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.
A few fun facts:
ihearthorses.com tells us a few fun facts about the Walking Horse and what this breed is famous for,
"According to their Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association (TWHBEA), the breed is made of Narragansett Pacer, Canadian Pacer, Standardbred, Thoroughbred, Morgan and American Saddlebred. The Narragansett is believed to be the first horse breed ever developed in the United States, but is now extinct."
Also, the stud book has been closed since 1947, meaning every single horse bred since then must have two registered parents in order to be eligible for registration.
And a lot of famous horses were played by Tennessee Walking Horses! One of the horse's that replaced the original "Trigger" (Roy Roger's Horse) was by a Tennessee Walker named Allen's Gold Zephyr aka "Trigger Jr." The Lone Ranger's "Silver" was also played by a Tennessee Walker and the mascot of the University of Southern California Trojans, Traveler, was once held by a horse of Tennessee Walker bloodlines. They're a popular parade horse as you can imagine.
If you're a big fan and live in the south, the historic Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville, TN is home to The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, which takes place each year in late summer for the 11 days ending on the Saturday night before Labor Day.
"The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' & Exhibitors' Association (abbreviated TWHBEA) is the oldest breed association for the Tennessee Walking Horse. It was founded in 1935 and is headquartered in Lewisburg, Tennessee."
So if you need a resource for Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders than this is the organization to reach out to with questions.
Known for their incredible gaits, a finely chiseled head, large eyes, short, erect ears, short back and a long neck you should try trail riding this breed of horse. They're also used in the show ring and a popular breed at horse shows. Many members of this breed can perform the foxtrot!
But... "You must find the gaited horse that's best for you," explains experts at the MajesticRider.com. This breed can be on the hotter side!
The Tennessee Walker is the official horse of the state of Tennessee and third most common horse in Kentucky.
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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