Racking horse

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Racking Horse
Country of origin United States
Equus ferus caballus

The Racking Horse is horse breed derived from the Tennessee Walking Horse, recognized by the USDA in 1978. It is known for a distinctive singlefoot gait. In 1971, the Racking Horse Breeders' Association of America, headquartered in Decatur, Alabama, was formed as the breed registry. Its goal is to preserve the breed in a natural state with little or no artificial devices that enhance gait. The horse's tail is naturally raised without nicking. Some classes allow special shoes that enhance action and a new class allows the use of chains, 6 ounces and under as action devices. The practice of soring, illegal under the Horse Protection Act of 1970, is also seen within the Racking horse world.


The Racking Horse is a light riding horse, standing an average of 15.2 hands (62 inches, 157 cm) high and weighing around 1,000 pounds (450 kg). Overall, the Racking Horse is described as "attractive and gracefully built".[1] The neck is long, the shoulders and croup sloping and the build overall well-muscled. Colors accepted by the breed registry include all solid equine coat colors and roan. Racking Horses are also commonly seen in colors created by dilution genes, such as dun, cream and champagne, [2][3] The breed is known for its ambling gait, a four-beat intermediate-speed gait known as the rack or single-foot, which it performs in addition to the walk and canter.[1] The latter gait is not performed at breed-specific horse shows. When assessing the rack, judges place greater weight on correct movement and speed, rather than extreme elevation.[2]

The rack may range in speed from 8 miles an hour in pleasure or style racking, up to as fast as 30 mph in speed racking. They can also have pinto markings. Some pinto Racking Horses may be double registered as Spotted Saddle horses.[citation needed][dubious ]


The ancestors of the Racking horse were bred on southern plantations prior to the American Civil War. They could be ridden comfortably for hours because of their smooth, natural gait. They were also bred for a good disposition, intelligence, and versatility.[2] Their development was similar to that of the more famous Tennessee Walking Horse, also popular in the southeastern US.[4] In the late 1800s, horse shows became increasingly popular in the southeastern United States, as an alternative to the gambling associated with horse racing. Racking horses were most commonly seen at small shows, although they were also seen at larger ones. They did not have their own breed association, however,[2] and were often shown as a type of Tennessee Walking Horse.[4]

In the mid 1900s, Racking horse enthusiasts formed their own group, the Racking Horse Breeders Association of America, and their breed was recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture as separate from the Tennessee Walking Horse in 1971.[2] In 1975, the Racking Horse was designated the official state horse of Alabama.[1]


The Racking Horse Breeders Association of America was originally formed as a vehicle for the promotion of horses shown without the artificial and extreme devices often seen in Tennessee Walking Horse and other gaited breed showing.[2] However, the Racking Horse is one of the breeds often harmed by the inhumane practice of soring, prohibited at the federal level by the Horse Protection Act of 1970. Soring is a practice used to accentuate the gaits of breeds such as the Tennessee Walking Horse and Racking Horse, in order to gain an unfair advantage in competition.[5] The Racking Horse may be shown in saddle seat or western tack and attire, as well as in driving. Horses are shown in a long natural mane and tail, but for saddle seat classes, the horse will have ribbons braided in the mane.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Official State Horse: Racking Horse". Alabama Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2013-03-24. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Dutson, Judith (2005). Storey's Illustrated Guide to 96 Horse Breeds of North America. Storey Publishing. pp. 212–213. ISBN 1580176135. 
  3. ^ a b "Section 5.2: Conformation" (PDF). Bylaws of the Racking Horse Breeders Association of America. Racking Horse Breeders Association of America. p. 20-21. Retrieved 2015-08-27. 
  4. ^ a b Harris, Moira C. and Langrish, Bob; Bob Langrish; Moira C. Harris (2006-09-01). America's Horses: A Celebration of the Horse Breeds Born in the U.S.A. Globe Pequot. p. 171. ISBN 1-59228-893-6. 
  5. ^ "The Horse Protection Act" (PDF). Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. September 2009. Retrieved 2013-03-24. 

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