The racking horse is calm, stunning, and known for its stamina. It also has a unique gait that is easily recognized. Racking horses walk with a single-foot gait, meaning only one foot strikes the ground at a time.
Racking horses were derived from the Tennessee Walking Horse breed and became recognized as their own breed in 1971. The Racking Horse Breeders Association of America was then formed to allow the registry to be established. Today, this breed is thought of as elegant, attractive, and intelligent.
The racking horse breed is popular in the southern states of the U.S. The majority are found in Tennessee and Alabama. They have a smooth natural gait that allows them to be ridden comfortably for hours.
In this guide, you’ll find information about their origin, their uses, what they look like, and more.
Read on for a complete breed profile of this attractive and gracefully built distinct breed.
The name “racking horse” refers to the four-beat gait you hear when these horses run. At full speed, these horses make a thunderous plodding sound of four clunks in a row. It’s impressive to listen to and different from the typical two-beat gait sound.
Ancestors of present-day racking horses were bred for their calm dispositions and pleasant temperament. The breed is also smart and easy to train. Add to that their smooth gait, and it was an ideal horse for using around the southern plantations before the Civil War.
Horse shows were also growing in popularity at that time. Racking horses were shown in horse shows under the name of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Their breed wasn’t officially recognized back then.
Joe D. Bright was the businessman responsible for forming the Racking Horse Breeders Association. The horses were then bred for leisure riding and horse show competitions.
These beautiful horses are calm and gentle. They’re great riding horses for many different skill levels. Adults and children alike can comfortably ride this breed for extended periods of time.
This breed is also intelligent. Coupled with their laid-back temperament, it makes racking horses highly trainable. They aim to please their handlers.
These horses are known to be affectionate toward their owners, as well. Generally, they’re horses that are easy to care for and pleasant to be around.
On average, racking horses stand 15.2 hands tall. That’s about 5 feet 2 inches. They typically weigh around 1,000 pounds. Their bodies are slim and sleek.
Racking horses should have a lot of visible muscle. The neck should be long, and the head should display a straight profile. Ears will prick up straight. The eyes should be bright and large.
These horses are known for their stunning beauty. They look strong and elegant and move with grace. They have thick haunches and long slender front legs.
The racking horse is seen with all coat colors. The registry accepts all solid coat colors, as well as roan. Champagne, dun, and cream coats are acceptable also.
The breed registry accepts pinto racking horses. They have distinctive body markings. In fact, pinto racking horses are often double-registered as spotted saddle horses, too.
The rack, or gait, is what sets this horse breed apart from others the most. The traditional gait of a racking horse is medium-paced and single-footed. Where other breeds typically have two feet on the ground at once, the racking horse has one.
The sound of the hooves is different. Most horses make a two-beat gait sound. These horses produce four beats as each foot comes down separately. The continuous flow of the hooves hitting the ground makes for a smoother ride.
They typically have two distinctive gait paces. They walk at what is referred to as style racking. This is usually around 8 to 10 miles per hour. They also run when they’re speed racking. Speed racking can get up to about 30 miles per hour.
Racking horses are used primarily as show horses. Their unique gait makes them popular to show. Unfortunately, some of these horses are subject to abuse by their handlers.
Handlers sometimes use a practice called soring. It forces the horse to exaggerate his stride during the show. It’s done with devices that are harmful to the horse and unfair in competition. Many horse shows have inspectors who look for artificial devices before a horse is shown.
The Spring Celebration and the World Celebration are the two largest shows for hosting racking horses. They’re put on annually in Priceville, Alabama.
This breed of horse is often used for racing. They are capable of running up to 30 miles per hour. This breed also has great stamina, which is ideal for a racing horse.
Racking horses make good trail horses, as well. Their temperaments make them versatile enough for a wide variety of riders. Families that keep horses privately often have racking horses for pleasure riding.
The life expectancy of a racking horse is in line with the species. They generally live between 25 to 31 years.
Owners should maintain a schedule of regular veterinary checkups. The horses need regular grooming and should be fed a healthy diet.
The racking horse breed is typically healthy. There aren’t any known health issues they’re prone to. With proper care, these horses should live out the normal life expectancy.
Grooming is important for all horses. The racking horse is no exception. Owners should brush their horses’ coats regularly. It smooths out the coat and removes any dirt and debris.
Bathe a horse when he is extra dirty. Make sure to take care around bones that stick out like the hips, ankles, and shoulders. Those areas are often sensitive.
Here are steps for the proper care of a racking horse:
- Start at the head with a curry comb to bring dirt and debris to the coat surface.
- Use circular motions to work down the body.
- Use a dandy brush to go over the coat again when needed.
- Repeat the process with the dandy brush for dirtier horses.
- Use a body finishing brush to add shine to the horse’s coat. Long, even strokes will distribute the natural oils from the skin throughout the hairs in the coat.
- Use a soft cloth to wash the face and head gently.
- Remove all dirt and other debris from the feet with a hoof pick.
- Comb the mane and brush the tail. Use a conditioning product, if needed.
Racking horses eat what most other horse breeds eat. They need consistent servings of hay and grass. Those are staples in all horses’ diets.
Owners can enhance their horses’ nutrition by adding salt, fruits, and vegetables. Other grains are beneficial sometimes, too.
Are There Differences Between Male And Females?
There aren’t a lot of differences between racking stallions and racking mares. Some minor variances include their size. Generally, racking stallions are slightly bigger. They may have more muscle and stand a little taller.
Small differences like this make big differences in the way horses are used, though. For instance, most racehorses are male because of their size and muscle tone.
However, there have been some successful female racehorses. Female horses that win races, though, often get taken out of the race game for breeding. Once she’s won a race, her offspring are more likely to bring in large sums of money to owners.
The cost of a racking horse, like all other horse breeds, is dependent on the specific factors surrounding the horse. The following are factors that affect the price of a horse:
- Genetic traits
- Past performance
- Economic condition
Generally, racking horses are priced around $2,500 to $4,000. However, some are priced as high as $8,000. Depending on circumstances, racking horses may cost less or more than these averages.
Are They Good For Beginners?
Not all horse breeds are good for beginners. Some are tough to handle. Unskilled riders need horses that are patient and calm.
Racking horses have good temperaments for working with beginners. They like to be around people and are laid back most of the time. They also take direction well.
A typical racking horse wants to please its handler. It will often show affection and do what is being asked of it without hesitation. The patience and willingness to learn make this an ideal horse breed for those learning to ride, including children.
These horses are a good all-around breed that serves many purposes. They’re beautiful and strong. They have wonderful temperaments. They’re easy to train. And they like to be around people.
This breed became officially recognized in 1971 and can be seen with all different coat colors. It has a distinctive gait. The gait makes them largely popular as show horses.
They aren’t known to have health issues and are easy to care for. Racking horses are good for all skill levels, make good trail horses, and serve well for leisure riding. It’s a versatile breed that most riders are likely to love.
There’s a whole world of horse breeds out there to explore! Discover and find out more information by checking out our horse breed guides.