55 MPH is the top speed of the world’s fastest horses. Quarter horses racing 440-yard have been timed running 55 mph, the fastest recorded speed of any horse. Guinness World Record recognizes Winning Brew, a Thoroughbred, as the fastest horse in the world at 43.97 mph.
How horses evolved into animals that can reach speeds of 55 MPH takes a body designed for the task. Quick Links If you’re interested in checking out some racehorse art or other memorabilia, you can find them by clicking here.
The anatomy of movement in horses can be divided into two parts, the skeleton, and the muscles. Groups of muscle work together to propel a horse forward when they are running.
If the muscle groups are correctly proportioned, they perform their tasks well, and a horse runs fast. Average in all aspects of a horse’s conformation makes the ideal running specimen.
Eclipse, a thoroughbred from the 18th century, is thought of as the greatest racehorse in history. Researchers studied Eclipse’s skeleton and built a computer model to recreate his movements while running.
Eighty percent of the time a horse is running, his legs are off the ground. But the most obvious is the great Sea biscuit, at only 15 hands dominated the racing circuit in the late 30s and early 40s.
And more recently, the Canadian champion Northern Dancer was also a small horse. However, thoroughbreds are required to maintain their stride over a longer distance and time during a race.
To be able to run the necessary intervals in a race with the speed needed to be successful, their anatomical systems must be in sync. A horse can provide this need during a race by in taking air when they extend their bodies.
With their frame stretched, they draw in large amounts of air through their nose, and as they constrict their bodies, they exhale. The circulation increases the amount of oxygen-rich cells in the bloodstream, providing oxygen to the horse.
Another relevant term used when referencing a horse speed is its stride angle. Many horse racing and speed analysis students believe stride angle is an essential factor in determining the success of a racehorse.
Airflow, strong heart, excellent muscle tone, and a solid frame are the keys to speed. Quarter horses have been clocked running 55mph, the fastest rates of any horse breed.
Quarter horse racing started in colonial America for over 200 years ago. The breed was named after the usual distance they raced, a quarter of a mile.
The All-American Futurity has the largest purse in quarter horse racing at 3 million dollars. The Guinness Book of Records lists the top speed ran by a thoroughbred at 43.97 mph.
For comparison, the average Kentucky Derby winner typically runs about 37 mph. Thoroughbreds are built to run a longer distance race than a Quarter horse.
Arabians are slower than Quarter horses and Thoroughbreds but are durable and would fare well in an endurance race. Paints are fast horses, and the good runners have lots of quarter horse breeding in the pedigree.
The Paint horse breed combines conformation traits of quarter horse and pinto spotting pattern. Appaloosa horse racing is held at tracks across the Western United States.
Appaloosas were used by Native American tribes in the northwestern United States. Other names Quarter HorseCountry of originated StatesTraitsDistinguishing featuresGreat speed over short distances; short, refined head; strong, well-muscled body, featuring a broad chest and powerful, rounded hindquartersBreed standards American Quarter Horse, or Quarter Horse, is an American breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances.
Its name is derived from its ability to outrun other horse breeds in races of a quarter mile or less; some have been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph (88.5 km/h). The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with almost 3 million living American QuarterHorses registered in 2014.
The compact body of the American Quarter Horse is well-suited for the intricate and quick maneuvers required in reining, cutting, working cow horse, barrel racing, calf roping, and other western riding events, especially those involving live cattle. The American Quarter Horse is also used in English disciplines, driving, show jumping, dressage, hunting, and many other equestrian activities.
In the 1600s on the Eastern seaboard of what today is the United States began to breed imported English Thoroughbred horses with assorted “native” horses. One of the most famous of these early imports was Janus, a Thoroughbred who was the grandson of the Go dolphin Arabian.
The influence of Thoroughbreds likes Janus contributed genes crucial to the development of the colonial Quarter Horse”. As flat racing became popular with the colonists, the Quarter Horse gained even more popularity as a sprinter over courses that, by necessity, were shorter than the classic racecourses of England.
These courses were often no more than a straight stretch of road or flat piece of open land. As the Thoroughbred breed became established in America, many colonial QuarterHorses were included in the original American stud books.
This began a long association between the Thoroughbred breed and what would later become officially known as the Quarter Horse”, named after the 1 4 mile (0.40 km) race distance at which it excelled. In the 19th century, pioneers heading West needed a hardy, willing horse.
On the Great Plains, settlers encountered horses that descended from the Spanish stock Hernán Cortés and other Conquistadors had introduced into the viceroyalty of New Spain, which today includes the Southwestern United States and Mexico. The horses of the West included herds of feral animals known as Mustangs, as well as horses domesticated by Native Americans, including the Comanche, Shoshone and New Peace tribes.
Another early foundation sire for the breed was , foaled in 1828, who tracks his lineage through the Barley Turk, a foundation sire of the Thoroughbred horse breed. The main duty of the ranch horse in the American West was working cattle.
