From this tweet: "If Henry Ford listened to customers, they would've said faster horses. He didnt & now theres no awesome race of super horses"

Suppose Henry Ford did listen to his customers and created a race of faster horses that were able to reach the same speed as our real-world cars. I'm assuming that these sort of horses would end up serving as real-world cars, and that it will just . But our real-world cars needed a bunch of safety features to keep us safe driving in a metallic can at 60 miles per hour. What type of safety features are needed to keep us safe when riding a horse traveling 60 mile per hour?

  • $\begingroup$ How exactly do these super horses differ from motorcycles? $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Mar 19, 2016 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ Instead of fueling up your motorcycle with oil, you have to feed the horses with hay. I think that's really the main difference. I also suspect that it takes longer to raise a horse than it is to build a motorcycle. $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2016 at 3:21
  • $\begingroup$ Also motorcycles don't reproduce themselves if left to their own devices. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2021 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


Horses habitually running at 60 mph over long distances is a highly implausible scenario. Here is why.

Stamina versus Speed

You are mixing up two things in your mind: stamina and speed. Living things don't work like machines. They can exert a lot of force for some time (max speed) and some force for a lot of time (stamina).

The fastest speed attained by any land animal is that of a cheetah's which runs at 60 mph. According to Guinness Book Of World Records, the speed record of a horse is: The highest race speed recorded over two furlongs is 70.76 km/h (43.97 mph) and was achieved by Winning Brew trained by Francis Vitale (United States), at the Penn National Race Course, Grantville, Pennsylvania, United States, on 14 May 2008.

I don't say that it is the maximum output possible by the biological constraints of a horse's body, but it is certainly close. Take for example the case of weight. Cheetahs have a weight range of 35-65 kg (National Geographic). On the contrary weigh between 380 and 990 kg (Horse - Wikipedia).

Which means that a horse is at least 5 times as massive as a cheetah. The speeds you mentioned in your question (60 mph) are for a sprinting cheetah. The cheetah can maintain these speeds for several hundred meters before slowing down. A horse would have much lesser stamina than that (as hinted in the world record mentioned above).

Only few horses would be able to achieve the speed of even 50 mph. And that too, would be not for more than 400 meters or so. We are talking about ace horses here, trained by the best trainers available.

So no. Even if Henry Ford had invested in faster horses, they would only be able to run at around 50 mph (the very best) for short distances (around 400 meters). No need for much protective gear I guess.

Probable Safety Gear

The most fuss you could make about safety gear for horse riders would be the same which motorcyclists use. Motorcyclists resemble horse riders in the way that they sit atop their ride and the ride is not enclosed on the sides. However motorcycles are dumb machines (as opposed to smart horses) and they are two wheeled (as opposed to four legs) and racing motorcycles run at much faster speeds than race horses. The protective gear which motorcyclists wear should easily do for horse riders too.

That would include a helmet (obvious) and limb protection (against scratches).

Also Keep In Mind

... that horses have metallic horseshoes. Which means that running on man-made roads would lead to a lot of accidents (slipping, as horses hooves would not get enough grip/friction on the roads). You would want to run your horses on dirt roads. And if you are a millionaire, you might want to build rubber tracks for providing extra friction to your prized horses.

  • $\begingroup$ If you can breed a horse that runs at 60mph, you can certainly also breed it with tougher feet so that it doesn't need horseshoes. Lots of horses (e.g. my two) don't wear shoes right now, although of course they would need to if they were regularly running long distances on paved roads. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Scott
    Mar 19, 2016 at 6:11
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, a horse owner! Maybe you can convince OP that it is extremely implausible to breed a race of horses that can achieve and keep 60 mph for extended distances? And I think (haven't researched in detail) that sturdy-footed horses wouldn't be able to run as fast. Foot structure (along with many other variables) is vital to speed. For higher speeds, you want a very lightweight (which makes it more delicate too) foot/paw/hoof. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2016 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ He's not actually planning on doing that, probeably. Not every story has to be science fiction with the hardness of stone. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2016 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ Part of the premise of the answer was that it just would happen. There's no hard science tag, and no need to "convince" the OP here's wrong. It's a story, "wrong" is not a word in our vocabulary. Sufficient quantities of unobtanium will create numerous speedy horses. $\endgroup$
    – DonyorM
    Mar 20, 2016 at 10:37

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