This is the ultimate trail horse-both a comfortable mount and a willing, loving companion. But there are several key things you should know about the Tennessee Walking Horse before you seal the deal.
When I say Walker gaits,” I mean the gaits they'll do as foals at their mother's sides or turned out in pasture or under saddle when they're comfortable and wearing ordinary tack. It's an even, level, four-beat gait, very soft and easy to sit--ideal if you'd like your horse to meander down the trail on a loose rein while you chat with your riding buddy.
You'll feel your horse's back move more, because the longer strides cause each hip to lift and drop with a little more emphasis. Because there's more effort and “reach” involved, you'll notice an increase in head-and-neck nodding.
(That is, at each stride, the hind foot oversteps the print of the forefoot on the same side). You'll feel your horse's hips dropping and lifting, and his back swinging; you'll see his head nodding.
It's a lateral gait (like the walk) but the front and hind leg on each side move together. Some riders find that pacing makes them feel seasick.
Similarly, you might find that your sore knees (or hips, or back) are more comfortable when you ride another gained breed, such as a Peruvian Pass or a Mangalore Machado. Try as many breeds and gaits as you can ; learn what makes your body most comfortable.
If you fall in love with the long smooth stride of one Walker, don't buy a different one, assuming that his movement will feel exactly the same. My old mare was tall and long-backed, with huge strides and a great deal of back movement; her half-sister was shorter and more compact with much less back movement.
You can 't sit or post the gait, so your only option is to ride it in a half-seat (or two-point position--standing in the stirrups and leaning forward slightly), which can be tiring. Jessica Jail, PhD (www.jessicajahiel.com) is an internationally recognized clinician and lecturer, and an award-winning author of books on horses, riding, and training.
I've always had 1/4 horses and have only done English equitation/ hunter jumper stuff. There has been a bit of wisdom lately about trotting walkers, it helps build up their back muscles and croup.
And yes walkers often make good athletes with a lot more style and comfort. I have seen them win at barrel racing, jumping, eventing, endurance and competitive trail.
I only have experience with the Tennessee Walker gait which is flat walk, rack or pace, canter and the full out gallop. Gained horses are much smoother to ride because you do not bounce about in your saddle, it's more like a rocking motion.
It's a little difficult to explain (for me) but the best way to completely know the difference would be to get to opportunity to ride a gained horse. Although many members of the breed can perform other gaits, including the trot, fox trot, rack, stepping pace, and single foot, these gaits are typically penalized in breed shows since they are not considered “correct” gaits for a Walking Horse.
The running walk is the most famous gait, with speeds from 6-12 mph. As the speed increases, the horse's rear foot over strides the front print 6-18 in.
The whole point of owning a gained horse for me is a smooth ride. My Tenn. Walker is allowed to canter and if he has been being ridden all day and is tired I'll let him do a little trot but he away's goes right back into his regular gait when I ask him too.
Colorant color permissibleDistinguishing featuresUnique running-walk, tall, long neck; calm disposition; long, straight headed standards Tennessee Walking Horse or Tennessee Walker is a breed of gained horse known for its unique four-beat running-walk and flashy movement. It was originally developed in the southern United States for use on farms and plantations.
It is a popular riding horse due to its calm disposition, smooth gaits and sure-footedness. The Tennessee Walking Horse is often seen in the show ring, but is also popular as a pleasure and trail riding horse using both English and Western equipment.
Tennessee Walkers are also seen in movies, television shows and other performances. In the early 21st century, this annual event has attracted considerable attention and controversy, because of efforts to prevent abuse of horses that was practiced to enhance their performance in the show ring.
The two basic categories of Tennessee Walking Horse show competition are called “flat-shod” and “performance”, distinguished by desired leg action. Flat-shod horses, wearing regular horseshoes, exhibit less exaggerated movement.
Performance horses are shod with built-up pads or “stacks”, along with other weighted action devices, creating the so-called “Big Lick” style. The United States Equestrian Federation and some breed organizations now prohibit the use of stacks and action devices at shows they sanction.
It prohibits the practice of scoring, abusive practices which can be used to enhance the Big Lick movement prized in the show ring. The controversy over continuing scoring practices has led to a split within the breed community, criminal charges against a number of individuals, and the creation of several breed organizations.
Exhibiting the typical long neck, sloping shoulder, and correct health modern Tennessee Walking Horse is described as “refined and elegant, yet solidly built”. The breed averages 14.3 to 17 hands (59 to 68 inches, 150 to 173 cm) high and 900 to 1,200 pounds (410 to 540 kg).
The shoulders and hip are long and sloping, with a short back and strong coupling. The hindquarters are of “moderate thickness and depth”, well-muscled, and it is acceptable for the hind legs to be slightly over-angulated, cow-hocked or sickle-hocked.
