If you have ever been to a horse show where there is a demonstration or show where absolutely beautiful, relatively small sized horses with amazing gaits were brought into the ring and just seemed to love being the center of attention, you were fortunate enough to see a Racking Horse event. The Racking Horse is a uniquely American breed of gaited horse developed in the southern United States to allow plantation owners and farmers alike a comfortable riding horse that could also double as both a farm work horse as well as a driving horse.
The Racking horses in shows all can be entered in various types of competitions and events. These range from the driving events through to the pleasure riding and even costume events where riders and horses are outfitted in historically accurate costumes and tack. The versatility of the Racking Horse as well as the smooth ride and effortless, natural single footed gait make it really wonderful to watch being put through his or her paces.
Showing the Racking Horse really depends on the owner's preferences. There are special halter competitions for Racking Horses where the handler takes the horse into the ring and exhibits the racking gait or the lateral four beat gaits this breed is so famous for. The judges in the halter class are looking for conformation of the horse, gait as well as movement and overal appearance. The halter class may be ideal for younger horses that are not yet trained under saddle, for foals and weanlings, or even for stallions or mares. The emphasis in the halter competition is all on the horse and his or her meeting the breed standards as compared to the other horses in the ring.
Driving events and competitions that feature the Racking Horse are beautiful to watch. The horses are groomed to a shine and the harness and buggy are all decorated to draw attention to the horse as he or she is shown in the ring. Country pleasure racking competitions highlight the racking gait of the horse as well as the horse and rider's ability to work together in the ring. Judges look for the traditional gliding style of movement with no noticeable up and down jerking traditionally seen in the rider on a non-gaited type of horse. The rider should remain in place without horizontal or vertical movement of the upper body during the event. There are many other types of categories and events that the Racking Horse may be entered in. Typically shows will break up the categories by age of the rider as well as riding style or event. Speed racking involves the faster paces at which the horse must still maintain form and the rider must be in control and well balanced at all times. Speed racking is also very interesting and entertaining event to watch as well as compete in.
If interested in learning about Racking Horse shows the best option is to plan to attend a National Racking Horse Association or other Racking Horse group show or event in your area. Don't be afraid to ask about the judging, events and competition as most Racking Horse owners are happy to share this information and appreciate interest in the breed.