Racking Horse

The Racking Horse is known  for its beauty, stamina, and calm disposition, the popularity of this noble animal originated on the great southern plantations before the Civil War. Plantation owners, Overseer's and the Southern Gentlemen of the era charished the breed for it's smooth, natural gait. This was a breed of horse  that  could be ridden comfortably for hours, allowing the great distances between plantations to be covered in comfort. 

The rack is a fast evenly timed, bi-lateral gait in which each foot meets the ground separately at equal intervals.  The "rack" of the Racking Horse is a  four-beat gait which is neither a pace nor a trot.  It is often called a "single-foot"because only one foot strikes the ground at a time.  There is no head nod, and the shoulders and hindquarters are very active.  The horse appears to jump from one foot to the other as he moves.  There is some overstep in this gait,  but not as much as in the running walk.  The Racking Horse comes by this gait as naturally as walking or striking a bold trot comes to other breeds and is not the same as the show gait of  other breeds which the "rack" is an artificially achieved gait resulting from special training. 

The Racking Horse Breeders' Association of America was formed in 1971 when a group of
Alabama horsemen who were involved with  the Tennessee Walking Horse splitt off from the
parent club and formed the RHBAA to perpetuate the Racking Horse breed. Until this time the Racking Horse was being shown, and it was the only horse in the show rings of the nation not protected by a registry or a uniform set of rules. The primary function of the Racking Horse Breeders' Association was to "establish a registry to protect and perpetuate the breed". The United States Department  of Agriculture granted a Registry and Stud Book to the organization that same year, and a new breed was officially born.

The main objective and the philosophy of the Racking Horse Breeders that the organization serve the amateur horseman, the person doing his own training at home. The primary reasons for the
breed's split from the Tennessee Walking Horse were economical and political. It was  in 1971 that the Horse Protection Act went into effect, targeting the practice of soring within the Tennessee Walking Horse industry. Many of the individuals in the Tennessee Walking Horse breed who opted to go with the RHBAA did so to get away from the problems that were plaguing the TWH breed.  The Racking Horse Breeders' Association of America stives to keep within the economic reach of the marketplace the benifits to being a member, a breeder, and a showring participant. 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. Horses were registered by inspection. The majority of the horses were shown on flat shoes or with very little pad. 

In the early years the breed grew in leaps and bounds,a fact that can be directly attributed to its intelligence and versatility. Beginning riders cherish the smooth, easy gait and the calm temperament of the Racking Horse. Veteran horsemen admire his beauty and ability to perform anywhere from the work field to the show ring.  Alabama is the  headquarters for the association, and Tennessee and Alabama contain the largest  number of Racking Horses in the United States. The fact that the foundation stock of  today's Racking Horse are Tennessee Walking Horses explains much about the breed. The Racking Horse performs the rack, which is similar to the running walk of the Tennessee Walking Horse, although more collection is present in the Racking Horse's movement. Racking Horses do not have set tails as do many Tennessee Walking Horses. 

The Racking Horse is attractive and gracefully  built with a long sloping neck, full flanks, well boned, smooth legs and finely textured hair.  The Racking Horse is considered a "light" horse in comparison with other breeds, averaging 15.2 hands high and weighing 1,000 pounds.  Colors may be black, bay, sorrel, chestnut, brown, gray, roan, white, brown, dun, palomino, yellow, and sometimes even a  pinto coloration, known within the breed as "spotted" .  Spotted Racking Horses are often registered with the National Spotted Saddle Horse Association as well as with the RHBAA, and are commonly seen in the show ring. Some Racking Horse events are now offering classes specifically for spotted horses, although the coloration is also permitted in regular classes.

Open Show Division  classes fall under the category of "open shod," which means that horses entered in these classes are wearing either flat pads or wedge pads made of leather, plastic or other pliant material on their front feet. Weighted shoes are also allowed.  The purpose of these pads is to provide an  artificial extension to the hoof and to encourage the horse to lift its feet higher in the show ring. The RHBAA has laid out strict edicts covering the size and thickness of the pads. The  Association also addresses the issue of soring, stating "Abusive treatment and/or training techniques designed to produce an alteration of the gaits shall not be condoned." Racking Horses are also subject to the DQP inspections outlined in the Horse Protection Act, as are Tennessee Walking Horses and Saddlebreds. There are also classes  in trail pleasure, country pleasure, western  pleasure, park pleasure, show pleasure, style pleasure, pleasure driving classes, trail obstacle courses.and others in the Trail, Field and Pleasure Division which provides show ring opportunities for owner-riders. There is also a Versatility Program, which was developed to promote the utilization of the flat-shod   pleasure Racking Horse in all aspects of the pleasure horse industry. It consists of a merit program by which Racking Horses can earn points by participating and succeeding in a wide variety of classes, including English trail pleasure, pleasure driving, western pleasure, halter, trail obstacle and even endurance riding.

The gaits performed by the Racking Horse are the same on the trail ride and  and the show ring.   The Racking Horse is  shown under saddle, in hand or in  harness, Racking Horses are both  flat shot or shown with pads.In all uses the Racking Horse perrforms the smooth, collected gait which  made him famous as a pleasure mount. 

The RHBAA has two procedures for registration. The primary procedure involves a foal out of
two registered Racking Horses and is called pedigree registration.  The sire and dam must be
registered racking at the time of service in order for the foal to be eligible for pedigree
registration.  Sire, dam, and foal must all be blood-typed before a registration is complete. 
Stallion Reports are required.  To obtain the application and additional information to register,
please contact RHBAA.

   The RHBAA has also re-opened its books for registration.  This means you may have your horse commission registered if he/she is performing a four-beat gait verified by personal inspection  and approved by a qualified  licensed  RHBAA  commissioner to determine that the horse is capable of performing the rack.and elegable for registration. All commission registered horses born in 1994 and after must be blood-typed to be registered.  The RHBAA wishes to  encourage new registrations into their  breed. 

The character of the Racking Horse is described as gentle, intelligent and affectionate. Also desired is a willingness to learn, an eagerness to work and an ability to perform in more than one function. 

The Racking Horse recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and according to RHBAA Executive Director Dan R. Brown, the breed is growing. "We have 77,000 horses registered in all 50 states and in foreign countries too," he says. "And our registry is growing at about 3,000 horses per year." At this rate, it won't be long before the Racking Horse is a common sight in show rings throughout the equine world.

For more information on the Racking Horse, contact 
the Racking Horse Breeders Association of America, 
Rt. 2, Box 72-A,
Decatur, AL 35603-9735.
Phone # (256) 353-7225 
Fax # (256) 353-7266