Florida Cracker Horse:
Historically, Cracker horses were an essential part of the cattle industry in Florida, which began almost 500 years ago and flourishes today. Florida cowboys were nicknamed "crackers" because of the sound made by their whips cracking in the air. This name was also given to the small, agile Spanish horses that were essential for working Spanish cattle. Over the years, Cracker Horses have been known by a variety of names: Chicksaw Pony, Seminole Pony, March Tackie, Praire Pony, Florida Horse, Florida Cow Pony, Grass Gut and others.
The ancestors of todays Cracker Horses were introduced into what is now Florida as early as 1521 when the Spaniard, Ponce de Leon, on his second Florida trip, brought horses, cattle and other livestock. Such introductions were continued well into the next century by other Spanish explorers and colonists and by mid-1600 cattle ranching and horse breeding was well established. Feral herds started from escaped and liberated animals and both Spanish horses and cattle were quite numerous and common to many areas of Florida long before it became a United States possession in 1821.
First the Indians and later the Pioneers began to use the Spanish Horses. They were hardy, had adapted well to the Florida climate and environment and excelled as working cow ponies. Although best known for their talents at working cattle, Cracker Horses were frequently pressed into service as buggy horses, workstock, and in many instances, were the only horse power for many family farms well into the twentieth century. They are indeed a vital part of Florida's Agricultural Heritage and are very deserving of a place in Florida's future.
The genetic heritage of the Cracker Horse is derived from the Iberian Horse of early sixteenth century Spain and includes blood of the North African Barb, Spanish Sorraia, Spanish Jennet and the Andalusian. Its genetic base is generally the same as that of the Spanish Mustang, Paso Fino, Peruvian Paso, Criolla and other breeds developed from the horses originally introduced by the Spanish into the Caribbean Islands, Cuba and North, Central and South America. The free roaming Cracker Horse evolved over a long period of time through natural selection. It was molded and tempered by nature and a challenging environment into the horse that ultimately was to have a large part in the emergence of Florida as a ranching and general agriculture state.
Cracker Horses are from 13.5 to 15 hands in height and weigh from seven hundred fifty to over nine hundred pounds. They are known for their unusual strength and endurance, herding instinct, quickness and fast walking gait. A good percentage of them have a running walk and some have a single-foot gait which, in true Cracker dialect, is often referred to as a "Coon Rack." Cracker Horse colors are any color common to the horse, however, solid colors, roans and grays are predominant.