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Horse Breeds
First Posted: July 11, 2009
Feb 9, 2014

Racking Horse A Gaited Breed

Racking Horse

Registered Name: Cherokee's Outlaw/Pasture Name: Preacher Man

One of my past horses, Preacher Man, pasture name, Cherokee's Outlaw Registered name. Preacher was only 18 months, in this picture. I was training him to park out. He had a hot temperament and was quite willful and defiant. He had been abused in his life before me and had psychological and physical scars to prove it. I gave him lots of love and kindness to win his trust and deprogrammed him and reprogrammed him, the best that I could, over a 4 year period. Then I gave him away to a friend in Kentucky. I told her he needed an advanced rider and was good 95% of the time but the other 5%--watch out!

3-D Flags
Country of Origin: United States

The Racker must gait naturally within its first two years of life without any artificial equipment or intervention and be recognized by judges from the Racking Horse Association, as such.

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. The breed has its own organization, the Racking Horse Breeders' Association of America, headquartered in Decatur, AL. 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, is also seen within the Racking horse world.

Note: Singlefoot - At the fastest speeds these horses will be traveling with one foot on the ground at a time, thus the name "single-footing." Although a 4-beat gait, the rack has a shorter stride from back to front. Speed rackers perform this gait really fast. To see a speed racker show is quite exciting. The crowd goes wild. The stride is shorter than the running walk, for example. The horse will not have a head nod or bob. The Single Footers generally travel with head up, "star gazing." They also tend to hollow their backs instead of arch (round) them. "Many may stretch out, lowering their heads at the racing single-foot. The horse may have other gaits, as well." The rack is a naturally occurring gait, present from birth, that does not require any training aids or action devices.


Ancestors of the Racking horse developed from bloodlines of the Tennessee Walking Horse that arose on southern plantations prior to the American Civil War as a horse which could be ridden comfortably for hours because of a smooth, natural gait. It was also bred for a good disposition, intelligence and versatility.

By the mid-20th century, there was no promotion for flat shod Walking pleasure horses. Further, the Racking horse had a distinct type and characteristics, but no specific category of horse show rules or a registry. A number of aficionados of this type wished to promoting the type as a breed that could be shown with no action devices, no set tail and without the canter, yet spotlighting the docile nature and easily ridden lateral gait exemplified by the rack, a fast lateral gait sometimes called the singlefoot Although the Racking Horse today can be shown without pads there are also variety of shoes of different heights and weights to show with. Also, it is within regulations to have chains around the front hooves (just below the ankles and resting on the hoof loosely) as well, and they vary from 2-6 or more ounces in weight each, giving just enough weight and feel to make the horse want to kick them off their hooves when they pick them up, hence the appearance of such in the Specialty Action class horses.

A group of Alabamians headed by Joe D. Bright formed a corporation and initiated discussions with the USDA to designate the horse as a distinct breed from the Tennessee Walking Horse, which was then under federal scrutiny by the USDA due to the practice of soring, which was a serious concern at the time. Mr. Bright gathered knowledgeable show and pleasure horse breeders to assist him in this effort. On May 23, 1971, the USDA recognized the Racking Horse Breeders' Association of America, thereby allowing a registry to be established to perpetuate the Racking Horse breed.

The primary function of the Racking Horse Breeders' Association was to "establish a registry to protect and perpetuate the breed." The Racking Horse registry was open to horses from any state. The selection of the name "Racking" was not to tie this horse to any specific region. Eligibility for registration was determined upon the performance of the gaits natural to the breed, and in the beginning horses of all ages could be registered by gait performances. The goal was to promote a horse for middle income people to enjoy at home, on trails, and shown on flat shoes or with very little pad.

The main objective and the philosophy of the Racking Horse Breeders was to create an organization that was within the economic reach of the marketplace that would serve the amateur horse owner, a person doing his or her own training at home, as a both a breeder and a show-ring participant. The general membership was encouraged to have a voice in the association. The Racking Horse Breeders' Association laid the foundation and the incentive for the trend towards the pleasure horse movement by other gaited breeds in the show ring today.

The Racking Horse is the official state horse of Alabama.

For More Information:

Rackers Breeding Horse Association of America
National Racking Horse Association
Official Symbols and Emblems of Alabama
Racking Horse - Oklahoma State University - Breeds of Livestock

Horse Breeds