How Fast Do Horses Walk?

Jessica McDaniel
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How Fast Do Horses Walk: Horse Gaits


There are three normal gaits a horse can exhibit: a walk, a trot and canter. They each make up one of the four commonly referred gaits in the horse world. Within each of these gaits, there are variations to reduce the overall stress load on a horse’s limbs and joints while on the go.

The walk is a four beat gait, meaning the horse’s legs move the same way each time with four footfalls per stride. There are many variations to the walk that determine the speed and load bearing capacity of the horse. A horse that has not been trained for a certain speed of the walk would have a speed of the walk of about 4 – 5 miles per hour.

The trot is a two beat gait, meaning only two footfalls occur with each stride. It is usually quicker than the walk and can also carry a greater load when the horse is conditioned appropriately. A comfortable trot is usually between 8-12 miles per hour.

The canter, also a two beat gait, involves the horse getting on the forehand and the rear leg then landing. The canter can be a very uncomfortable gait for a horse unless it has been specifically trained for speed. There is also canter faster than a standard canter, called the flying or running walk and is not a comfortable speed for the horse and should be trained carefully.

How Fast Do Horses Walk: Walking Speed

A horse's walking speed depends on its size and fitness level and ranges between 3 and 20 miles per hour. However, when trotting, a horse can travel over 25 miles per hour.

Human walking speed is about 2 miles per hour. Horse's speed is the fastest among all mammals.

How Fast Do Horses Walk: Walking Speed of Humans

A horse rarely walks at a pace of less than two meters per second. In fact, when walking, a horse uses the same speed it uses when trotting. The horse's trot is often referred to as the horse's natural gait, a natural, intermediate speed between a walk and a gallop.

Because a horse often has only four feet on the ground at one time, a walk is usually referred to as a 'broken gait' — because they are still in motion and using their legs, but in a fluid motion. The two most common gaits in horses are a walk and a trot. A trot is generally faster than a walk and also uses the hind legs to propel the horse forward.

While the walk is slower than the trot or gallop, when you walk you are on your feet moving. While a horse may be able to walk faster, because it's four feet don't contact the ground at any given instant in time, the horse's natural speed is a trot. When you consider that a horse is only really using two feet at a time, the fastest walk is equal to the speed of a human jogger, which is 6 miles per hour.

Speeds of Other Horse Gaits

Besides the walk, horses can also perform four other basic gaits, all on one or two legs. The other gaits are:

Gallop – (AKA the run) – using the two legs on the same side of the body to move forward.

Canter – (AKA the trot) – moving in a series of steps, forward on one side, then the other, with a "flying" movement, where the legs on one side move forward together and then bring up the rear side hoof.

Trot – the same as the canter, but with bigger, longer steps, and the feet land on the opposite side in unison.

Stride – (AKA the pace) – moving on both legs in unison on one side followed by the same for the other side.

Horses can can also be more descriptive as follows:

One-beat – a very relaxed, slow trot with almost no movement above the hocks.

Two-beat – the trotting of a riding horse, with a foxtrot-like lift of the legs, using mostly the back half of the horse's body.

Three-beat – A limited, fast trot, mainly in Europe in exhibition horses and some breeds.


Horses are large mammals, so they require massive amounts of food on a daily basis. Their diet is made up of many different types of food as well to ensure that they are getting the most out of their meals as they can.

When a horse is given the proper nutrition and care, their growth, development, and athletic ability can be greatly influenced. Horses are not only used for riding and racing, but they are also used for work, and in various parts of the world, their meat is also consumed locally.

As you can read in this article, horses can walk at an average of 4 to 7 miles per hour, when they are travelling on flat ground and at a trot on average about 8 to 13 miles per hour.

Synonyms: Impala, African antelope, African stag, and Common Impala

Lifespan: 15 to 20 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity under ideal conditions.

Gestation Period: 264 to 272 days (about 9 months)

Number of young: Usually 1 but up to 3

Size: 100-120cm and 75-180kg

Did you know? The impala is a very social animal. Several males may live with a single female in small, year-round herds.