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Thursday, November 6, 2008

How Long and How Far Can Horses Run?

“I was watching a western and in it the horses seemed able to run a long time. How far or how long can horses actually run in a day?” The first place the Newton Falls Public Library staff checked was in the library’s collection of horse books. Both Horses for Dummies by Audrey Pavia and The Complete Horse Book had sections about endurance racing. In this type of competition, the horse and rider attempt to cover a set number of miles in the shortest time. Most consist of 50 – 100 mile per day rides, or multi-day rides covering 50 miles a day over four to six days. A special endurance saddle is used as the rider has to spend long periods of time sitting on it. According to The Encyclopedia of the Horse by Elwyn Hartley Edwards [p.356], in 1919 “the United States Cavalry conducted endurance tests to assess the quality of . . . horses as remounts.” They had to cover 300 miles in 5 days, while carrying 200-245 pounds.

Searching online for farthest running horse brings up a website [] which includes an article written by Anthony Amaral in Western Horseman Magazine [1969],“Frank Hopkins. . . Best of Endurance Riders?” Frank Hopkins rode in approximately 400 endurance races including in 1890 a 3,000 mile one in Arabia on the western mustang, Hidalgo, against Arabian desert horses. In the “Brains Plus Endurance" by Charles B. Roth [The Horse–Official Journal of the U.S. Remount Service 1935], Hopkins is quoted saying he once rode a horse 124 miles in 20 hours. Today there are very strict rules and training guidelines for those wishing to participate in endurance riding. Depending on the event, qualifying rides may be required, as well as mandatory stops for veterinary checks of the animals. More information can be learned about the classic races in The Complete Horse Book and the Equiworld website [].

One of the most memorable uses of endurance running by men was the Pony Express. From April 1860 to October 1861, the riders carried mail from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. In Stagecoaches and the Pony Express by Sally Senzell Isaacs, the horses usually only ran 10 miles at a time, while riders rode about 75 miles before passing on the saddlebag.

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