I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “It is a day’s ride away.” But what exactly does that mean? How far can a horse travel in a day? The truth is, no one answer is correct. In this article, we learn about several factors that can affect the answer to how far a horse can travel in a day.
Horse Ownership has Changed in the Last 100 Years
We rely on the fitness of our cars to get us around today. Therefore, we schedule regular maintenance like oil changes, fluid checks, and tire rotation, etc. Just over one hundred years ago, horses were the primary source of transportation. A horse was considered a tool that needed the best care, maintenance, and fitness. Every farmer understood the necessity of good equine health and conditioning, just like today’s mechanics understand the requirements for keeping vehicles running correctly. Consequently, the average horse in the past was conditioned to travel farther than today’s average horse.
One Day Trip vs. Consecutive Days Trip
Years ago, as well as today, riders needed to take into consideration how many days the trip would take. On average, a healthy horse can travel anywhere from 25 to 35 miles a day. This distance needs to be at a slower pace and with breaks for water. However, asking a horse to keep up this pace for several consecutive days can lead to health problems.
Breeding vs. Backyard Horse vs. Seasoned Equine Athlete
The majority of horses fall into one of these three categories.
- “breeder’s herd.”
These are the horses that are in selective breeding programs to facilitate desired breed characteristics. These horses travel only short distances, usually within their pastures. The tolls of raising foals year after year can have an adverse effect on how far a broad mare can travel. It would take some conditioning to build up to 25 miles in a day.
- The backyard horse.
These horses are the ones that fall into the position of a family member or pet. When asked about how horse ownership has changed in the last 100 years Robert Hilsenroth, DVM, executive director of Morris Animal Foundation, had this to say, “Horses were coming away from the farms, being boarded, and becoming pets. Their value changed from one of horsepower to one of love or companion power.”