The Singlefoot or Racking Horse
There are two registries for the Single-footing & Racking Horse, but the information about this breed of horse is basically the same....in fact, they are the same horses...with many animals being registered with both associations. There are various differences between the associations and reasons why some people prefer one over the other, but it is not my interest to discuss that here. I will just put information about the breed of horse from both of them together in my brief article focused on the history of these horses and what the animals are like. But, I will put links at the bottom so you can visit the official website of each registry. The two registries for this breed are THE RACKING HORSE BREEDERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (RHBAA) which was the original official registry & THE SINGLE-FOOTING HORSE BREEDERS' & OWNERS' ASSOCIATION (SHOBA) which was formed later by horse breeders and owners that wanted to focus on producing naturally gaited, smooth racking horses without artificial aids or inhumane treatment to the horses & to keep away from following show trends like many other breeds have.
The Racking Horse was derived from crossing the Tennessee Walking Horse and Standardbred and Gaited Morgan and other gaited horses with ability to "single foot" or "rack" in order to produce offspring that do this gait naturally. Many of the horses registered as Racking Horses are also purebred animals of a variety of other gaited breeds. The offspring from two purebreds that both Singlefoot well are often seen doing this gait naturally out in the field along their mothers! The breed was officially recognized by the USDA in 1978 as an official horse breed. In 1971, the Racking Horse Breeders' Association of America, headquartered in Decatur, Alabama, was formed as the breed registry. 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, although illegal under the Horse Protection Act of 1970, is also seen within the Racking horse world.
The ancestors of the Racking horse were bred on southern plantations prior to the American Civil War. They could be ridden comfortably for hours because of their smooth, natural gait. They were also bred for a good disposition, intelligence, and versatility. They did not have their own breed association, however, for many years and were often shown as a type of Tennessee Walking Horse. In the mid 1900s, Racking horse enthusiasts formed their own group, the Racking Horse Breeders Association of America, and their breed was recognized by the USDA as separate from the Tennessee Walking Horse in 1971. Then, in 1975, the Racking Horse was designated the official state horse of Alabama.
The Racking Horse is a light weight riding horse & buggy horse, standing an average of 15.2 hands, but ranging from 14.2-16.2 hands, and have an average weight around 1,000 pounds. Overall, the Racking Horse is described as "attractive and gracefully built, the neck long, the shoulders and croup sloping and the build overall well-muscled." Colors accepted by the breed registry include all solid coat colors, including those created by diluted genes, such as cream and champagne. The breed is known for its ambling or broken gait, a four-beat intermediate-speed gait known as the rack or single-foot, which it performs in addition to the walk and canter. The latter gait is not performed at breed-specific horse shows. When assessing the rack, judges place greater weight on correct movement and speed, rather than extreme elevation.
DESCRIPTION OF THE SINGLEFOOT GAIT: The horse is trotting with both the front and rear legs, but in a broken ambling movement rather than the "non-gaited" diagonal trotting motion of many other breeds. A rack traditionally is supposed to be an even broken gait, meaning 50% diagonal and 50% lateral movement. This results in one hoof hitting the ground at a time with an even cadence...1,2,3,4-1,2,3,4...and at high speeds even having only one foot on the ground at a time, thus the nickname "single foot". (To understand this better read the article UNDERSTANDING GAITS on the previous page...and watch the videos below.) Riding a well gaited single-footing horse is a great experience! Do it once and chances are high you will want to get one of your own to ride all the time!
Below are sequential pics of a Single-Foot (Speed Rack) gait. See how there is always one hoof on the ground as they fly along! (If I included pics between each of these frames you'd see that part of the time there are two feet on the ground as well...like you can see in some of the pics above.)
Watch Sunrise's Perfection (a Missouri Fox Trotter mare) doing a super comfortable trail racking gait ranging from 10-18 mph!
Next....30 mph...get ready to fly!
Watch REVEREND HOMER above & THE GRAVEDIGGER below...two truly amazing, smooth riding single-footing stallions!
See two singlefooting horses from DeMille Family Ranch (www.SmoothestRide.com) below: