Horse Power - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 13 Old 11-28-2012, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
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Horse Power

Hello everyone! I could use some help with a physics problem.

I'm trying to figure out how to calculate the actual horsepower of a horse.

For example, if you knew how fast a horse runs and it's frontal area, could you quantify how much power that horse has like a car?

Or for working horses, can you use performance data to calculate how powerful a horse is relative to another for doing work? Has anyone done this?
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post #2 of 13 Old 11-28-2012, 12:57 PM
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I love the way your mind works. Beautiful question and pursuit. I will ask my physics teacher :)

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post #3 of 13 Old 11-28-2012, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by NorthernDancer View Post
For example, if you knew how fast a horse runs and it's frontal area, could you quantify how much power that horse has like a car?
No, because the air resistance isn't the limiting factor, it's how fast the horse can move its limbs. If it could apply the same power in a more efficient way, it could go faster. Think of how much faster you can go riding a bike than running, even though you're producing the same power.


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Or for working horses, can you use performance data to calculate how powerful a horse is relative to another for doing work? Has anyone done this?
Sure, that's how Watt (or whoever it was) came up with the definition of horsepower, back in the 1700s or whenever. The standard introductory physics texts all seem to have an illustration of a horse lifting a weight up a cliff. Today you'd probably use a treadmill or similar if you were being scientific, or measure oxygen consumption and convert that. Or just look at draft horse weight-pulling contests.
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post #4 of 13 Old 11-28-2012, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the replies!

James, what would you consider to be the best predictor of a horse's speed, if not power?
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-28-2012, 01:55 PM
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Love this, subbing to see other answers. What a cool concept to think about!

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post #6 of 13 Old 11-28-2012, 02:00 PM
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isnt horse power in cars and trucks already done that. ?? Caculate how many horses it takes for a engine. 350 horse power is..well 350 horses..lol.. just wondering
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post #7 of 13 Old 11-28-2012, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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isnt horse power in cars and trucks already done that. ?? Caculate how many horses it takes for a engine. 350 horse power is..well 350 horses..lol.. just wondering
Yeah but specifically I'm trying to do the same with the actual horse. Power and weight (and gearing, for top speed) are the best predictors of a car's acceleration and speed. If you want to buy a fast car, these are the only numbers you need to know.

This is the same iaauen translated to horses. If someone wanted to buy the fastest horse they could afford, what would you use as a metric in making your selection. We know that genetics isn't a great predictor - how many od Secretariat's children won a triple crown race?
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post #8 of 13 Old 11-28-2012, 02:10 PM
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Welcome Northern Dancer
Nice to meet you

Country Woman

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post #9 of 13 Old 11-28-2012, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Country Woman! Nice to meet you too!
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post #10 of 13 Old 11-28-2012, 02:19 PM
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Do you have any horses?

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