Quarter Horse Top Speed – How Fast Can They Go?

Last Updated on November 7, 2021

When anyone mentions fast horses, we automatically think of Thoroughbreds! But there are many other speedy breeds of horse, including the Quarter Horse. But just how fast is the Quarter Horse top speed?

If you’ve ever seen a Quarter Horse in action, you will know that they are incredibly agile! But does this athletic ability also mean it is a fast breed of horse?

Let’s find out everything we need to know about Quarter Horses, including what their top speed really is!

What Are Quarter Horses?

The American Quarter horse is one of the most popular and oldest breeds of horse in North America. There is good reason for this horse’s popularity, as it has many positive qualities and very few negatives!

The Quarter Horse is descended from Spanish and English horses. These were used in the American colonies in the 1600s and were crossed with native American horse breeds.

The Quarter Horse is suitable for both novice and experienced riders. They are gentle and easy to train and capable of learning new skills easily. They are sturdy, strong, and very athletic.

What Are Quarter Horses

One of the most impressive traits of the Quarter Horse is its incredible agility. It can start, stop, turn and spin quicker than any other breed of horse. This is why the Quarter Horse is so popular as a ranch horse.

When it comes to intelligence, the Quarter Horse comes at top of the list for many horse fans. They can learn to solve problems and puzzles and are good-natured and loyal horses.

You might be wondering why the Quarter Horse has such an unusual name! In fact, this name actually tells us a lot about how fast these little horses are.

The Quarter Horse gets its name for its racing ability, particularly in races over a quarter of a mile. This breed soon came to dominate these short sprint races, earning the name ‘Quarter Horse’.

Why Are Quarter Horses So Fast?

The reason that Quarter Horses are so fast comes down to their physical characteristics. This is not a particularly big breed of horse, standing between 14 and 16 hands high – much smaller than other fast breeds such as Thoroughbreds.

However, the Quarter Horse is incredibly muscular, with powerful hindquarters and strong limbs. This means that they can propel themselves forward incredibly rapidly, enabling them to achieve high speeds in just a few strides.

Foundation Sires of the American Quarter Horse

If you compared these breeds of horses to humans, then the Quarter Horse would be the 100 meter champion of the world! They can reach high speeds very quickly and are very impressive when it comes to a sprinting start.

However, these little horses cannot maintain their top speed for long. They can run for long distances, but not at the same speed as their sprint start. Quarter Horses have good stamina levels and can cover miles of ground every day, but not at their top speed.

How Fast Does A Quarter Horse Run?

Most breeds of horse gallop at around 25 to 30 miles per hour, which is plenty fast enough for most of us! If you’ve ever ridden a horse at a gallop, you will understand just how rapid this feels, as the ground flashes by underneath your horse’s hooves!

But can Quarter Horses go faster than this? Yes, they definitely can! In races, the average speed of a Quarter Horse is around 50 miles per hour. This is nearly double the speed of some other breeds of horse!

This is why Quarter Horses are so popular for high-speed agility sports, such as rodeo events. These include reining, cattle penning, and barrel racing.

The Quarter Horse is not so rapid over longer distances, although it does have high levels of stamina. Riders who want a horse that will travel at speed for a long time are more likely to opt for a Thoroughbred or Arabian horse.

How Fast Is A Quarter Horse Top Speed?

The Quarter Horse has the proud title of being the fastest horse in the world! Over a short distance, it can achieve speeds higher than any other breed of horse, even the Thoroughbred and Arabian.

Over short racing distances, the Quarter Horse will run at around 50 miles per hour. However, speeds of up to 55 miles per hour have been recorded during Quarter Horse races! These short sprints are so rapid and fast that these powerful little horses can reach high speeds very quickly, but they will not maintain them for long.

Is Any Other Horse Faster Than A Quarter Horse?

The Quarter Horse tops the list of the fastest horses in the world because it can reach incredibly high speeds over short distances. No other breed of horse has been recorded at running faster than a Quarter horse over a quarter of a mile.

The top five fastest breeds of horse in the world are:

  • Quarter Horse
  • Thoroughbred
  • Arabian
  • Appaloosa
  • Standardbred
Appaloosa - Other Horse Faster Than A Quarter Horse

But this might make you wonder why Thoroughbreds are used for racing, and not Quarter Horses? The reason for this is that the Quarter Horse can only maintain high speeds for short distances, so it will always win over a sprint start. However, the slightly slower Thoroughbred has the stamina to run at their top speed for a much longer distance.

If you were to race the two breeds together, the Quarter Horse would quickly gain the lead over about a quarter of a mile. Over a longer race, the Thoroughbred would gain ground and take the advantage. For this reason, the two breeds are not normally raced against each other.


So, as we have learned, the Quarter horse is a speedy and agile breed of horse that is capable of some incredible top speeds. Over short distances, the Quarter Horse top speed is 55 miles per hour. They also have very quick reactions, meaning they can turn, start and stop quicker than the average horse.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about Quarter Horses – are you a fan of this popular breed of horse? Or perhaps you dream of racing one of these agile and speedy horses? Add a comment below and we’ll get back to you!