Thoroughbred vs Arabian: Differences & Questions Answered

Thoroughbred and Arabian are two of the most renowned breeds in the equine industry. They have proven their speed, strength, and intelligence a million times.

If you are planning to get a horse but confused about which of these two breeds to choose, you should probably compare them. Knowing them better will help you pick the one that will best suit your skills, preference, and goals.

Thoroughbred vs Arabian


When it comes to top racing breeds, there is no doubt that Thoroughbred is included in the list.

It carries the bloodlines of three Oriental stallions: Bark, Arabian, and Turkoman. It was officially registered as a horse breed in 1791.

Thoroughbred is very popular not just for racing, rather for cross-country, jumping, and dressage competitions as well. It is particularly trained for racing and jumping; the reason why it is named the “jumping racehorse”.


You simply cannot doubt the speed of a Thoroughbred. As proof, it holds the Guinness World Record as the fastest horse breed worldwide with a speed of 70.76 kilometers per hour.

On average, a Thoroughbred can run 40 miles per hour (64.37 kph). You will probably not be amazed knowing that this breed has dominated the horse racing industry.   


Some Thoroughbreds are growing quite tall over other horse breeds. They are ranging from 15 hands to 17 hands; that is 60 to 68 inches tall. On average, they can approximately be 16 hands or 64 inches in height.


When meeting a Thoroughbred for the first time, your attention will initially get caught by its large, expressive eyes.

Its body is athletically built; simply the proof that it will not fail you if you bet your money on it.

It is slim and standing proudly tall. It has distinctive long, oblique shoulders and a broad chest. It has a short back and thin skin.

It also has powerful legs with small hooves. Its back legs are long, augmenting the power of its every gallop.

Thoroughbred is commonly bay, black, chestnut, or grey.

Thoroughbreds always stand out in various equine disciplines as they possess the speed, athleticism, stamina, aptitude, courage, and eagerness to strive harder. These are the reasons why they are not just great at racing; they are likewise outstanding at jumping, dressage, and eventing.


Tracing back the oldest breeds, Arabian horses belong in the list as they are believed to be existing for more than 4,000 years. They originated from the Middle East and came to the United States in the 1700s. The Arabian Horse Registry of America was established in 1908.

Arabian horses have an extraordinary level of endurance since they are trained to withstand the intense heat and environment in desert places of their country origin. They are capable of conserving their energy, making long-distance runs more manageable for them.

With the calm and loyal personality of Arabian horses, they are used before in raising other breeds. Today, you can see lots of horse breeds that have Arabian blood in their clans.


Arabians are known as fast runners with great endurance.

On average, they can run 55 kilometers per hour. The fastest speed that an Arabian horse has recorded is roughly 65 kilometers per hour or 40 miles per hour.

When trotting and walking, an Arabian’s speed is 12 kilometers per hour and 6.5 kilometers per hour, respectively.


Arabian horses are not as tall as other riding breeds. Some of them may be thought of as ponies as their height may not reach the standard 14.2 hands or 58 inches to be considered as a horse. Regardless of some point differences, all Arabians are still recognized as horses.

Commonly, they could stand from 14 hands (56 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches). A typical Arabian horse would be around 15 hands or 60 inches.


Arabians are one of the most stunning horses. They have a small, distinctive concave head (dished) with a refined muzzle and a wide set of large eyes. Their necks are long and gracefully arched.

Their bodies are compact with short backs. They have a peculiar high tail carriage too. They have long silky tail hair and well-formed hooves.

Despite their smaller size, Arabians have great stamina and sharpness, making them stand out in sports that test endurance.

They are also great for long-distance trail competitions. They are a great choice for dressage tournaments as well because of their elegance.

Differences Between Thoroughbred and Arabian

A Thoroughbred and Arabian differ when it comes to skin, diet, temperament, and expertise.

The most visible difference between Thoroughbreds and Arabians is their physical attributes, of course. Thoroughbreds are taller and heavier, making them bigger and faster compared to Arabians. Likewise, the structures of their faces are not similar given their distinct features.

Physically, another difference is their skin.

Thoroughbreds have sensitive and thinner skin compared with other breeds.

One cause of this is the deficiency of fatty acids in the standard diet of a Thoroughbred today. With this skin type, it is important to be very careful and gentle when grooming to prevent skin inflammation and unwanted behaviors of a Thoroughbred.

As for Arabians, they have black skin regardless of the color of their coat.

Their skin is so thick as it acts as their protective shield against the burning rays of the sun in the desert. Their skin is suited to the environment of their origin country.

