How Far Can a Horse Travel in a Day?

Have you ever asked "how far can a horse travel in a day?" Maybe you've heard about endurance horses that can cover anywhere from 50 to 100 miles in a day, or wondered if a race horse can run for miles on end.

The short answer to the question is a walking horse can travel anywhere from 25 to 40 miles a day depending on terrain, weather, breaks, and access to water.

When you're looking to get your horse into condition for long trail rides, or want to prepare them for a beginner's endurance ride, get your gear from Equoware for the best product quality, reliability and durability. Here's what goes into your horse's ability to cover long distances:

Conditioning

You might want to have an impromptu trail ride after weeks of not riding, but don't go pulling your pasture potato out for a long walk on the trails just yet. Horses always maintain some level of fitness due to their need to forage for food and stay with a herd, but that conditioning is only sufficient for carrying a rider and going for more than a few miles.

Your horse needs to be tuned up with some preliminary work around the barn, in the arena, or walking along the fence line. Once both of you are warmed up, ask for a sustained trot for 10 minutes and add more time as your horse picks up strength and endurance.

Conditioning your horse at the walk and trot helps her build the muscle she needs for the most commonly used gaits on trails. Expect a horse in average condition to cover four miles an hour at the walk and eight to 12 miles an hour at the trot.

Weather Conditions

Most horse breeds perform best in moderate temperatures. Arabians originate from a desert climate which predisposes them to function well in high temps, but individual equines from all breeds can outperform each other in any weather.

Part of a horse's ability to travel long distances is their ability to shed heat while carrying a rider. Use your best judgement when looking to take a long ride in hot weather.

A horse that doesn't do well in hot weather as a general rule is going to have a difficult time with a long ride, but can perform well when the weather is cooler. 

Footing and Terrain Conditions

A horse travels the farthest on flat terrain and packed footing. The risk of strain is minimal, and the horse has to put in the least amount of effort into their locomotion.

You'll get the most distance out of a horse on favorable footing and terrain. Hilly terrain and inclines are going to cause your horse to put in more effort to get to the top or bottom, and can shorten the distance they can travel.

Footing that is rocky, muddy, sandy, or soft can also make it harder on your horse to go a long distance due to the extra strain on their legs and cardiovascular system. 

Take Breaks

A horse can travel more distance if it's given the opportunity to rest and graze a bit during the ride. Keep an eye on your horse for signs of light fatigue and make it a point to stop somewhere where she can graze and get water.

Carry a sponge or rag and get it wet so you can wipe your horse down and let them cool off. Let your horse rest for at least 15 minutes before heading on to your next destination.