Daily photo by Brennen Smith|
Glenn Weeks of Texas with one of his racking horses, D.E.3. Weeks says the breed's popularity is growing in Texas.
The eyes of Texas are watching racking horses more and more
By Paul Huggins
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PRICEVILLE — You've heard everything's bigger in Texas.
Well, that definitely applies to Glenn Weeks' fuel bill compared to what hundreds of other out-of-towners paid to get to the Racking Horse World Celebration this week.
The horse trainer already has spent $1,000 just to traverse the 870 miles from his Texas driveway to his barn at Celebration Arena. He needed three trucks to haul the dozen horses that competed for him this week. Of course, that expense will double when he goes home.
But at least when Weeks heads home Sunday, he knows he'll probably be able to recoup his fuel expenses by selling the racking horses he bought this week. Some sales have fetched him a 400 percent profit, he said.
His top seller, a horse called Sun's Top Gun, cost Weeks $3,500. He loved that horse so much, he swore he'd never sell him. A woman in Texas, however, wanted him more and didn't flinch at paying $25,000 for him.
"I put a high price on him to scare buyers off," Weeks said. "But she just handed me a check and said, 'Now get off my horse.'
"She doesn't even show him. She just rides and enjoys him."
The racking horse is steadily
becoming a heavily sought horse in Texas, which Weeks said is a state that demands more versatility than most regions.
His home in Waller, Texas, about 45 miles northwest of Houston, is cattle country, and Weeks said racking horses can endure a long day's work far better than a quarter horse, the typical Texas steed. For the same reason, long-distance trail riders also prefer the racking horse, he said.
"A racking horse will go 100 miles and not quit. A quarter horse will go 25 miles and that's it. It's done," Weeks said.
Other benefits that Weeks said make racking horses an easy sell to Texans are the breed's calm nature — children can ride stallions without fear — and, perhaps the breed's most beloved feature, the smooth ride that comes with a single-foot gait.
John Harryman, one of Weeks' eight customers who also came from Texas to compete this week, said he frequently joins 100-mile trail rides. On a scale of from one to 10 (10 being the smoothest ride) he said he'd give a racking horse a 10, a percheron (formally his favorite trail horse) a seven and a quarter horse a one.
How popular is the breed in Texas?
Weeks said that two years ago he sold 10 racking horses a month. This year, hay prices jumped from $4 to $9 per bale and lowered his sales to two or three per month.
Racking horses are starting to get into roping and barrel racing events, Weeks said. He mentioned one associate, who after roping a steer in competition, paraded across the ring in a racking gait, surprising and delighting the crowd.
"Texans are very demanding," he said. "And we've made a lot of people very happy. Alabama horses have done Texas proud."
’07 champ could be a repeat
Score at Halftime will attempt to defend its title as the world grand champion racking horse Saturday.
The stallion, trained by Kenny Ailshie of Greenville, Tenn., would become the first horse since Oil Stock’s Delight, also trained by Ailshie in 1991 and ’92, to be a repeat champion.
The 36th Annual World Celebration concludes tonight at Celebration Arena in Priceville. The show starts at 6, and horses will compete in 17 amateur and professionally trained show classes until about 11. Tickets are $7.
The world grand champion will come from the final show class. Other top contenders could include Not Much Doubt, winner of the Spring Celebration in April, and Unreal, the 2002 world grand champion and reserve grand champion in 2004.
Score at Halftime is bucking the trend to defend its title. Champions routinely compete again, but rarely the year after winning the top prize. Owner Denny Russell said the horse deserved the chance to show he’s even better than last year.
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