of the Racking Horse
What's the most versatile breed of horse from the show ring to the work
Legendary for its beauty, stamina, and calm disposition, the popularity
of this noble animal grew strong on the great southern plantations before
the Civil War. It was learned that the horse could be ridden comfortably
for hours because of his smooth, natural gait.
The phenomenal growth of this breed 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.
There was a horse being shown in great numbers, a horse of a distinct type
and characteristics, for which there was no specific judge, no showring
category, no organization and ultimately no incentive for expansion and
growth. The Racking Horse became a dream and a new and most significant
chapter in equine history of this country was begun.
Knowing that this single foot horse called the racking horse had its origins
rooted deeply in Walking Horse bloodlines, it was then realized the possibility
of promoting this animal with no action device, no set tail and without
the canter while spot lighting the docile nature and easily ridden lateral
gait exemplified by the rack.
A group of Alabama businessmen headed by Joe D. Bright formed a corporation
and initiated the legal maneuverings with the USDA to designate this horse
as a distinct breed. A carefully studied program for this venture in the
late 1960's was begun. He gathered knowledgeable horsemen long oriented
in the breeding and raising of horses both for pleasure riding and show
purposes to assist him in this effort. On May 23, 1971, a milestone in
the equine history of America was reached. On this date the USDA recognized
the Racking Horse Breeders' Association of America, thereby allowing a
registry to be established to perpetuate the Racking Horse breed. Until
this time the Racking Horse had been 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 Racking Horse opportunity was presented to horses everywhere, and for
many years the growth of the Racking Horse Breeders' Association was astounding.
The selection of the name "Racking" was not to tie this horse
to any specific state or region. The term "rack" was then the
country nomenclature for the single foot.
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 horseman, the person doing his own training
at home, to being a member, a breeder, and a showring participant.
An organization was needed for the people, to promote the people, the horses
and give the people an opportunity for participating where they could feel
secure and protected. The general membership should always have a voice
in the association, so as not to drive them to another breed or out of
the horse business altogether.
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 Racking Horse Breeders' Association actually laid the foundation and
the incentive for the great trend towards the pleasure horse movement in
the show ring today. When we began the Racking Horse Breeders' Association
this type horse was oftentimes the largest group at the smaller shows.
Even without a group or organization for promotion the interest and participation
was great. This was a horse for the middle income people to enjoy at home,
on trails, and at shows. The majority of the horses were shown on flat
shoes or with very little pad. Once we promoted the idea of a separate
and named breed and established the registry it grew faster than anyone
The Racking Horse originated and was developed from within the ranks of
the pleasure Walking Horse. At this time, in 1971, there was no promotion
for the Walking pleasure horses and no efforts were being made to satisfy
the demands of the pleasure world. Subsequently, the Racking Horse Breeders'
Association grew at an astounding rate.
Kentucky Horse Park, 4089 Iron Works Pike, Lexington, KY 40511
Horse Breeders Association of America
Updated March 17, 1997