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Tennessee Walking Horses for Beginner Riders? A Guide.

Last updated: March 25, 2024

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

Having guided many new riders through their first steps, I’ve learned the significance the right horse can have on their confidence and progress. Among the various breeds I’ve worked with, Tennessee Walking Horses are an exceptional choice for those just starting out.

In this guide, we’ll explore the unique characteristics of Tennessee Walking Horses that make them so well-suited for novice riders. From their smooth, easy-to-ride gait to their calm and patient demeanor, these horses offer a supportive and enjoyable introduction to the world of riding.

Picture of a person riding a Palomino Tennessee Walking Horse.
Palomino Tennessee Walking Horse. Source: Just chaos, CC BY 2.0

Key Traits of Tennessee Walking Horses for Beginners

Gentle Nature: A Beginner’s Best Friend Most Tennessee Walking Horses have a gentle temperament, making them an excellent choice for beginners. Their calm and approachable demeanor creates a supportive environment for new riders, fostering confidence and a positive introduction to horseback riding.

This breed’s patience is particularly beneficial, helping beginners navigate their early riding experiences with ease. (1)

Eagerness to Learn: A Trainer’s Dream Not only are these horses calm, but they’re also known for their trainability. They exhibit a keenness to learn and a responsive nature to commands, which is incredibly encouraging for novice riders.

This adaptability and willingness to follow guidance make Tennessee Walking Horses ideal candidates for those just starting to master the basics of horseback riding.

Picture of a person riding a Tennessee Walking Horse in a paddock.
Riding a Tennessee Walking Horse. Source: Just chaos, CC BY 2.0

The Gait Advantage for Beginners

The Smooth Gait Advantage A standout feature of Tennessee Walking Horses is their uniquely smooth gait, which provides a stable and comfortable ride that’s particularly advantageous for beginners.

This fluid movement ensures a less jarring experience compared to the trot of other breeds, allowing new riders to focus on developing their skills rather than adjusting to the horse’s rhythm. (3)

Picture of a Tennessee Walking Horse competing in the Milton Horse Show.
Tennessee Walking Horse Show. Source: Dan Dee Shots, CC BY 2.0

Safety and Comfort Considerations

The sure-footedness of Tennessee Walking Horses adds an extra layer of safety for beginners, reducing the risk of stumbling and providing a secure riding experience. Their smooth gait not only enhances comfort on long rides but also contributes to an enjoyable journey, encouraging beginners to explore longer trails with confidence.

Here’s an instructional YouTube video on how to ride a Tennessee Walking Horse

YouTube video
Instructional horse riding video.

Real Beginner Experiences

Sarah chose a Tennessee Walker named Daisy for her first horse. She was initially nervous, but Daisy’s smooth movements and calm demeanor quickly put her at ease. Sarah moved in harmony with Daisy, a sensation she hadn’t felt with other horses.

Tom shares a similar story, with his Tennessee Walker, Jasper. Despite being new to riding, Tom felt Jasper seemed to know he was a beginner rider. The horse’s patience and responsiveness helped Tom build his confidence and skills faster than he expected.

My Experience with Tennessee Walking Horses

When it comes to long trail rides, I often choose an older Tennessee Walking Horse because of their smooth gait to ensure a comfortable ride. My choice became even more evident when comparing my horse with a friend’s Quarter horse mare.

The contrast was stark when we switched horses mid-ride; the mare’s brisk pace and skittishness required my constant attention, turning what should be a leisurely ride into a bit of a workout.

This experience underscores why Tennessee Walking Horses are a great choice for beginners. They offer a ride that’s more about enjoyment and less about exertion, allowing new riders to focus on the joy of riding and the bond with their horses rather than struggling for control.

Picture of a Tennessee Walking Horse tied to a horse trailer.
Tennessee Walking Horse. Source: Just chaos, CC BY 2.0

Tips for Beginners Starting with Tennessee Walking Horses

Owning a Tennessee Walking Horse is exciting, especially for beginners. From my years of experience, both as a horse owner and guiding newcomers, I’ve gathered some insights that will help you start off on the right hoof.

Selecting Your Horse

  • Temperament is Key: Look for a horse exhibiting a calm and patient nature. This trait is invaluable for beginners, making your learning experience more enjoyable and less stressful.
  • Smooth Gait: The Tennessee Walking Horse is renowned for its smooth, consistent gait. Opt for a horse that demonstrates this characteristic, as it’s easier for beginners to handle and more comfortable for long rides.
  • Health and Training: Ensure the horse is healthy, with a clear history of responding well to basic commands and human interaction. A pre-purchase examination by a veterinarian can provide peace of mind.

