If you’re thinking about trail riding or taking your horse on a leisurely ride, you might wonder just how far they can travel in the space of a day.
Horses are resilient animals that can travel long distances in a day when necessary. However, their actual range of travel is usually only 20 to 50 miles per day. Some breeds can travel considerably more but, even they cannot travel more than 70 or 80 miles per day without a rest period.
A lot of factors will determine how far your horse will be able to travel in a day. Some of these factors include:
- The fitness and condition of your horse.
- The speed you plan on traveling.
- Weather conditions.
- The age of your horse.
- Your physical condition.
- The terrain.
We will talk about some of the things you need to keep in mind before embarking on endurance riding, trail riding, or just a normal long ride.
How fast are you planning on going?
Evidently, the pace you choose will greatly determine just how far a horse will be able to cover in a day.
Normally, a horse will be able to walk close to four miles an hour. Trotting will cover approximately eight to twelve miles while a horse will be able to go twelve to fifteen miles in an hour at a canter. However, a galloping horse can be able to cover 25 or even 30 miles in an hour.
If the distance is a lengthy one, you naturally will not maintain the same speed for the entire journey. This will be very tiring for yourself and your horse – even if your horse is walking.
On a general note, if a horse is walking, it will be comfortable doing just this for approximately eight hours. What this means is that in a day of eight hours, your horse will be able to cover close to 32 miles while walking.
How does the trail look like?
The intended terrain is an incredibly important consideration to determine just how far the horse will be able to cover in a day. With muddy weather, the journey will definitely be slowed down as it will be more difficult for the horse. Also, walking on the sandy ground will be hard on the tendons and ligaments of your horse.
In the event that you have to climb steep hills, both you and the horse will undoubtedly become tired. In addition to this, having to climb up and down a hill will take its toll on the cardiovascular system of your horse.
Your horse might also suffer injuries to the hooves and joints if they navigate rocky and hard terrains. This discomfort will also be felt by you on the saddle. That’s why it is imperative that you try not to pass through rocky areas.
How about the weather?
This is another essential factor in long journeys. This is because the horse may end up losing so many electrolytes and hydration through sweat. Horses, just like people, may suffer heat stroke or other health challenges when they’re dehydrated or their electrolyte level is depleted.
You should make sure that you make regular stops if the weather is very hot.
Make sure that your horse has the freedom to take water during the journey. If it’s an extremely hot day then ensure that you add electrolytes. You can do this by just putting an electrolyte supplement in the water or pouring Gatorade in the water.
During a hot but windy day with low humidity, your horse might sweat a lot, but because of the wind, the sweat may quickly evaporate. This might be very misleading and you’d think your horse isn’t sweating a lot. That’s why you need to monitor them at intervals to know their condition.
How often do you recharge?
Normally, during hot weather, you ought to ensure that your horse has enough to drink as well as enough electrolytes to be in good condition. This should also apply to you.
Each time you embark on a long journey, try to make period stops so that your horse will be able to graze and drink water.
You should be concerned if your horse refuses to drink or loses its appetite altogether. Any of these signs might prove that your horse has become exhausted or even worse. These signs should tell you that you have to stop riding the horse.
The fitness of you and your horse
If you only go on occasional rides with your horse, you naturally will not be comfortable enough to go on a long ride with them. Your horse will start to tire and you will become quite sore.
However, if you regularly take rides with your horse, you will likely be able to cover more ground in a day. One sure way to achieve this is if trotting, centering, and walking are alternated.
The level of training you and your horse have undergone is really the main factor that will determine just how far you will be able to go in a day.
It is absolutely important that you don’t embark on a long journey with a horse in poor condition. If you plan on long rides, you have to ensure that you and your horse are in top shape to endure throughout the trip.
When embarking on a trail ride, the relationship between you and your horse is very important. You should be able to recognize when your horse is starting to get tired. Make sure that they don’t over-exert themselves. This is because tired horses, just like human beings, can become less focused which can lead to accidents.
How about equipment?
The performance of your horse can be adversely affected if you have the wrong equipment with you. This can also cause you discomfort and even lead to your horse getting injured. Ensure that your bridle and saddle are well fitted and are also in proper condition before you begin the long ride.
It is also important to consider the condition of the hooves of your horse.
It is advisable that your horse visits a farrier for an examination and trim once every two months. If you plan on going for trail rides, it is definitely a good idea to get horse boots that have been well-fitted to ensure your horse’s soles and hoof walls are protected.