In which I learn new stuff about Standardbreds: the speed-racking horses

I spend a lot of time on this blog praising Standardbreds...and especially praising Fiddle. 

But hey, I thought.  Why not talk about some other Standie cousins?  I queried folks on Facebook who compete their STBs in endurance, and asked them to provide photos, videos and stories about their brown horses, and I want to share the stuff I'm learning here.

Shaggin' Ass, owned and ridden by Anita Rees

Speed racking horse Shag with Anita

You see that I'm not kidding when I say that Standies have the dumbest names ever.  But in this case, we can't even blame the United States Trotting Association, because standie gelding "Shag" comes from outside the USTA!

Here's what Anita Rees of Kentucky has to say about her 15 hand, 12 year old unregistered Standardbred gelding:

"He's homebred, never been on the track.  I saw him several years ago at a big speed racking competition.... 

I've had Shag about a year.  He's one of the most stubborn horses I've ever dealt with, and can be very buddy sour. He paces, racks, trots (a little) and is developing a lovely canter.  He has huge floppy ears, floppy lower lip, big roman nose and his front legs splay out in different directs.  BUT he's wicked fast, has incredible good bone and feet, excellent recoveries, is very sure footed, and eats anything anywhere.

Shag and a friend
My plan for his first 50 [this spring] is to go slow and keep him by himself. 

Talkin' with those great big ears!
Learning about Shag got me interested in the whole sport of speed racking--about which I know absolutely nothing.  So, I asked a bunch of questions and started googling around.  

Who organizes these events?   Are there prizes?  Anita told me that speed racking races can be organized by anyone who is interested to do it.  They have classes at local shows (in the South) with money prizes.  There are a few big competitions each year.  Racking on the Edge and Big Guns are two major events held each year in Jamestown, TN.  There are trophies but no money prizes at the big events--those are for bragging rights.

Is there a registry?  The United States Trotting Association doesn't track speed rackers, but the Racking Horse Breeding Association registers quite a few.  Many speed rackers are known to be Standardbreds or STB-crosses.

There is also a Speed Racking Association of American.
(All spelling mistakes and grammar goofs are native to the original, I didn't change them.) 
The Speed Racking Association is an association that hopes to promote the speed racking horse and the Racking Horse Breeders of America, our association was formed in part to give the speed racking horse a guideline in their performance.  We hope to increase the participation and educate the exhibitors and fans of what is expected of a speed racking horse.  We are a horse that is judged on speed, style and confirmation while exhibiting the gait of the rack, at no time should the horse lose its form and confirmation while performing the speed rack, it must still perform the three gaits of a racking horse what are show walk, slow rack and fast rack in the most stylish manner possible.  Is it the hope of this association along with the Racking Horse Breeders Association that this division grows and helps entertain the fans in the stands.  

The graphic for the RHBAA Speed Racking Association logo (above) gave me pause, so I asked more questions.  

What kind of shoes are used on speed racking horses?  Are there rules?  
Anita said that some people will put heavier shoes on the front to make the horse rack (rather than pace).  The last speed racking competition she attended allowed only standard keg shoes.  

Patricia Clark (another Standie lover--we'll be hearing more from her in a blog post soon!) chimed in that she sees speed rackers wearing keg shoes or a 3/4 or 3/8 shoe, known as a "colt shoe."  I didn't know what that was, so I went googling again and found THIS.

This was labelled on the website as a 3/8 x 3/4 Competition Lite Shod

Are there rules against soring?  Are there any veterinary controls?  Does anybody check?
There are no veterinary controls.  Soring wouldn't make a horse go faster (makes sense) so it's not a thing.  

At the Big Guns event, organizers specified that keg shoes were required for the speed racking events, but they weren't checking everybody.  The horses for that event also had to qualify with a 20mph speed rack.  (!!!!!)

Wanna see what it looks like?  Of course you do!  The mare in the video belongs to a friend of Anita, and she came from New Vocations, which is where Patricia got her horse Eli.  Look at those feet go!

Coming soon:  another Standardbred!  


  1. How many MPH are these horses going?

    1. The qualifying speed is 20mph, so they have to go that fast to even play the game.

      Winning speeds are around 30mph...and you notice it's not "once around the track and you're done" either!

  2. I grew up riding a standardbred! His USTA name was Classy Clyde and he was a pacer but I used him in Pony Club and evented on him. He would have loved endurance. I loved that horse dearly. My goal is to get a standardbred as my next horse (which won't be for a while).

  3. I love my two STB boys. Jimmy (Are An Earl) is now almost twenty and retired because his racing career (43 starts) and then show jumping career (he was apperently jumping over a metre) left his hocks shot. I got him as a trail horse and he was awesome for that, was never brave enough to jump him. I stopped riding him when I couldn't keep him sound enough (for what I was doing with him) without some pretty serious intervention. He is paddock sound and comfortable on just a joint sup after retirement. He'll be with me until he dies.
    Little (HANOVER SANDS) has been chilling in the paddock for the last ten years... I'm hoping he'll make an Endurance beast. Your adventures with Fiddle have greatly inspired me to get him going and I'm really looking forward to hitting the trails with him. Aus has a great history of STB endurance horses (and the in thing here is a STB x Arab cross).

  4. It looks just like a tolt to me. I just looked it up and it seems that a speed rack and a tolt are the same gait. Icelandics wear little weights on their ankles.

    1. They can wear those, and probably do in competition, but one of my best riding memories was a long trailride I took on a 13.2 hand imported Icelandic.... we tolted all over the mountains, with me laughing the whole time, and I remember being impressed at how solid his barefoot, bare legs were, so they can definitely do a solid tolt without the bells and whistles.

      I still want to own one - wouldn't it just make the best little kids "pony"?

    2. lytha, I'm pretty sure you're right: it's a "speed rack" if it's a big ol' Standie doing it. It's a "tolt" if performed by an Icie. Otherwise, I don't see a difference!

  5. Becky, did you know Icelandics are "racist" against other breeds of horse? It's true. You can put an Icelandic in a herd of other breeds, but not the other way around.

    1. This is utterly fascinating - I had no idea! I wonder why?

  6. Little man syndrome? lol #JustKidding Love the little Icies!


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