Even after the invention of the automobile, horses were still irreplaceable for handling livestock on the range. The skills required by cowboys and their horses became the foundation of the rodeo, a contest which began with informal competition between cowboys and expanded to become a major competitive event throughout the west.
To this day, the Quarter Horse dominates in events that require speed as well as the ability to handle cattle. As a result, more Thoroughbred blood was added into the developing American Quarter Horse breed.
The American Quarter Horse also benefited from the addition of Arabian, Morgan, and even Standard bred bloodlines. In 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association (Aqua) was formed by a group of horsemen and ranchers from the Southwestern United States dedicated to preserving the pedigrees of their ranch horses.
After winning the 1941 Fort Worth Exposition and Fat Stock Show grand champion stallion, the horse honored with the first registration number, P-1, was Wimpy, a descendant of the King Ranch foundation sire Old Sorrel. Other sires alive at the founding of the Aqua were given the earliest registration numbers Joe Reed P-3, Chief P-5, Oklahoma Star P-6, Cowboy P-12, and Wagoner's Rainy Day P-13.
The Thoroughbred race horse Three Bars, alive in the early years of the Aqua, is recognized by the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame as one of the significant foundation sires for the Quarter Horse breed. Other significant Thoroughbred sires seen in early Aqua pedigrees include Rocket Bar, Top Deck and Depth Charge.
Since the American Quarter Horse was formally established as a breed, the Aqua stud book has remained open to additional Thoroughbred bloods via a performance standard. The resulting offspring is registered in the “appendix” of the American Quarter Horse Association's studbook, hence the nickname.
Horses listed in the appendix may be entered in competition, but offspring are not initially eligible for full Aqua registration. If the Appendix horse meets certain conformation criteria and is shown or raced successfully in sanctioned Aqua events, the horse can earn its way from the appendix into the permanent studbook, making its offspring eligible for Aqua registration.
Since Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred crosses continue to enter the official registry of the American Quarter Horse breed, this creates a continual gene flow from the Thoroughbred breed into the American Quarter Horse breed, which has altered many of the characteristics that typified the breed in the early years of its formation. Some breeders argue that the continued addition of Thoroughbred bloodlines are beginning to compromise the integrity of the breed standard.
Some favor the earlier style of horse and have created several organizations to promote and register “Foundation” QuarterHorses. European nations such as Germany and Italy have imported large numbers of QuarterHorses.
The British American Quarter Horse breed society is the AQHA-UK. With the internationalization of the discipline of reining and its acceptance as one of the official seven events of the World Equestrian Games, there is a growing international interest in QuarterHorses.
The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with nearly 3 million American QuarterHorses registered worldwide in 2014. A halter-type Quarter Horseshoe Quarter Horse has a small, short, refined head with a straight profile, and a strong, well-muscled body, featuring a broad chest and powerful, rounded hindquarters.
They usually stand between 14 and 16 hands (56 and 64 inches, 142 and 163 cm) high, although some Halter-type and English hunter-type horses may grow as tall as 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm). The stock horse type is shorter, more compact, stocky and well-muscled, yet agile.
Other recognized colors include bay, black, brown, buckskin, palomino, gray, dun, red dun, grille (also occasionally referred to as blue dun), red roan, blue roan, bay roan, per lino, cello, and white. In the past, spotted color patterns were excluded, but now with the advent of DNA testing to verify parentage, the registry accepts all colors as long as both parents are registered.
Horses shown in-hand in Halter competition are larger yet, with a very heavily muscled appearance, while retaining small heads with wide jowls and refined muzzles. There is controversy amongst owners, breeder and veterinarians regarding the health effects of the extreme muscle mass that is currently fashionable in the specialized halter horse, which typically is 15.2 to 16 hands (62 to 64 inches, 157 to 163 cm) and weighs in at over 1,200 pounds (540 kg) when fitted for halter competition.
Not only are there concerns about the weight to frame ratio on the horse's skeletal system, but the massive build is also linked to hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (Hype) in descendants of the stallion Impressive (see Genetic diseases below). The show hunter type is slimmer, even more closely resembling a Thoroughbred, usually reflecting a higher percentage of appendix breeding.
There are several genetic diseases of concern to Quarter Horse breeders: Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (Hype), which is caused by an autosomal dominant gene linked to the stallion Impressive.
Since 2007, the Aqua bars registration of horses who possess the homozygous form (H/H) of the gene, and though heterozygous (H/N) horses are still eligible for registration, altering that status is currently being discussed. Additionally, all Quarter Horses born 2007 or later that are confirmed to be descendants of Impressive must carry a note about the risks of Hype on their registration papers.
Due to Hype, the halter classes are undergoing significant changes. Impressive, a very prolific halter horse, brought to the stock breeds the muscle mass that is popular in halter competition today.
