Alabama designated the racking horse as the official state horse in 1975. Legendary for its beauty, intelligence, stamina, and calm disposition, the origins of the racking horse date back to the birth of our nation. The horse's popularity grew on the great southern plantations when it was learned how versatile the breed was and that it could be ridden comfortably for hours. Alabama also recognizes an official state championship horse show.
Similar to the Tennessee walking horse (in fact, racking horse origins are deeply rooted in walking horse bloodlines), the racking horse has a smooth, natural gait and is very strong (able to sustain a rapid pace for long periods). The "rack" of a racking horse is neither a pace nor a trot, but a bi-lateral four-beat gait which is often called a "single-foot" because only one foot strikes the ground at a time . The racking horse should not be confused with the "rack" that is an artificially achieved gait achieved with special training in other breeds.
Attractive and gracefully built with a long sloping neck, full flanks, smooth legs, and finely-textured hair, the racking horse is considered a "light" horse in comparison to other breeds, averaging 15.2 hands high and about 1,000 pounds (a "hand" is four inches). Colors may be black, bay, sorrel, chestnut, brown, gray, yellow , or spotted. The racking horse is famous for an extremely comfortable ride and unusual friendliness to humans.
A group of Alabama businessmen formed a corporation and initiated the legal maneuverings that were necessary to designate this horse as a distinct breed. In 1971 the USDA recognized the Racking Horse Breeders' Association of America, thereby allowing a registry to be established to perpetuate the racking horse breed.