The Tennessee Walking Horse Breed


Tennessee Walking Horse Breed Description

Height 15 to 16 hands high
Temperament This is an exceptionally kind breed, with a gentle disposition and docile temperament.
Colour Black and solid colours are the most popular, but there are no limitations as to colour or markings.
Head and Neck The head is fairly large and quite plain. The neck is very strong and arched.
Limbs The limbs are clean, hard, strong with good bone.
Body The horse is close coupled and robust. The shoulders are sloping and the back is short. The hindquarters are muscular and strong, and the croup slopes. The tail may be artificially set to be carried high.
Action The gaits of the horse include the flat walk, running walk, and rocking chair canter. The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association describes them as follows: 

  • The flat foot walk, running walk and canter are natural, inherited gaits and can easily be recognized from the time a young foal starts to amble beside its mother, with rhythmic coordination of legs, head and body movement.
  • The flat walk and the famed unique running walk are both basic, loose, four-cornered gaits, a 1-2-3-4 beat with each of the horse’s hooves hitting the ground separately at regular intervals – first the left front, then the right rear, the right front, followed by the left rear. As he moves, his head will nod in rhythm with the regular rise and fall of his hooves, overstriding with his hind foot the track left by his front foot – left rear over left front, right rear over right front. In general, he should travel in a straight, direct motion, never winging, crossing or swinging.
  • The flat walk should be loose, bold and square with plenty of shoulder motion. The running walk should also be executed with loose ease of movement, pulling with the fore feet, pushing and driving with the hind.
  • There should be noticeable difference in the rate of speed between the flat walk and the running walk. But a good running walk should never allow proper form to be sacrificed for excessive speed.
  • The rocking chair canter is a high rolling collected gallop with distinct head motion, chin tucked and in a smooth collected movement.

Tennessee Walking Horse Breed History

The Tennessee Walking Horse came into being because plantation owners of the early settling days of the United States needed a type of horse that was useful for farm work, transportation and recreation. Plantation owners and overseers also used horses to tour their large estates and inspect the fields, so it was desirable to develop a horse that possessed a splendidly smooth ride, and the agility to wind through the rows of crops without injuring plants. The main foundation stock used to develop the Tennessee Walking Horse were the Narraganset Pacers and Canadian Pacers, which were popular, lateral-gaited horses. Thoroughbred, Morgan, Saddlebred and Standardbred horses were thrown into the mix.

The most influential sire in the creation of the breed was Black Allan (later known as Allan F-1), who was foaled in 1886. His sire was a Standardbred named Allendorf, and his dam was a Morgan mare named Maggie Marshall. Black Allan was a failure as a trotter because of his peculiar walking pace, which he passed onto the entire Tennessee Walking Horse breed. In 1914, the stallion Giovanni was to mix his American Saddlebred blood with the Walker, and his best contribution was to add refinement and quality to the breed.

The Tennessee Walking Horse is very versatile, and can be ridden English, Western and plantation style, and it can also be driven. Because of its quiet temperament, it is highly trainable, and suitable for beginning and experienced riders.

The best feature of the Tennessee Walking Horse is its unique and natural gaits, which are the flat walk, the running walk and the rocking chair canter. No other breed can perform these particular gaits, which the Tennessee Walking Horse is born with. Because of these easy gaits, and docile temperament, a rider can stay comfortably in the saddle for long stretches of time.

One Response to The Tennessee Walking Horse Breed

  1. Kathy Jo Cropper says:

    im a hard workin college student that loves horses so most of my essays that i have to type end up bein about my favorite breed of horse the tennesse walker i enjoyed this web sight very much it was most helpful in my researching. thank you:)

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