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I know Tennessee Walking Horses are gaited horses that are comfortable for trail riding. But I was unsure if they were good horses for beginner riders, so I decided to research them to find out.
Generally, Tennessee Walking Horses are good beginner horses and have all the traits necessary to be an excellent choice for novice riders: they’re sure-footed, willing, have a smooth gait, and a calm temperament. But as with any animal, some may not conform to breed standards.
Tennessee Walking Horses may be best known for their smooth gaits, but there’s much more to this breed. They have a pleasant temperament and require less maintenance than other types of horses.
Tennessee Walking Horses are gentle-natured
The Tennessee Walking breed developed as an all-round family farm animal, used for riding, and plowing. Because of their gentle, affectionate, and intelligent nature, they often became part of the owner’s family.
Modern Tennessee Walking horses continue to make great companions; they are kind, gentle, quiet, peaceful, and are not easily spooked. Often they greet you at the fence and are ready to go for a ride.
It’s important to remember that horses are individuals with a unique past; some may have had bad experiences and don’t comply with standard breed temperaments. For this reason, always try a prospect before you buy it.
Good beginner horses have a calm temperament
An inexperienced rider needs a horse with a quiet disposition. A high strung horse could quickly derail new riders’ passion for horses. Horses are big, and sitting on their back is quite intimidating for people not used to horseback riding.
When my daughter was about nine, we went on a pretty rugged trail ride with a large group. She wasn’t a novice rider but not an expert either. Her horse spooked while crossing a creek and bolted.
Her athletic Quarter horse bound up the creek bank and darted through the woods. After a minute or two, we headed her off and was able to stop the horse. The horse’s actions were uncharacteristic and surprised all of us.
Events like this could scare someone enough to prevent them from ever getting on the back of a horse again. Luckily my daughter had ridden enough that this episode didn’t derail her from getting back in the saddle. But these are the situation you try to avoid.
Tennessee Walking Horses are willing learners.
Tennessee Walking Horses are willing to listen and learn, and not only do they enjoy training, but they also are a fun companion to learn with. Your first horse should be easy to guide and forgiving.
Because Tennessee Walking Horses are friendly, they are often easy to catch in the pasture and easy to handle. If you are considering a horse to purchase, test him under saddle.
Start with simple maneuvers, walk him, and then stop for a minute or two. You want to see if he stands calmly. Next, start walking again and turn him in each direction, and then ask him to back up. Be sure to ride him near objects, other horses, and people paying close attention to any reactions.
A good beginner horse should pay attention to your cues and be willing to move along when you ask it to move. It should get distracted easily, or be difficult to guide.
It is also essential that you saddle, bridle, and mount the horse, without any help. You want a horse that stands still and doesn’t move around or walk off when you put your foot in the saddle.
Good beginner horses are willing
A rider without much experience needs a horse that readily performs and wants to please his rider. When you ask the horse to turn or move along, he should respond appropriately.
Nothing is more discouraging than to ride a horse that doesn’t want to move or is continuously trying to head back to the barn. These hard-headed horses make horseback riding miserable for an inexperienced rider.
Experienced riders understand horses and can usually work through issues, but for a novice, it is very frustrating and puts a damper on their horse riding experience.
Tennessee Walking Horses are smooth riding
The most cherished characteristics of The Tennessee Walking Horse breed is its smooth gait. Their comfortable ride allows novice riders the ability to develop their riding skills and grow as a horseman.
The Tennessee Walking Horse is calm, willing, and athletic, these traits are desired by all equestrians, but they’re essential for persons just starting to ride horses.
Tennessee Walking Horses respond well under either a Western or English style saddle, and although they’re they have a calm demeanor, this doesn’t mean they aren’t quick and responsive, quite the opposite.
Tennesse Walking Horses are an athletic horse well-rounded horse that is perfect for a beginning rider. These horses are dependable and talented animals, and they don’t mind taking their owners on long and relaxing rides.
A good beginner horse should be comfortable to ride
Some horses have a good temperament and are willing horses, but are very uncomfortable to ride. On trail rides, I usually ride one of two older horses.
They are both pleasant to ride, and their stride keeps us in the middle of the pack; they handle easily and will pick up and go when asked. My friend, on the other hand, has a dun Quarter horse mare that pounds the ground with her feet and always pushes herself to the front of the pack.
Sometimes we swap horses in the middle of long trail rides, and the best word I have to describe the experience of riding his mare is “work,” without a break. The mares incessant pounding jolted me up and down nonstop, and I had to manipulate her continually, so we didn’t leave the other horses behind. I stayed on edge the entire time I rode the mare.
The mare would be the worst type for a novice rider, and although she responds precisely to leg cues, her pace is too fast for trail riding, she frustrates easily and is uncomfortable. Most novice riders would get discouraged riding a horse like this.
An inexperienced rider should be able to sit in the saddle and enjoy their horse, as opposed to riding with a death grip on the reins and legs squeezed against the horse.
Tennessee Walking Horses are sure-footed
Many people unfamiliar with riding gaited horses believe they are high-stepping and awkward. The opposite is true, not all gaited horses are high stepping, and most are sure-footed.
Tennessee Walking Horses provide a smooth seat and are also very adept stepping over logs, walking through water, and carrying riders smoothly over rough terrain.
Some horses, like some people, are naturally clumsy. They always stumble and trip over the smallest items. A beginner rider needs to avoid these types of horses.
We trail rode on Tennessee Walking Horses through some of the worst conditions and never had one that wasn’t up to the challenge.
Tennessee Walking Horses are great for beginners
As I stated earlier, all horses are individuals. Still, you can generalize about breeds: Belgians are strong, Thoroughbreds are fast, Arabians are high strung, and Tennessee Walking Horses are excellent horses for beginners.
Not every horse will fit the breed profile, so you still need to do your evaluation, but generalizations give you a good starting point.