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Should You Buy A Tennessee Walking Horse? Let’s Find Out!

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During a recent trail ride, our neighbor rode his new Tennessee Walking Horse. I’ve been looking at a Quarter horse to add to our stable, but after watching my neighbors Tennessee Walking Horse, I’m reconsidering.

Tennessee Walking Horses are great all-around horses. They have a good temperament, are sturdy and reliable. They are best known for their style of walking, and comfortable ride, but there is much more to Tennessee Walkers.

The Tennessee Walking Horse’s gait is just one of many desirable traits of this breed. There are plenty of other qualities of a Tennessee Walking horse that make them a preferred horse breed by all horsemen.

Tennessee Walking Horses are good for beginner riders.

Tennessee Walking Horses are the right choice of horse for the beginner rider. These horses are known for their naturally calm disposition and desire to please their owner.

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They’ve been bred to exhibit the best traits of quarter horses, thoroughbreds, and standardbred horses. The result of this mixture is the Tennessee Walking Horse, a horse that is calm, willing, and athletic, traits desired in a horse for any level of rider.

But especially important to a person without much experience horseback riding, is having a horse with a calm demeanor. A high strung or spooky horse could derail a new riders’ enthusiasm for riding pretty quickly.

Tennessee Walking Horses don’t spook easily.

Horses are large animals, and sitting on their back is quite scary for someone not used to horseback riding. It is common to be in a group of horses and one person’s horse to spook or act up.

When this happens, a beginner rider needs to be on a horse with a steady disposition and one that won’t get excited. Tennessee Walking Horses don’t spook easily.

For your first horse, you need one a willing learner and a horse that wants to please his rider. It is very discouraging to ride a horse that won’t turn or turns when you don’t ask him to turn.

Tennessee Walking Horses are willing learners.

Some horses can be as stubborn as a mule. Hard-headed horses make horseback riding miserable for an inexperienced rider. Experienced riders also get frustrated, but they understand what is happening and try to work it out of a horse.

For less experienced riders, this type of activity is very frustrating and can discourage riding altogether. Tennessee Walking Horses want to please their rider and are willing learners.

Tennessee Walking Horses are athletic.

An inexperienced rider should have a horse with athletic ability, even if they don’t have the experience to showcase it right away. With an athletic horse, a new rider can bond and grow with his horse.

Too often, people purchase horses that are too old or too slow, and riders quickly surpass the ability of their horse. With a Tennesse Walking Horse, a new owner can develop their riding skills and push themselves as their skills develop.

Tennessee Walking Horses are ideal for any level of rider.

Tennessee Walking Horses are ideal for any level of rider, and they make lovely family horses. The Tennessee Walking horse is a calm, friendly, social, horse with a laid back attitude.

These animals make great companions. They socialize well with people, are willing to train, and are enjoyable to work with. These are all essential traits for a beginner’s horse.

Overall, these horses are dependable and talented animals, and they don’t mind taking their owners on long and relaxing rides.

Tennessee Walking Horses are tall.

While riding a Tennessee Walking Horse through the woods I found myself constantly ducking limbs I typically travel under with ease on our Quater horses.

Avoiding the limbs made me realize that Tennessee Walking Horses are a tall breed. The average height of a Tennessee Walking Horse is 16 hands, however, they range from 14.3 to 17 hands tall.

A fit Tennessee Walking Horse weighs between 900 and 1,200 pounds. This is a standard weight for similiar breeds.

Tennessee Walking Horse comes in a variety of colors.

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association accepts over twenty colors for registration. The most common colors are chestnut, bay, and gray.

However, it’s not unusual to see palomino, buckskin, roan, and even spotted registered Tennessee Walking Horses.

Tennessee Walking Horses have an athletic build.

Tennessee walking horses’ body exudes equine athleticism. They have a long neck and short back, sloping shoulders, and hips. They also have thick well-muscled hindquarters and bottom-line longer than the top line.

These are classic conformation traits when evaluating a horses athletic potential. In conjuction with an athletic body they have an attractive head with small ears.

Tennessee Walking Horse’s are sure-footed.

Tennessee Walking Horse average 16 hands in height. The horses have an excellent calm disposition and are gaited. (click here to read about another gaited breed, Paso Fino).

