A true Racking Horse will naturally use the single foot gait, which is more correctly known as a lateral four beat gait. The reason that the term "single foot" is historically used with the breed is because only one foot, a single foot, is on the ground at any one time during the movement of the horse. This means that the weight of the horse is transferred from one leg to the other in a distinctive four beat pattern. The feet actually hit the ground in a regular pattern that consists of right hind foot, right front foot, left hind foot and left front foot. Since the motion is transference of weight along the sides of the horse, the rider, sitting in the center of the body, really doesn't have any distinctive motion, leading to the feeling of gliding in the saddle.
A Racking Horse never has to be taught the gait using any type of artificial or mechanical means. These extremely cruel and inhuman devices are used by disreputable and despicable people to give the impression of a racking gait by causing the horse extreme pain when he or she puts the front feet down. Often these devices include chains that dig into the back of the pastern, chemicals that cause burning sensations as well as real burns and blisters and even nails and other sharp devices inserted between the tender sole and the edge of the hoof wall.
Many people do wonder how the trainers get the Racking Horse to complete the high stepping and high extension type moves with the front feet, as well as the springy hock action with the back feet without using any type of mechanical devices. It is important to realize that the racking gait can only be done when the horse is in a certain position that allows the front shoulders maximum rotation and movement. The key to teaching and training the show racking gait is to simply teach the horse to get into the right "frame" or position. The correct frame for the racking gait is when the horse has the head high and elevated and the neck rather straight up and down. This in turn shifts the weight to the hindquarters and gives a slight backwards slope to the topline of the body. The horse is then able to lift the legs up higher, which are taught through repositioning on the body, and leg and hand cues and aids from the rider. This training may take months to accomplish but it is very dramatic when taught correctly and consistently using very positive, natural training methods.
With the weight off the front end and the croup will naturally move up and down in a rolling motion, rather than staying flat like a regular horse. This is a lateral movement not a jerking movement, and the rider will simply feel the smoothness of the ride. With this rolling motion the horse will break at the hock or bend the hock more, causing the hind legs to have the classic movement in time with the four beat gaits.