If you notice fatigue or unwillingness, you should stop the ride or training. Take breaks, let your horse eat and drink.
Other reasons for not pushing your endurance are:
already known health problems
extremely high or low temperatures
sudden changes in behavior
If you are constantly forcing your horse to exercise, there is a problem. You should always have this clarified before continuing training.
How long can and should horses run?
Horses are flight animals and are physically adapted to run far quickly.
They trot and canter for fun and play, but should not be pushed beyond their limits in sport.
As long as you keep that in mind, there’s nothing stopping long rides and high speed.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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