The Racking Horse is a horse breed derived from the Tennessee Walking Horse, recognized by the USDA in 1971. 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.
Some classes allow special shoes that enhance action, and a relatively newer class allows the use of chains, six ounces and under as action devices. Since the breed's inception, about 120,000 Racking Horses have been registered, with the largest populations located in the US states of Alabama and Tennessee.
The Racking Horse History
The ancestors of the Racking Horse were first 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. Their development was similar to that and in some cases linked to that of the Tennessee Walking Horse, also popular in the southeastern US.
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 some larger ones. They did not have their own breed association, however, and were often shown as a type of Tennessee Walking Horse.
RHBAA Formed in 1971
In 1971, Racking Horse enthusiasts formed their own group, the Racking Horse Breeders' Association of America (RHBAA), and their breed was recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture as separate from the Tennessee Walking Horse the same year.
However, many horses registered as Racking Horses were crosses between Racking and Walking Horses, as it was difficult to find breeding stock. In 1975, the Racking Horse was designated the official state horse of Alabama.
The first Racking Horse stallion to be syndicated was the 1975 World Grand Champion, Bentley's Ace. Trained and owned by natives of Arab, Alabama, he cost $350 as a colt and after his win was syndicated for $100,000.
EZD Falcon Rowdy and Speck
Two stallions who became well known in the early days of the association were EZD Falcon Rowdy and Speck.
EZD Falcon Rowdy was a dappled buckskin owned and ridden by John Demetris. He was noted for his good conformation, and he won two world championships in speed racking, in 1976 and 1983. He was a popular sire as well.
Speck, owned by Robert Skimehorn, was a red roan stallion who won 14 world championships in speed racking and was also a very influential sire.
Although Speck died in 2000 as the result of a stroke, his and EZD Falcon Rowdy's bloodlines are still influencing the Racking Horse breed today.
Uses of the Racking Horse
The Racking Horse is a gracefully built, good-looking mount with a long, sloping neck, full flanks, flat smooth legs and finely textured hair.
Compared with most others, the Racking Horse is small to medium in size, averaging around 15.2 hands in height, and approximately 1,000 pounds in weight. Colors include sorrel, chestnut, black, roan, white, bay, brown, grey, yellow, dun, palomino, buckskin, champagne ad cremelo.
In some horses, the “rack” is considered to be an artificial gait but true to the Racking Horse, this gait comes just as naturally to him as walking or striking a bold trot to most other horses, therefore requiring no special training to perform his graceful, smooth gait.
For years, the Racking Horse has continued to work his way from the farms and plantations and the days of the circuit riders to become one of the most desired show horses of our day. The answer to a beginning rider’s prayer, the Racking Horse is a horse that is kind to humans, smooth tempered, with a four-beat action, which creates a comfortable shock-absorbed ride.
The “rack” is often called the “single-foot” because a single foot strikes the ground at a time. At a rack, the horse should display style, speed and action. The Racking Horse’s natural friendliness and easy-going disposition have made it a favorite with horse show fans and riders alike. His years of performing farm chores have resulted in a docile and intelligent horse of many great qualifications.