Thoroughbreds and Arabians have a slightly different diet from each other. They both need to consume the typical equine nutrition such as grass, grains, hay, fruits, vegetables, and supplements.

However, Thoroughbreds may require more food than Arabians because of their fast metabolism.

It is very opposite for Arabians as they may only need lesser food. Since their breed originates from desert places, where food is limited, their bodies are adapted to eat only in small amounts. Arabians today still need to consume food in moderation to maintain their compact size and weight.

Thoroughbreds and Arabians have differences in temperament too.

Thoroughbreds are known to be hot-blooded, making them remarkably competitive. They can usually give their maximum performance in every competition that makes them prone to accidents.

With their extreme power, spirit, and dynamic nature, Thoroughbreds are not the first choice for beginner riders. They should be handled by experienced owners and riders only.

Arabian horses are more people-oriented and well-tempered compared to Thoroughbreds. They are friendly and enjoy human companies. They are great with kids and get easily comfortable with them. They can adapt efficiently to a new environment.

As for expertise, Thoroughbreds are usually trained to race while Arabians are raised more for endurance tasks.

Below is a simple table showing the differences among Thoroughbreds and Arabian horses:

ThoroughbredHas sensitive, thin skin.Needs more food to maintain health since it has a fast metabolism.Hot-blooded; Not recommended for beginners; Too enthusiastic that it may sometimes get out of control.One of the greatest in running competitions.
Arabian HorseHas black, thick skin.Needs less food to maintain its size and health since its ancestors are used to food scarcity in the desert.Well-tempered, friendly, great with people especially with kids.Highly recommended for endurance riding.

Are Arabian Horses Faster Than Thoroughbreds?

No. Arabian horses are slower than Thoroughbreds.

With more than 300 breeds, Thoroughbreds and Arabians are on the top 5 fastest horses. However, among these two breeds, which is faster?

Thoroughbreds are extremely prominent in the racing industry. They are one of the breeds that regularly win competitions known for great speed, well-built body, and high enthusiasm.

Thoroughbreds’ fastest record time is 70.76 kilometers per hour.

Despite the smaller size of Arabians, they have proved their superb endurance and agility countless times. Their fastest record speed is 65 kilometers per hour, but not as fast as with Thoroughbred.

Which Horse Can Carry More – Thoroughbred or Arabian?

The Thoroughbred horses can carry more over Arabian horses.

No one can contend about the strength of horses. They are simply robust with great stamina and big bones that you might wonder how much weight they can carry.

Just like other creatures, horses are typical animals that have limitations too.

There are various factors to consider whether a specific horse can carry the load that you want. One thing that you need to take into account is your horse’s body weight. 

According to studies, horses can carry up to 20% of their body weight at maximum. If you would load your horse with 25% of its weight or even more, you will notice visible physical signs of tension such as faster breathing.

The 20% of a horse’s weight is the general rule in the United States. In the United Kingdom, a horse should only carry 10% of its weight.

Arabian horses can weigh from 800 to 1,000 pounds. It means they can carry from 160 to 200 pounds under the United States’ standard while only 80 to 100 pounds with the UK’s precept.

On the other hand, Thoroughbred horses can weigh from 1,000 to 1,200 pounds. Under the United States’ standard, they can carry 200 to 240 pounds and, with the UK’s rule, only 100 to 120 pounds.

As mentioned, body weight is just one of the factors. You must also think about your horse’s age, height, physical form, and health.

Which Horse Is Bigger – Thoroughbred or Arabian?

Thoroughbreds are bigger compared to Arabian horses.

Comparing an Arabian horse to other breeds, you can see the slight difference when height is concerned. Arabians are, actually, smaller than other horses. On average, they are 56 inches to 64 inches in height; that is 14 to 16 hands.

The general standard to be recognized as a horse is to meet the minimum height of 14.2 hands; otherwise, it will be a phony. Regardless, all Arabian horses are exempted from this as they are still considered horses.

When it comes to weight, they can be from 800 to 1,000 pounds.

As for Thoroughbreds, their height is between 15 hands (60 inches) to 17 hands (68 inches) in height. They weigh around 1,000 to 2,000 pounds.


Cldyson. (2015, February 26). Horse breeds. Animal Corner.

Nielsen, B. D., Turner, K. K., Ventura, B. A., Woodward, A. D., & O’Connor, C. I. (2006). Racing speeds of quarter horses, thoroughbreds and Arabians. Equine VeterinaryJjournal. Supplement, (36), 128–132.

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