The 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 cherished 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 split 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 natiion 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 Departent of Agriculture granted a Registry and Stud Book to the organization that same year, and a new breed was officially born. 
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 and artificial extension to the hoof and to encourage the horse to lift its feet higher in the show ring.  Teh 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, county 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 Veratility Program, which was developed to proote 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 the show ring.  The Racking Horse is shown under saddle, in hand or in harness.  Racking Horses are both flat shod or shown with pads.  In all uses the Racking Horse performs 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.

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 deterine that the horse is capable of performing the rack and eligable 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.  (Information from the Racking Horse Breed Association web site.)
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