Building a Foundation

  • Start with the Basics: Familiarize yourself with your horse through basic commands and grooming. These activities not only help in maintaining your horse’s health but also foster a strong bond between you two.
  • Patience and Progress: Take your time with training, focusing on mounting, dismounting, and walking exercises. Progress at a comfortable pace for you and your horse, remembering that patience is crucial for a rewarding experience.

Healthcare and Nutrition

  • Regular Veterinary Care: Schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian to ensure your horse remains in optimal health.
  • Proper Nutrition: A balanced diet is essential. Consult with a nutritionist or vet to create a feeding plan that suits your horse’s needs.
Picture of a man riding a Tennessee Walking Horse.
Tennessee Walking Horse

FAQs on Tennessee Walking Horses for Beginners

What makes Tennessee Walking Horses suitable for beginner riders?

Tennessee Walking Horses are known for their gentle temperament and smooth gait, making them ideal for beginners. Their calm nature helps reduce anxiety for new riders, and their unique gait provides a stable and comfortable riding experience.

Are Tennessee Walking Horses easy to train?

Yes, Tennessee Walking Horses are known for their trainability. They are responsive and eager to learn, which benefits novice riders. Their willingness to follow commands and adapt to training makes them a great choice for those new to horseback riding.

Can Tennessee Walking Horses participate in various riding disciplines?

Yes, Tennessee Walking Horses are versatile and can participate in various riding disciplines. Due to their smooth gait and endurance, they are popular for trail and pleasure riding, but they can also be trained for show and competitive events.

How does the gait of a Tennessee Walking Horse differ from other breeds?

Tennessee Walking Horses have a distinctive four-beat gait known as the “running walk,” which is smoother and less jarring than the trots of many other horse breeds. This gait provides stability and comfort, making it easier for beginners to maintain balance and control.

Picture of a Tennessee Walking horse looking over a fence.
Tennessee Walking horse looking over a fence.


Tennessee Walking Horses are an excellent choice for beginners, blending a gentle temperament with remarkable trainability and a uniquely smooth gait. These characteristics not only facilitate a more pleasant learning experience but also contribute to a safer and more comfortable initiation into horseback riding.

Embarking on your equestrian journey is a personal adventure, and while Tennessee Walking Horses bring numerous benefits to the table for novices, the key is to find a horse that resonates with your specific aspirations, way of life, and character.

We’d love to hear from you! If you have experiences or stories about starting your riding journey with a Tennessee Walking Horse, please share them with us. Your insights can inspire and guide others who are considering this breed as their first step into the world of horseback riding.

Additional Beginner-Focused Resources

  • Beginner Riding Programs: Look for local equestrian centers that offer programs specifically for beginners. Many have Tennessee Walking Horses available for lessons.
  • Tennessee Walking Horse Trainers: Seek trainers experienced with this breed for personalized guidance. The National Walking Horse Association is a good resource.
  • Beginner-Friendly Equestrian Communities: Online forums and local equestrian clubs can provide support and advice. Websites like and local Facebook groups dedicated to Tennessee Walking Horses are great places to start.
  • Educational Materials: Books like “The Tennessee Walking Horse: An American Tradition” and websites such as offer valuable insights into the breed.
  • Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA):

Research studies:

  1. In exploring the rich history and development of the Tennessee Walking Horse, J. Lane Fletcher’s study, ‘A Study of the First Fifty Years of Tennessee Walking Horse Breeding,’ provides an insightful look into the breed’s early years. This research, published in the Journal of Heredity, delves into the breeding practices and genetic milestones that shaped the Tennessee Walking Horse. For a deeper understanding of this breed’s historical development, Fletcher’s study is an invaluable resource. Read the full article here.
  2. In the study “Genome-wide association mapping of heritable temperament variation in the Tennessee Walking Horse,” published in Genes, Brain and Behavior, researchers E.A. Staiger, J.D. Albright, and S.A. Brooks explores the genetic factors influencing temperament in Tennessee Walking Horses. Recognized for their calm and docile nature, this breed is often chosen for trail, show, and pleasure riding. For a detailed understanding of the genetic aspects of this breed’s temperament, the full study can be accessed here.
  3. Tennessee Walking Horse. In Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse (Second Edition). This article provides an in-depth look at the Tennessee Walking Horse’s history, physical characteristics, and the specific nature of its gaits, offering valuable insights for enthusiasts and professionals alike. For more detailed information on the Tennessee Walking Horse, visit ScienceDirect.

Remember, the journey into horseback riding is as rewarding as it is challenging, and the right horse can make all the difference in your riding experience.