Tennessee Walking Horse

Category: Horses

The Tennessee Walking Horse is used for a variety of horseback riding experiences. This breed is ideal for trail riding, as it has a comfortable, natural gait. Tennessee Walkers also do well as both Western and English show horses.

Tennessee Walking Horse

Tennessee Walking Horse

Scientific & Common Names

Genus & Species - Equus ferus caballus

Common Name - Tennessee Walking Horses, Tennessee Walker

Characteristics

The major distinguishing characteristic of the Tennessee Walking horse is its natural gait. The smooth "running-walk" of a Tennessee Walking Horse is incredibly comfortable for the rider and cannot be taught to a non-Walking Horse. In this gait, each hoof hits the ground independently. In horse shows, the high-stepping "Big Lick" gait is often exaggerated by the use of special shoes and sometimes illegal soring of the horse's legs. Tennessee Walkers are usually 15 to 16 hands (60 to 64 inches) in height with an upright, noble bearing. They come in bay, sorrel, black, brown, chestnut, gray, and white. Some Walkers have spots of white on their faces, legs, and bodies.

Breeding

Tennessee Walker mares are usually bred when they are around age 3. They carry the pregnancy for about 11 months before foaling near their fourth birthday. Stallions are sometimes used for breeding mares, but other breeders use artificial insemination for convenience.

Behavior

Tennessee Walkers are smart, gentle, and affectionate. They respond very well to training and enjoy trail riding. They have docile temperaments and are generally very calm horses.

History

In the 1800s, Middle Tennessee plantation owners from the Carolinas used bloodlines from Thoroughbreds, Morgans, Saddlebreds, and Canadian Pacers to create the Tennessee Walking Horse. The cross-breeding produced horses that were selected to naturally display the "Running-Walk" gait. Plantation owners valued their gaited horses because the ride was smooth and could be sustained for long periods of time without stressing the horse. Soon, other people who needed comfortable horses, like clergymen, doctors, and deliverymen, chose Tennessee Walkers. The Tennessee Walking Horse registry was created in 1935, and every September, Shelbyville, Tennessee hosts a show to determine the "The Grand Champion Walking Horse of the World."

Present Status

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association was formed in 1935, and they currently have over 20,000 members. These horses are popular all across the United States and are used for working cattle, pleasure riding, and showing.