The rack is a 4-beat gait in which the rear leg strikes the ground, then the
front on the same side, then the other rear, then the other front. It's
smooth, and very desireable for trail riding or any riding where you spend all
day in the saddle and want to cover a lot of ground.
Yes.... often you can teach a horse that racks and trots not to rack (or to
rack only when you want him to .... heehee). It may also be accomplished (or
aided) by adding a little more weight to his front feet (like toe clips).
Another little "trick" that will square him up will be to teach him dressage.
Rounding through the back will produce the trot rather than the rack. Have
Whitney + Guido + Munde
"I take my chances every chance I get" - Mary Chapin Carpenter
"Wild horses run unbridled and their spirits never die" -Mariah Carey
Actually, the tendency to rack is the most common of gaited breeds around the
world -- it comes from conformational inclination to travel in a hollow or
ventroflexed manner (usually long back, long lumbar span, often long
tibia/short femur (but not always), steep or very horizontal pelvis, and often
high set on neck. (this position can be man-made in horses that do not have
this extreme type of conformation, simply by forcing the horse into strongly
ventroflexion through riding style (saddle seat is a good example) and use of
In addition to the physical traits that may predisposition a horse to rack,
there are some neurological pathways that seem to be more developed in those
that rack -- the nerves that fire the muscles that move the bones work in such
a way as to produce the coordination necessary for the rack.
There are several varieties of gaits that are called racks -- the true rack
(one foot, two foot support sequence -- lateral timing in the lift off of
hooves, but even timing in the set down) the "saddle type" rack -- which can
be a two foot, three foot support, with the same timing. They are all even 4
beat in set down, but slightly lateral in lift off timing of the hooves.
Fun to ride, but can be *** the horse due to the ventroflexion involved
(causing possible impingement of the vertebrae, just like bad dressage!) and in
the true rack the support system of one leg holding all the horse's weight at
a time. the high action that often accompanies this (natural or induced) is
also *** a horse because of concussion.
If you do not want to rack, lower the horse's head, shift your weight a bit
forward (to at least the old Cavalry "Balanced seat" , and ask him to relax and
stretch his neck forward.
Does this explain more than you want to know?
Lee Z, Still riding after all these years.