Tennessee Walking horses originated in the southern United States as a farm horse. But they quickly became the horse of choice for a variety of equine uses.

Their smooth gait and sure-foot make them one of the best horse breeds for pleasure and trail riding. And they work just as well under either a Western or English style saddle.

Although they are comfortable to ride, don’t be fooled because they can be quite quick. The Tennesse Walker is a well-rounded horse with a pleasant calm head, and he is perfect for a beginning rider.

Is a Tennessee Walking Horse Gaited?

When I watched my neighbors horse travel I noticed it covered ground smoothly. I wondered if his smooth walking style was because Tennessee Walking Horses are gaited, I wasn’t sure so I decided to do some research.

Tennessee Walking Horses are gaited. A gaited horses’ feet hit the ground individually, meaning it always has one foot on the ground. Because it continuously keeps a foot on the ground, the horse travels smoothly.

Gaited travel transfers weight efficiently, thereby using less energy to travel the same distance by horses that aren’t gaited. The footfall of a gaited horse is four beats with the feet hitting the ground in the following order: right rear, right front, left rear, left front.

Each foot falls individually. The footfall should sound like 1234, 1234, 1234, and be in rhythm. When watching a gaited horse travel, the legs on one side will move forward at the same time, and the rear foot hits the ground just before the forefoot.

Gaited horses are smooth even when they increase their pace.

A gaited horse’s feet hit the ground similar to a horse walking normally. However, a gaited horse continues with his smooth motion when his speed goes up a notch. A horse that is not gaited will move into a trot, a very rough bouncy ride.

A gaited horse can pick up his speed and continue the same foot motion as a horse walking. Gaited horses can travel up to 20 miles per hour and keep this form, faster than most horses trot.

Gaited horses are natural; there is a genetic factor that creates the ability to travel in a gait. Gaits have different names: flat walk, rack, running walk, and saddle gait, to name a few. To read more about the gaited horses click here to read our article on the Paso Fino horse breed.

Tennessee Walking Horses are versatile.

The Tennessee Walking Horse is used in shows, trail-riding, and Endurance riding. The show competitions they excel in are English riding and the saddle seat.

Tennessee Walking Horses compete under English saddle.

English riding encompasses many equestrian disciplines. However, the common thread is that riders use both hands on the reins and ride a flat English saddle.

Riders rise and bounce to the trot of their horse in rhythm with the horse’s strides. The most popular forms of English riding competitions are dressage, show jumping, and horseracing.

Tennessee Walking horses exhibit in saddle Seat competitions.

Saddle Seat competitions show off the high stepping and extravagant gaits of a horse. It is a sub-category of English riding.

The Tennessee Walkers exhibit in three groups of saddle seat competitions: Flat shod, Plantation Pleasure, and Performance. Each class asks for different variations of the gaits, extended gaits, and any specialized gaits.

Tennessee Walking Horses compete in endurance riding.

Endurance riding is a racing competition of horse and rider traveling over a long distance. The race involves the completion of phases of the total race distance.

As a team completes a stage, the horse is checked to ensure it is physically fit to continue to the next step of the race. The Tevis cup is one of the most prestigious endurance races.

It is a 100-mile race that follows the Western States Trail. Tennessee Walking Horses have proved to be competitive participants in endurance racing.

If you want to learn more about Tennessee Walking Horses’ endurance events, you can check out this website for the Tennessee Walking Horse Association Endurance division.

Tennessee Walking Horses are excellent trail riding horses.

Trail riding is a fun activity enjoyed throughout the world. It doesn’t have to be any more than you and your horse taking a short ride through the local paths near your house.

Or it can be a multi-day trip in a rugged National Forest with a group of friends. Whatever the extent of the trail ride, a Tennessee Walking Horse will be up for the task. They are surefooted and can carry a rider with the best of horses

Tennessee Walking Horses are a mix of breeds.

Tennessee Walking Horses evolved in the Southeastern U.S. mountains. To create this excellent breed took time and crossbreeding many different kinds of horses.

The foundation horse of the Tennessee Walking Horse is the Tennessee Pacer. It was a surefooted workhorse with a smooth gait. The following three breeds were crossbred to create the Tennessee Pacer:

Narragansett Pacers was the first U.S. horse breed.

