Originally introduced to north, central and southern America by the Spanish in the 1500s, and subsequently left behind on their return to Europe, the Florida Cracker Horse shares a similar bloodline with other breeds, including the Spanish Mustang, Criolla and Peruvian Paso. The Chickasaw Horse is one such horse that is credited with the development of the Florida Cracker.
Declared Florida’s state horse in 2008, the Cracker was primarily used as a stock and cattle horse, driving the Florida Cracker cattle across ranches and helping the cowboy to manage his land and property. Prized for its speed and stamina, the Florida Cracker was well suited to endurance riding and was resilient to the heat and rough terrain of the southern landscape.
Typically 13.2-15 hands in height, the Cracker is coloured black, grey and bay, although examples of chestnut are seen. The Cracker is also a gaited horse that boasts a running walk and amble as well as the standard gaits of walk, trot, canter and gallop.
Unfortunately for the breed, with the arrival of cattle screwworm a heavier horse was needed to round the animals for treatment. To fulfil this need, the dexterous American Quarter Horse was used instead. Today, breed numbers remain low and the Florida Cracker Horse faces imminent extinction.
The name ‘Florida Cracker’ comes from the sound of the whips used by Florida Cattlemen when driving their herds.