Tennessee Walking Horses

Tennesee Walking Horses have a long history in America; they're an ideal for performance and pleasure showing, as well as general riding.

by Dani Yokhna
PHOTO: Jean/Flickr

Use: The breed is used for many different types of riding. Showing takes place in two different categories: Performance and Pleasure. Performance Tennessee Walking Horses wear built-up shoes and perform very dramatic versions of their famous gaits in the show ring. Tennessee Walkers in the Pleasure division are shown in western and English tack, and are considered “light shod” because they don’t wear the built-up shoes of the horses in the Performance division. Tennessee Walking Horses also compete with other breeds in open shows. They can do gymkhana, jumping and reining. They even do dressage in special classes for gaited breeds where the trot is not required. Tennessee Walking Horses also make good trail horses. Some riders use Tennessee Walkers for competitive distance riding, such as competitive trail riding and endurance.

History: The Tennessee Walking Horse is an old American breed that was developed in the 1700s. The Narragansett and Canadian Pacer, the Standardbred, the Thoroughbred, the Morgan, and the American Saddlebred breeds all contributed to the development of the Tennessee Walking Horse. The creation of the Tennessee Walking Horse was prompted by farmers looking for a comfortable horse to ride long distances. These horsemen used common breeds to come up with a hardy horse that was willing to work and easy to ride. This new breed, at first known as the Plantation Horse, was widely used by plantation owners to survey their land holdings. Eventually, the horse came to be known as the Tennessee Walker because it originated in the Volunteer State, and had a smooth, ambling gait. The breed became famous throughout the South for this special gait, which was easy to ride for long periods of time. In 1935, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association was formed in Lewisburg, Tenn., to record the pedigrees of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Today, more than 430,000 TWHBEA registered Tennessee Walking Horses can be found throughout the world.

Conformation: The breed has a large height range, from 14.3 to 17 hands. Tennessee Walking Horses also come in a variety of colors, including black, bay, chestnut, brown, buckskin, grey, palomino, cremello and perlino. Tennessee Walking Horses also come in pinto and roan.

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