Everything You Need to Know About the Tennessee Walking Horse

Posted by Allie Layos
Flickr/Joe Jaupt

The Tennessee Walking Horse is known for its unique running walk and even temperament. 

A gaited breed of horse that was developed in the Southern United States during the 18th century, the Tennessee Walker is still a modern-day favorite due to its even disposition and smooth gaits, such as the four-beat "running walk."

The running walk follows the same footfall pattern as a normal walk, but is much faster; instead of four to eight miles per hour, the running walk can reach up to 20. In the running walk, the horse's hind feet overstep the front feet by six to eighteen inches. This overstep is known as "stride," and prized among Tennessee Walker owners and trainers.

Originally bred for use on farms and plantations, the breed became the mount of choice for many Civil War generals because of its comfortable gaits. In fact, it is believed that Robert E. Lee's mount, Traveler, was part Tennessee Walker.

Today Tennessee Walkers are ridden both English and Western, and used as both show horses and pleasure mounts.

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General Appearance

The Tennessee Walker should be elegant but solidly built. It is a tall horse with a long neck and high set tail, and can mature anywhere from 14.3 to 17 hands. Tennessee Walkers generally weigh 900 to 1,200 pounds.


Tennessee Walkers have short backs and long, sloping shoulders. Most importantly, their bottom line is longer than their top line, allowing for the desired overstep or long stride. It is acceptable for the hind legs to be slightly over-angulated, cow-hocked or sickle-hocked.


A horse of any color, Tennessee Walkers range from the common chestnut and bay colors to duns, greys, and several pinto patterns including overo, sabino and tobiano.


The head of a Tennessee Walker is refined without appearing dainty, with short, well-placed ears and large eyes.


Tennessee Walkers are loved for their calm dispositions, and are known to be steady and amiable companions.


There are no breed-specific health problems for the Tennessee Walker, but, as with any pet, regular vet check-ups are encouraged.


Body image: Evening Shade Farm