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Tennessee Walking Horses for Beginner Riders? A Guide.

Last updated: January 20, 2024

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

Did you know that the unique gait of Tennessee Walking Horses makes them an ideal choice for beginner riders? As someone who has spent years in the saddle, I’ve discovered that the journey into horseback riding can be daunting for beginners.

One thing my experience with horses has taught me is the importance of choosing the right horse when starting this journey. In this article, we’ll delve into why Tennessee Walking Horses, with their distinctive traits and temperaments, are often considered a top choice for those new to the equestrian world.

We’ll delve into how the smooth gait and gentle nature of Tennessee Walking Horses offer a comfortable and confidence-boosting start for novice riders. Whether you’re beginning your equestrian journey or helping someone else start theirs, understanding these horses’ suitability for beginners is crucial. Join me in uncovering why Tennessee Walking Horses might just be the ideal choice for new riders.

Tennessee Walking Horse4

Tennessee Walking Horse. Source: Just chaos, CC BY 2.0

Key Traits of Tennessee Walking Horses for Beginners

Gentle Temperament

Tennessee Walking Horses are known for their gentle temperament, making them ideal for beginners. Their calm and friendly nature provides a reassuring environment for new riders. This breed’s patience and steadiness help beginners feel more secure and less overwhelmed, fostering a positive learning experience. (1)


These horses are not just calm but also highly trainable. They respond well to commands and are eager to learn, which is beneficial for novice training. Their ability to adapt to new situations and respond positively to guidance makes them suitable for beginners who are still mastering the basics of horseback riding. Their eagerness to learn and responsiveness help in creating a rewarding and progressive training experience for new riders.

Tennessee Walking Horse1

Riding a Tennessee Walking Horse. Source: Just chaos, CC BY 2.0

The Gait Advantage for Beginners

One of the most distinctive features of Tennessee Walking Horses is their smooth gait. This breed is celebrated for its natural ability to move in a way that is both fluid and steady. For beginners, this translates to a more stable and comfortable ride. (3)

Unlike the bouncy trot of many horse breeds, the Tennessee Walking Horse’s gait is gentle on the rider, reducing the physical strain and making it easier to maintain balance. This smoothness is not just about comfort; it’s about providing a stable platform that helps new riders focus on learning other riding skills without being overwhelmed by the need to constantly adjust to the horse’s movements.

Impact on Learning Curve

The smooth gait of Tennessee Walking Horses has a significant impact on the learning curve for beginners. It makes the initial riding lessons less intimidating and more enjoyable. Beginners can often find the trot of other breeds challenging to sit through, which can be discouraging.

However, the even tempo and reduced bounce of the Tennessee Walking Horse’s gait mean that beginners can concentrate on developing their confidence, posture, and riding techniques without the added challenge of a rough ride. This can lead to a quicker and more enjoyable progression in their riding skills.


Tennessee Walking Horse Show. Source: Dan Dee Shots, CC BY 2.0

Safety and Comfort Considerations

Tennessee Walking Horses are renowned for their sure-footedness, a trait that significantly enhances safety for beginner riders. This sure-footedness means they are less likely to stumble or lose balance, which is particularly reassuring for those new to riding.

Additionally, their reliability is a key factor in providing a safer learning experience. Beginners can trust these horses to react calmly in various situations, reducing the risk of unexpected behaviors that might lead to accidents. This combination of stability and predictability makes Tennessee Walking Horses a safe choice for those just starting their equestrian journey.

Comfort for Long Rides

For beginners, long rides can be both a challenge and a delight. The smooth gait of Tennessee Walking Horses plays a crucial role in making these experiences more enjoyable. Their even and gentle stride allows for a comfortable ride, minimizing the fatigue and discomfort that can come from more jarring gaits.

In addition, their calm and patient temperament contributes to a relaxed atmosphere, making longer rides less daunting for beginners. This blend of physical comfort and mental ease helps new riders build endurance and enjoy their time in the saddle, fostering a deeper love for riding.

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

Instructional horse riding video.

Real Beginner Experiences

Many beginners have shared heartwarming stories about starting their riding journey with Tennessee Walking Horses. For instance, Sarah, a new rider, recalls her first ride on a Tennessee Walker named Daisy. Initially nervous, Sarah was amazed at how Daisy’s steady gait and gentle nature eased her anxiety.

She felt secure and in sync with the horse, a feeling she hadn’t experienced with other breeds. Another beginner, Tom, recounts how his Tennessee Walker, Jasper, seemed to understand his inexperience. Jasper’s patient demeanor and consistent responses to cues helped Tom gain confidence and improve his riding skills more rapidly than he expected.

My Experience with Tennessee Walking Horses

On trail rides, I often opt for an older Tennessee Walking Horse, known for its smooth stride and easy handling, ensuring a comfortable ride in the middle of the pack. In contrast, riding my friend’s dun Quarter horse mare is quite the task.

Her heavy gait and eagerness to lead require constant effort to manage. This stark difference becomes apparent when we swap horses mid-ride; the mare’s relentless pace and tendency to get unsettled demand continuous adjustment, making the ride more strenuous than enjoyable.

Such a demanding experience, with its need for constant control, can be overwhelming for beginners, who ideally should enjoy a relaxed and harmonious ride, not a struggle for balance and pace.

Tennessee Walking Horse3

Tennessee Walking Horse. Source: Just chaos, CC BY 2.0

Tips for Beginners Starting with Tennessee Walking Horses

When choosing a Tennessee Walking Horse, beginners should focus on specific traits to ensure a good match. Look for a horse with a calm and patient demeanor, as this will make your learning process smoother.

It’s also important to observe the horse’s gait; a consistent and even gait is preferable for beginners. Check the horse’s health and history, and opt for one that is well-adjusted to handling and basic commands. If possible, involve an experienced trainer or equestrian in the selection process to help assess the horse’s suitability for a beginner rider.

Early Training and Care Tips

For early training, start with basic commands and get comfortable with the horse’s responses. Focus on building a bond through gentle handling and consistent, positive reinforcement. Learn the basics of grooming and care, as this will not only keep your horse healthy but also strengthen your relationship.

Practice mounting, dismounting, and simple walking exercises to build your confidence. Remember, patience is key; progress at a pace that is comfortable for both you and the horse. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian and proper nutrition are essential to maintain the horse’s health and well-being.

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 is beneficial for 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 a range of riding disciplines. While they are popular for trail and pleasure riding due to their smooth gait and endurance, 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 stand out as a suitable choice for beginners due to their gentle temperament, smooth gait, and trainability. These key traits contribute to a safer and more comfortable learning experience.

Their sure-footedness and reliability enhance safety, while their temperament and gait make long rides enjoyable, even for novices. Real-life experiences from beginners underscore these benefits, showing how the breed’s characteristics can help overcome common riding challenges.

As you embark on your equestrian journey, it’s important to consider your personal needs and preferences. While Tennessee Walking Horses offer many advantages for beginners, the best choice will always be a horse that aligns with your individual goals, lifestyle, and personality.

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.