Many of us know that a horsepower (hp) is a unit used to measure power or is the rate of which work is done. But it makes me wonder for the love of horses, why this unit of measurement was called a horsepower in the first place?


Dating back with history, horses are known to mainly function as helper animals in transporting goods and mostly aid in traveling the fastest way in early age. This is because horses are naturally inborn with the strength, agility, speed, and endurance that other domesticated animals could never have. The horses with this ability became an icon for power as they are able to sustain long hours of hard and heavy work despite having wept to have them move faster. Imagine how much stress these horses on labor have to suffer before yet they manage to survive and remain strong.

With this observation, early mathematicians and scientists have used horses to help them calculate the rate of work done at a specified time. This was termed as horse engine whereby a thread mill is attached to a horse and the horse is then commanded to walk around a path and get the work, particularly in agriculture to speed up and meet the demands of supplies needed. This form of machinery using one or two horses at a time is very common in the 18th century before internal combustion engine was ever developed.

                             The first machines powered by horse engines to function includes grain grinders, feed cutters, corn shellers, threshing machines, silo blowers, pumps, and saws like bucksaws and lumber mill saws. I could just imagine how hungry the population of our ancestors was if there were no horses to help them around every farming chores before. Horses were indeed are a great contribution to make human works easier and faster. With their presence in the earliest civilization and with today’s advancements in technology, horses are proven to be great partners of humankind towards the success of the inventions and developments of our high tech machines that we have today and the future.

In 1702, Thomas Savery wrote in the Miner’s Friend;

So that an engine which will raise as much water as two horses, working together at one time in such a work, can do, and for which there must be constantly kept ten or twelve horses for doing the same. Then I say, such an engine may be made large enough to do the work required in employing eight, ten, fifteen, or twenty horses to be constantly maintained and kept for doing such a work…”

This idea was then used by James Watt to promote his business and sell his steam engine machine. A common legend claims that the unit of measurement was created when one of Watt’s first customers, a brewer, specifically demanded an engine that would equal a horse, and watt was asked to choose the strongest horse he had and have it work to the limit. Watt, being in business, accepted the brewer’s challenge and built a machine that was actually even performing more than the actual work output achieved by the brewer, and it was the output of that machine which became the horsepower.

By then, as James Watt was the first to have used horsepower in his business, this unit of measurement for power was later on accepted to the International Unit of Measurement (SI Units) to Watts with the (W) as it’s symbol. And with further study, 1 HP was then given an equivalent of 745.7 Watts.


                             Many terminologies are associated with horsepower being one of the earliest models of measuring power or the rate of a machine’s productivity. There’s mechanical horsepower, metric horsepower, electrical horsepower, Boiler horsepower, hydraulic horsepower, and air horsepower.

                             All of these horsepower definitions use the unit of measurement, horsepower (HP) with equivalent values in Watts that differs from each other. Conversion of horsepower to kw or Kilowatt and other larger or smaller units can also be done following the right mathematical formula.

Example if  1HP be converted to kw and 1 HP = 745.7 W then;

745.7 w   X   1 kw/1000 W = 1HP

1 HP = 745.7 kw/ 1000 1 kw

1 HP = 0.7457 kw – simple conversion of horsepower to kw

                             In relation to these power measurements and conversions, where a horsepower can be converted in many other SI unit of measurement depending on its uses to solve a mathematical problem, the horse in the same way or the other is also a versatile animal who can perform in different fields of skills and discipline to entertain or work with people and help them solve human problems that include but not limited to speeding up ranch work, mobility, and transport, and they are also used as a therapeutic buddy to relieve stress and psychological depressions to humans.

This is one powerful conversion of a “horsepower” that we all can be thankful for. Horses have the strength to transform our lives and make us live to our purpose. They can actually influence us to be sensitive and friendly as they are. Their gracefulness running the field as free as they can remind us how beautiful our life is with them, and also reminds us with their admirable power that no problem on earth would surface that we cannot endure.

Everything that evolves in the nature of horses actually gives us an inspirational viewpoint on how to make things around us easy and teaches us to become adaptive to the changes that occur not only in our natural environment but also with the changes in our personal and professional relationship with other people that is constantly happening every now and then. Horses, their history, their contribution, and their exhibited strength to sustain and last a tiring job that we can never do, is but a great motivation for us to keep going and never give up no matter what.


More Posts

Send Us A Message