Tack n' Talk

Online Equestrian Resource

BREED SPOTLIGHT: The Florida Cracker

Florida Cracker horses are small saddle horses known for their stamina, intelligence, quickness, strength, and easy ride. They are spirited willing workers with a strong herding instinct and great agility over rough ground.

The ancestors of the Florida Cracker Horse were the Spanish stock brought to the New World during the 1500s. These horses became distinct from their ancestors, partially in response to unique conditions of the Florida environment, but they still maintain many of the ancestral characteristics including their size, short backs, and sloping rumps. Although not strictly considered a gaited breed, many crackers have a distinctive single-foot gait known as the “coon rack”.

In 1791, William Bartram referred to the horses used by early Florida cowboys as “The most beautiful and sprightly species of that noble creature that I have ever seen” Over the years, Cracker Horses have been known by a variety of names including Chicksaw Pony, Seminole Pony, Marsh Tackie, Prairie Pony, Florida Horse, Florida Cow Pony, Grass Gut and others.

The term “cracker” comes from the name given to Florida cattlemen because of the sound made by their “cracking” cow whips. The name was extended to their agile horses, which were perfectly suited for herding and driving Florida’s free roaming scrub and cracker cattle. These hardy horses adapted well to the harsh Florida environment, were essential to the Florida cattle industry and The Florida Cracker Horse Association lists the breed’s characteristics as follows:

“[Florida Cracker horses are] small saddle horses, standing from 13.5 hands to 15.2 at the withers and weighing 700 – 1000 pounds. The head is refined and intelligent in appearance. The profile is straight or slightly concave. The throat latch is prominent and the jaw is short and well defined. The eyes are keen with an alert expression and have reasonable width between them. The eye colors are dark, with a white sclera, gray or blue. The neck is well defined, fairly narrow, without excessive crest and is about the same length as the distance from the withers to the croup. The withers are pronounced but not prominent. Colors are any of those known to the horse; however, solid colors and grays are most common”.

The Florida Cracker Horse Association (FCHA) was formed in 1989 by cattlemen interested in protecting the breed from extinction. The FCHA Registry was created in 1991 and started with several “foundation horses” (horses of known ancestry from cracker lines of long standing). By the year 2000, the Registry included 130 foundation horses and 285 descendants.  The breed’s survival over the last fifty years resulted from the work of a few families who continued to breed Cracker Horses for their own use. It was these ranching families and individuals whose perseverance and distinct bloodlines that kept the Cracker Horses from becoming extinct. The family names include the Ayers, Harvey, Bronson, Matchett, Partin and Whaley names

At the start of 2009, there were 964 horses in the FCHA Registry, approximately 30 at Payne’s Prairie, four mares and one stallion at the Agricultural Museum, and three mares and one stallion at Withlacoochee.

Hope you enjoyed reading about The Florida Cracker – Larissa 🙂



  Sara Nicholson wrote @

Hi Larissa,
Thank you for teaching me about a horse here in America that I never knew about!
Sounds like a really cool little horse 🙂

  tackandtalk wrote @

There aren’t too many of these horses here in North America, and they definately are unique! I’m glad you enjoyed the posting. Larissa 🙂

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