Last Updated on January 25, 2022
Talk about fast horses, and most of us automatically think about Thoroughbreds! But of course, there are many other fast breeds of horses, including the Mustang. But how fast is the Mustang horse top speed?
Many people don’t know much about Mustangs, as they don’t come across this semi-wild breed of horse very often. However, to be able to survive in the wild, Mustangs must be pretty fast to flee from predators!
Let’s take a look at Mustangs, and find out what the Mustang horse top speed is.
What Is A Mustang Horse?
Many people say that the Mustang is a wild horse, but that is not true. Mustangs are descended from horses that were once domesticated. This means that they are classed as feral horses, not wild.
The original Mustangs were descended from Spanish horses. Their name is derived from the Spanish word ‘mesteño’ which means wild or stray. European settlers brought their horses with them to America, where some escaped and others were taken in Indian raids.
Over the years, many other bloodlines were introduced to the wild Mustang. Draft breeds were added to the wild herds, as well as horses from French bloodlines and U.S. cavalry horses. To put it simply, any horse which was set free or escaped would end up joining a herd of Mustangs!
These free-roaming horses have posed problems over the years, with the population becoming too high and regular culling taking place.
The modern solution to the Mustang population problem is to capture and distribute them to potential new owners. These horses need expert retraining but make excellent riding horses with many benefits.
As a riding horse, the Mustang is athletic and quick-witted, with high levels of endurance. They can turn sharply and respond very quickly to aids. They can also change pace rapidly and cope with rough and rugged terrain.
This makes them perfect for trail rides and long-distance rides. Mustangs are also great mounts for agility riding, especially reining and barrel racing.
Another benefit to the Mustang horse is that they are tough and able to survive in difficult conditions. This is not a breed that will thrive with being pampered. In fact, they are more likely to become obese than too thin!
Are Mustang Horses Fast?
With horses that live in the wild, it can be difficult to find out how fast they can truly run. However, luckily many Mustangs have been domesticated, so we do have some facts and figures about their physical capabilities.
As a herd, a group of Mustangs can travel very quickly. They can also travel for long distances and will cover up to 20 miles per day in search of food and water.
When it comes to size, the Mustang might be fast, but they are relatively small. The average height of a Mustang is just 14 to 15 hands high. This is much smaller than racehorses like Thoroughbreds, who average around 16 hands high.
Some Mustangs are also gaited, meaning that they have a unique movement that allows them to cover ground rapidly and comfortably. If you are lucky enough to get a gaited Mustang, you will find them very comfortable to ride indeed!
How Fast Is A Mustang Horse?
For a small horse, the Mustang can pull off some pretty impressive speeds. Their average speed at a gallop is between 25 and 30 mph.
Now, this is a good speed for a horse and enables the Mustang to flee from danger when roaming wild. As a riding horse, this speed is plenty fast enough for most of us horse riders!
What Is The Mustang Horse Top Speed Over A Short Distance?
So a Mustang can gallop comfortably for considerable distances at around 30 mph. But can they go faster than this?
Over a short distance, the Mustang can get up to much higher speeds. Like all horses, they can sprint very quickly, but will soon become tired.
The fastest speed recorded for a Mustang over a short distance is a phenomenal 54 mph!
We’d all agree that this is an impressive speed, but how does it compare to other breeds of horses?
How Does Mustang Horse Speed Compare To Other Horse Breeds?
For a smaller breed, the Mustang ranks relatively high when it comes to speed! In fact, the Mustang is the 6th fastest breed of horse in the world. The only horses which have been recorded as faster than the Mustang are:
- Quarter Horse
The Quarter Horse tops the list because it can reach incredibly high speeds over short distances. This is how the breed got its name – it is the fastest horse over a quarter of a mile. The Quarter Horse can reach speeds of 55 miles per hour and can maintain this for longer than the Mustang horse.
But why are Thoroughbreds used for racing, and not Quarter Horses? This is because the Quarter Horse can only maintain high speeds for short distances. The Thoroughbred is slightly slower but has the stamina to run at their top speed for a much longer distance.
Arabians are also very fast and have high levels of stamina and endurance. Arab horse racing is still very popular, and this breed is also one of the athletes of choice for endurance racing. Arabians were bred thousands of years ago for traveling at high speeds across the desert, and they have maintained this ability to this day.
Appaloosas have very similar bloodlines to both Mustangs and Quarter Horses, so it is no huge surprise that they are also very fast. The Standardbred is a gaited horse, often used as a trotter in harness races. It can trot at speeds averaging 30 mph – the same speed as a gallop for most horse breeds!
So, as we have learned, the Mustang is a feral horse that is capable of some impressive top speeds. Over short distances, the Mustang can reach speeds of 55 miles per hour. They also have incredible endurance and can travel over long distances every day, at speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about Mustang horses – do you know anyone who has ever owned one? Or perhaps you dream of retraining one of these magnificent feral horses? Add a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE