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This is a discussion on Racking within the Gaited Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category

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    03-21-2012, 11:53 AM

Anyone out there own a racking horse or rather a gaited horse that does the speed rack? I have lots of questions reguarding gaited horses so fill me in on them!
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    03-21-2012, 10:36 PM
I ride a couple of gaited horses that can rack. I will try to help you with your questions.
    03-21-2012, 10:45 PM
Green Broke
My horse racks, and I've ridden my share of racking horses. Maybe I can help you out too. :)
    03-22-2012, 12:39 AM
I want to hear what is said... my boy racks naturally, and I would love to teach him to do it more consistantly - maybe even get that speed rack some day.

But pending spine surgrey here in the next few months, so he is only getting ridden on occasion by my daughter who has he own horse. So I am looking to gain book knowledge so when I can ride again, we have somethign new to play with!
    03-22-2012, 02:22 PM
Great! Looks like we have some here with experience, Now can you explain the rack itself to me? Whats the diff in a rack and the running walk? Also Racking and speed racking horse shows? What are they looking for in the horse? What breeds rack? Do all gaited horses have a rack?
    03-22-2012, 09:28 PM
I hope this helps you understand the difference between a running walk and a rack. I personally love the rack gait. I have 2 gaited horses that have an excellent rack and are both very fast at it the faster they go the smmooooother they are. I love the feel and the look of the rack much better than the running walk. Both of my horses love to rack and are very competetive.

The Running Walk is a desirable gait because of the obvious smoothness to a rider. For a horse in good condition, the true natural running walk is an easy gait to maintain and hold for distances. It is a gait that causes the least amount of stress to the horses entire body. The running walk is a four beat gait, independent in set down and in the pick up of the hooves. The hoof support sequence is 2 hooves flat on the ground and then 3 hooves on the ground. It is a lateral sequence in that the hind hoof will set down first, followed by the fore hoof on the same side. Also, you will notice the head shake in a running walk. I find that the running walk truly does have a vertical (up and down) head shake. There should be no side to side head motion in the use of the head during the gait of running walk.

The running walk is a gait where the rider can feel a slight, soft forward and back movement in the saddle. One should be able to feel the long low reach of the hind legs coming under the horse and the front pulling in the ground giving the sensation of floating across the ground.

The rack and saddle gait are also smooth gaits but tend to move a rider a bit side to side due again to the lateral pick up of each side even though they are 4 beats in hoof falls. The saddle gait (stepped rack) is one that a rider can feel the shorter stride of the gait and feel a slight bump in the base of the spine due to the breaking of the hocks rather than the low sweeping hind legs of the running walk. In the rack gait feels faster. The rack has a lighter off the fore hand, up in front feeling , with more reach to the gait, covering ground faster than the saddle gait. The rack is harder on your horses body.
When the horse is performing one of the rack gaits, he has to assume a frame that will allow him to perform the gait. All versions of the rack require that a horse raise his head and neck, forming a "dip" just before the withers. The Rack family is performed with a steady, upright, head and neck carriage, a ventroflexed back, and up and down motion of the croup, with active hocks. Length of step, degree of animation and execution will vary among the various breeds and version of the rack family, but the basic frame remains the same. In all of the Rack family gaits, the rider will feel as if they are sitting in the smooth center while action goes on all around him, there will be the feeling of the “horse climbing a ladder” as the front end has a fold which gives height to the front legs while the length of step is not increased.

Conformation traits of horses that will tend to make good "rackers".
Certain conformation traits can predisposition a horse to perform a rack family gait. For example many horses who perform a gait in the rack family have a lower shoulder, higher natural head carriage, a longer back (particularly in the loin area) and more open angled hocks. Many have longer hind legs with short femur/long gaskin ratios in the hind. Often the neck is medium or short in length, set high into the chest and coming out at a more upright angle. Long lumbar span with a well developed but rather long and shallow loin.

The running walk is a gait where the rider can feel a slight, soft forward and back movement in the saddle. One should be able to feel the long low reach of the hind legs coming under the horse and the front pulling in the ground giving the sensation of floating across the ground.
    03-22-2012, 09:39 PM
So... how do I teach my 1/2 Saddlebred to rack?

He has a natural gait that I "assume" is a rack because it is sure not a trot. However, he does it at not much faster than a slow jog. It is VERY smooth for me, he does it with his head up, and yes, it feels like he is going up hill with it.

He will do this at both the 'trot' and the 'canter' - which I understand is unusual for a half bred.
    03-22-2012, 09:50 PM
I happen to have a friend that is a judge for gaited horse shows and these are some of the things that she says that she looks for:
  • Which horses are in compliance with tack and attire requirements for a given class?
  • Which execute all the required gaits when called for in a class, smoothly up in to and down out of them.
  • Which horses maintain consistency in the given gaits, both ways of the ring, this also means holding the correct gait through the corners.
  • Is a horse doing the required gait at all? Such as, is the horse doing a running walk or stepping pace, rack etc. .
  • Is there a definite change of speed from walk to the called for gait?
  • Has the horse reversed correctly for that given class such as English to the rail and western to the center?
  • Is the horse pleasant and mannerly in the ring? No pinned ears, wring of the tail, gapping of the mouth, an over all glad to be doing it's job look.
  • Does a horse meet the requirement for a given class such as a trail pleasure horse verses and plantation horse, English type verses western.
Many errors seen are:
  • Not doing the called for gaits
  • Breaking gait
  • Horses traveling sideways along a rail.
  • Head tipped to the rail
  • Poor performance in the back up
  • Rider getting stiff and becoming an ineffective in supporting their horse.
    03-22-2012, 10:29 PM
Now, I am not an expert but I have trained my young gaited horses to rack. I always start with a young horse that is broke to my leg cues and pressure. I also have their respect and eagerness to please.

Next, have your farrier either pull the front shoes off of your horse, or simply leave very light plates on, and a heavier shoe on the back end. The idea is to make him put a bit more weight behind, to throw him a little bit off balance and encourage him to naturally flow into the rack.

Use a snaffle bridle to start. You can move to a double bridle (snaffle and curb bit) later on if desired once your horse has developed this gait.

Try to ease your horse into the rack from a walk. Do this by raising your hands toward your chest to raise her/his head. Don't worry if her/his nose is out too much. You can correct that later. Keep a very deep seat, legs and feet braced firmly in the stirrups, raise your hands and squeeze and cluck to move her/him forward. Work the bit in her mouth lightly to manipulate her/his movement. This should start slowly. My horses that conformation was right went right into a little rack. Now, on the other hand I have had one that I had to work with it a lot more and it still doesn't have the best rack, it does better in a running walk. Do not force it, be patient and work with your horse.

Remember the rack is a four-beat gait. Meaning when your horse is doing it correctly, he should only have one foot on the grouond at a time. You will know this by the smoothness of the gait. His legs will be moving quickly, and it will be very easy to sit in the saddle without bouncing up and down. If you are bouncing from side to side too much, it means he is pacing. Basically two legs on the same side hitting the ground together. This is not a legitimate rack, and if you are showing the horse in competetition, you will be penalized.

Move to the next level once your horse has learned to rack. Tuck her/his nose in while her/his head is raised up. When you feel she/he is comfortable with the gait, you can switch back to normal shoeing. The rack is a smooth, and sometimes very fast gait. So begin to push him/her forward and see how much speed she can endure. Remember to always keep a deep seat, and use the bridle to keep her/his balanced.

I love training horses to rack. I hope this help you but if not let me know, I will try to explain better.
    03-22-2012, 10:48 PM
You can go to my profile and click on my picture album and you will see a picture of one of my horses learning to rack. He is nosing out a little in that picture, I am now working on teaching him to tuck his head in. I had to make sure he had the rack down first. I hope to have some new pictures soon with him doing the rack with his head set right.

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