This muscle mass is linked to Hype, and as the condition is reduced within the breed, the style of horse in halter classes is also likely to change. Already there have been rule changes, including the creation of a “Performance Halter class” in which a horse must possess a Register of Merit in performance or racing before it can compete.
A causative mutated allele, anodyne receptor 1 gene (RyR1) at nucleotide C7360G, generating a R2454G amino acid substitution. has been identified in the American Quarter Horse and breeds with Quarter Horse ancestry, inherited as an autosomal dominant It can be caused by overwork, anesthesia, or stress.
Hereditary Equine Regional Dermal Athenian (Herd), also known as hyperkeratosis cuts (HC). When a horse has this disease, there is a collagen defect that results in the layers of skin not being held firmly together.
Thus, when the horse is ridden under saddle or suffers trauma to the skin, the outer layer often splits or separates from the deeper layer, or it can tear off completely. Most horses with Herd are euthanized for humane reasons between the age of two and four years.
The very hotly debated and controversial theory, put forth by researchers at Cornell University and Mississippi State University is that the sire line of the great foundation stallion Polo Buena is implicated as the origin of the disease. As of May 9, 2007, Researchers working independently at Cornell University and at the University of California, Davis announced that a DNA test for Herd has been developed.
Glycogen Branching Enzyme Deficiency (Bed) is a genetic disease where the horse is lacking an enzyme necessary for storing glycogen, the horse's heart muscle and skeletal muscles cannot function, leading to rapid death. The disease occurs in foals who are homozygous for the lethal Bed allele, meaning both parents carry one copy of the gene.
Equine polysaccharide storage myopathy, also called EPSM or PSM, is a metabolic muscular condition in horses that causes tying up, and is also related to a glycogen storage disorder. While also seen in some draft horse breeds, PSM has been traced to three specific but undisclosed bloodlines in Quarter Horses, with an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern.
48% of Quarter Horses with symptoms of neuromuscular disease have PSM. To some extent it can be diet controlled with specialized low-starch diets, but genetic testing is advised before breeding, as the condition exists at a subclinical level in approximately 6% of the general Quarter Horse population.
Although dropout Quarter Horses with Paint markings were not allowed to be registered for many years, the gene for such markings is a recessive and continued to periodically appear in Quarter Horse foals. Thus, it is believed that some Quarter Horses may carry the gene for Lethal White Syndrome.
Cleft Palate Birth defect, this is not just a genetic disorder. It can be caused from genetics, hormones, mineral deficiency, tranquilizers, or steroids.
The surgery to repair the cleft palate does not have a high success rate. Some observations of a horse with a cleft palate and no surgery are: lifting head high when eating, dropping head low to drink, coughing when beginning of exercise, and placing workers or other oral medications in the side of the jaw and taking about hour to administer full dose.
4–8 ^ Reinhardt Quarter Running Horse pp. ^ Dotson, Judith (2012), Story's Illustrated Guide to 96 Horse Breeds of North America, Story Publishing, p. 64, ISBN 9781603429184 ^ Iowa Quarter Horse Racing Association.
Lost Bloodline ^ Sir Arch ^ History of the Quarter Horse ^ Down, Ryan; Cohen, Noah D; Sawyer, Jason; Affair, Cousin; Johnson, Charlie D; Din dot, Scott V (2012). “Whole-Genome sequencing and genetic variant analysis of a quarter Horse mare”.
International Museum of the Horse- Horse Breeds of the World. ^ American Quarter Horse Association Combined Stud Book 1-2-3-4-5 p. 1 ^ “Three Bars (TB)” (PDF).
^ Wiggins Great American Speed horse p. 166 ^ “Documents and Forms”. ^ National Foundation Quarter Horse Association.
Adams and Sasha's Lameness in Horses (6th ed.). “Malignant Hyperthermia Associated with Anodyne Receptor 1 (C7360G) Mutation in Quarter Horses ".
^ Lens, Tom R. “Heritable Diseases of the American Quarter Horse and Their Management” (PDF). Val berg SJ, Michelson JR, Gallant EM, Maclean JM, Lent L, DE la Core F (1999).
“Exertional rhabdomyolysis in quarter horses and thoroughbreds: one syndrome, multiple etiologies”. ^ “Herd: DNA Tests Available for Disfiguring Skin Disease”.
^ Val berg et al., Exertional rhabdomyolysis in quarter horses and thoroughbreds “, Equine Vet Journal Supplement, pp. Purdue University, Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab.
“Clinical characteristics of horses and foals diagnosed with cleft palate in a referral population: 28 cases (1988–2011)”. “Surgical cleft soft palate repair in a foal”.
“Herd: DNA Tests Available for Disfiguring Skin Disease”. Val berg SJ, Michelson JR, Gallant EM, Maclean JM, Lent L, DE la Core F (July 1999).
“Exertional rhabdomyolysis in quarter horses and thoroughbreds: one syndrome, multiple etiologies”. The Great American Speed horse: A Guide to Quarter Racing.