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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Florida Cracker [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
In the USA it is also known as Florida's official horse. In addition, it is also known as Seminole Pony, Grass Gut, and Prairie Pony.
It is also known as 'Chicksaw Pony' and 'Marsh Tackie', but it shouldn't be confused with the Chickasaw horse and the Carolina Marsh Tacky, as these are completely different breeds.
Why 'Florida Cracker?':
The ancestors of the Florida Cracker are Spanish horses, mainly of the breeds Barb, Sorraia, and Jennet, that were brought to the Americas during the 16th century by the Spanish conquistadores.
The Florida Cracker itself was also developed during the 16th century, and became popular among the cattlemen at the time. These cattlemen used whips that made a cracking sound so often that the cattlemen received the nickname "crackers," and their horses became known as "Florida Crackers."
The perfect horse for herding cattle over long distances:
Until the 20th century, cattlemen used to drive cattle over long distances, sometimes for several days in a row. Therefore, they bred their Florida Crackers to have a light build and immense endurance to help them withstand these difficult journeys.
The Florida Cracker became a successful breed and was favored by the Florida cattlemen. The ever-expanding cattle market increased the demand for Florida Crackers, and the breed soared in popularity, gradually gaining population beyond its home state.
Following the end of the American Civil War in 1865, Florida started to export more and more cattle to Cuba, and in 1968 it became the largest cattle exporter in the USA. This encouraged ranchers to breed more and more Florida Crackers, to a point that almost every ranch in Florida (if not all of them) owned at least several Florida Cracker horses.
Falling out of favor:
Unfortunately, the Golden Age of the Florida Cracker ended abruptly during the 1930s due to a small parasite, called "screwworm," that was deadly to cattle. In order to fight the screwworm infestation, cattlemen had to divide the herds and enclose them in fenced areas, where it is easier to capture and treat them.
Fenced areas meant that there was no more need for horses with excellent endurance. Instead, cattlemen needed horses who are extremely fast and can accelerate fast enough to chase down a cow. In addition, they had to have enough mass and strength to oppose the power of a cow when the lasso it was captured with is tied to the saddle.
Sadly, the small Florida Cracker didn't have these qualities, and therefore more and more cattlemen began to use American Quarter Horses who fit the bill (see the 'American Quarter Horse' for more information.) Consequently, fewer and fewer Florida Crackers were bred, and the numbers of Florida Crackers plummeted dramatically.
The breed that was once the most popular breed in Florida was now on the brink of extinction.
Saving Florida's oldest breed:
Still, several families continued to use and breed their Florida Crackers during and after the 1930s, and it is thanks to these families that this breed didn't go extinct. Many of the horses that were bred by these families served as a nucleus for the establishment of larger herds of Florida Crackers, that were used to preserve this breed.
In 1989, the Florida Cracker Horse Association (FCHA) was formed to preserve and promote the Florida Cracker.
The Florida Cracker today - more than just a cattle horse:
Despite being seen as a "cattle horse" throughout history, the Florida Cracker was always a versatile horse who could do more than just herding cattle. Many Florida Crackers are amblers and able to perform various ambling gaits such as the running walk, which makes them excellent for trail riding.
Today, the Florida Cracker is still a rare breed but its numbers are slowly increasing. It is used for various Western disciplines, but above all, it is a trail horse.
Florida Crackers have a somewhat iconic 'thin and narrow' conformation. The neck is very thin and bears no more than a minimal crest, the girth curves upwards thus making the underline longer than the upper line, and the body is narrow. In addition, the ears can be curved inwards.
The manes are often medium in length, though horses with short or long manes can be found as well.
The following are the: range, average, (SD), and MOE of performance metrics of ordered Florida Crackers in Horse Isle (not bred ones). In rare cases,
Speed: 14.8-16.4, 15.6 (0.3), 0.06.
Sprint: 41-55, 49 (3), 0.51.
Accel: 0.81-1.00, 0.91 (0.04), 0.01.
Decel: 0.79-0.93, 0.85 (0.03), 0.01.
Jump: 4.92-5.18, 5.02 (0.05), 0.01.
Pull: 1.28-1.84, 1.54 (0.12), 0.02.
Turning: 43.93-57.91, 51.72 (3.2), 0.63.
Reverse: 2.3-3.0, 2.6 (0.1), 0.02.
Stamina: 44.04-49.27, 46.59 (1.25), 0.25.
Reaction: 0.75-0.86, 0.81 (0.02), 0.00.
Coats & Height:
Colors: bay, brown, black, chestnut, grey, and dun.
Additionals: flaxen, linebacked, roan, sooty, dark mane & tail. The coat is usually solid although in rare cases it can be tobiano. White markings are common.
Height: 13.2hh to 15.2hh.
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