The Narragansett pacer is the earliest breed developed in the United States. It became extinct in the 19th century. The cross used to create the breed is not known precisely but is believed to be a mix of English and Spanish breeds.

They were desired horses and owned by famous some people such as George Washington. The characteristics of the breed, gaited, sure-footed, and easy to work with.

Canadian Pacers originated in France.

The Canadian Pacer descended from horses sent to Canada by Louis XIV in the 17th century. Canadian Pacers have balanced muscle, a high-set tail, and an arching neck.

They are durable and easy to maintain. They are often used as draft horses, trail riding horses or working stock. Canadian Pacers have a distinct flashy trotting style.

Gaited Spanish Mustang has excellent endurance.

The gaited Spanish Mustang arrived in the United States with the Spanish Conquistadors and made their way to Texas. Spanish mustangs have well-balanced bodies, deep girths, smooth muscling with distinct withers.

The gaited Spanish Mustang is a hardy breed of horse and has excellent endurance.

Morgans contributed to Tennessee Walking Horses.

Through years of crossbreeding the Tennessee Pacer with the American Saddlebred, Thoroughbred, and Morgan breeds the near-perfect equine, the Tennessee Walking Horse was created.

The Tennessee Walking Horse has three primary gaits.

The Tennessee Walking Horse is known for three gaits they are the 1)flat foot walk, 2) running walk, 3) and canter. There are other gaits the Tennessee Walking Horse does exhibit but are less known and not used in shows. Gaits such as the stepping pace provide a smooth and comfortable ride.

Flat foot walk

In a flat foot gait, the Tennessee Walking Horse travels 4-8 miles per hour. The horse’s feet must hit the ground separately at regular intervals. This action is referred to as a four-cornered gait.

The back feet will pass over the track left by the horse’s corresponding front foot. The movement of stepping over the front foot track is called overstride.

While performing the Flat foot walk, the Tennessee Walking Horse will nod his head in rhythm with his feet. The ability to overstride and nod their head are unique features of the Tennessee Walking Horse.

The Running Walk

The running walk is the gait most commonly associated with the Tennessee Walking Horse. This gait is a flat walk gait performed at a higher speed. In a running walk gait, the Tennessee Walking Horse will travel at speeds up to 20 miles per hour.

As the horse increases speed, he also increases the distance of his back foot over-step. Some over-steps will reach measurements of 18 inches. Riders feel like they are gliding through the air when riding a Tennessee Walking Horse performing the walk-run gait.


The canter gait is a gallop. The Tennessee Walking Horse is trained to perform this gait in a relaxed fashion and a specific lead. The lead determines the footfall order and diagonal direction the horse will travel.

When a canter is performed correctly, the front end comes up and goes down in rhythm. The movement is executed in a smooth motion with lots of spring.

The rider of a well-performing Tennessee Walking Horse in cantor is that of sitting in a rocking chair. This movement is referred to as the “rocking chair” gait.

Tennessee Walking Horse starts training early.

Tennessee Walking Horses usually start their training at a young age. While still a weanling they are halter broken and as yearlings lunged and driven. During these early years, they are handled often, washed, clipped, and feet trimmed.

These early activities with young horses create an essential bond between man and animal. Because of their early exposure to lunging and driving, they usually handle being saddled for the first time reasonably well. Once you begin riding, take your time with your horse.

Try to keep the horse at a steady flat foot walk. Continue this method of riding until the horse is loose and comfortable. All horses are individuals, and the time it takes to develop will differ between horses. Know your horse, and he will let you know when he is ready to step up his training.

Soring of Tennessee Walking Horses Illegal.

Soring is illegal in the United States for use on any horse. Soring is the use of any device or substance that causes pain to a horse’s front feet and legs when they hit the ground.

The pain caused to the horse results in him lifting his legs quicker and higher off the ground than they would do naturally. The United States Congress recognized this practice as abuse of the animal and passed the Horse Protection Act of 1970 to prohibit soring.

Persons caught soring horses are subject to both civil penalties and criminal prosecution. Tennessee Walking Horses were the most affected by the enactment of the Horse Protection Act of 1970.

The use of soring was widespread in the world of showing Tennessee Walking Horses. The desire to win still overrides the fear of jail time for some horse owners and trainers who continue to sore their horses. Federal investigators continue to pursue and catch violators of the Horse Protection Act of 1970 today.

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