The Tennessee Walking Horse has a reputation for having a calm disposition and a naturally smooth riding gait. While the horses are famous for flashy movement, they are popular for trail and pleasure riding as well as show.
This is a four-beat gait with the same footfall pattern as a regular, or flat, walk, but significantly faster. In the running walk, the horse's rear feet overstep the prints of its front feet by 6 to 18 inches (15 to 46 centimeters), with a longer overstep being more prized in the Tennessee Walking Horse breed.
While performing the running walk, the horse nods its head in rhythm with its gait. Some members of the breed perform other variations of lateral ambling gaits, including the rack, stepping pace, fox trot and single-foot, which are allowable for pleasure riding but penalized in the show ring.
A few Tennessee Walking Horses can trot, and have a long, reaching stride. Hamiltonian 10, the foundation stallion of the family that produced Black Allan In 1886, Black Allan (later known as Allan F-1) was born.
By the stallion Allegory (from the Hamiltonian family of Standardized) and out of a Morgan mare named Maggie Marshall, he became the foundation sire of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. A failure as a trotting horse, due to his insistence on pacing, Black Allan was instead used for breeding.
From his line, a foal named Roan Allen was born in 1904. Able to perform several ambling gaits, Roan Allen became a successful show horse, and in turn sired several famous Tennessee Walking Horses.
It is the third most-common breed in Kentucky, behind the Thoroughbred and the American Quarter Horse. As of 2005, 450,000 horses have been registered over the life of the THEA, with annual registrations of 13,000–15,000 new foals.
While the Tennessee Walking Horse is most common in the southern and southeastern US, it is found throughout the country. The Lone Ranger's horse “Silver” was at times played by a Tennessee Walker.
“Trigger, Jr.”, the successor to the original Trigger made famous by Roy Rogers, was played by a Tennessee Walker named Allen's Gold Zephyr. The position of Traveler, mascot of the University of Southern California Trojans, was held at various times by a purebred Tennessee Walking Horse, and by a Tennessee Walker / Arabian cross.
The two basic categories of Tennessee Walking Horse show competition are called “flat-shod” and “performance”. Flat-shod horses compete in many disciplines under both western and English tack.
:19–20 At shows where both divisions are offered, the flat-shod “plantation pleasure” division is judged on brilliance and show presence of the horses while still being well-mannered, balanced, and manageable. 31 Flat-shod horses are shown in ordinary horseshoes, and are not allowed to use pads or action devices, though their hooves are sometimes trimmed to a slightly lower angle with more natural toe than seen on stock horse breeds.
Tennessee Walking Horses are typically shown with a long mane and tail. Performance horses, sometimes called “padded” or “built up”, exhibit flashy and animated gaits, lifting their forelegs high off the ground with each step.
This exaggerated action is sometimes called the “Big Lick”. The customary style for rider attire and tack is saddle seat.
Horses are shod in double and triple-nailed pads, which are sometimes called “stacks”. In the early 21st century, this form of shoeing is now prohibited at shows governed by the National Walking Horse Association (YWHA), :3 and the United States Equestrian Federation (USED).
Horses in western classes wear equipment similar to that used by other breeds in western pleasure classes, and exhibitors may not mix English and Western-style equipment. Riders must wear a hat or helmet in western classes.
Tennessee Walkers are also shown in both pleasure and fine harness driving classes, with grooming similar to the saddle seat horses. 31, 36, 43 In classes where horses are turned out in saddle seat equipment, it is typical for the horse to be shown in a single curb bit with a bit shank under 9.5 inches (24 cm), rather than the double bridle more common to other saddle seat breeds.
Riders wear typical saddle seat attire. Hats are not always mandatory, but use of safety helmets is allowed and ranges from strongly encouraged :9 to require in some pleasure division classes.
Built up pads, called “stacks”, held on by a band over the top of the hoof, are used in performance divisions This developed during the 1950s and became widespread in the 1960s, resulting in a public outcry against it.
Congress passed the Horse Protection Act in 1970, declaring the practice to be “cruel and inhumane”. The Act prohibits anyone from entering a scored horse into a show, sale, auction or exhibition, and prohibits drivers from transporting scored horses to a sale or show.
Congress delegated statutory responsibility for enforcement to the management of sales and horse shows, but placed administration of the act with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHID) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Violations of the HPA may result in criminal charges, fines and prison sentences.
The USDA certifies certain Horse Industry Organizations (His) to train and license Designated Qualified Persons (Dips) to complete inspections. APHID inspection teams, which include inspectors, investigators, and veterinary medical officers, also conduct unannounced inspections of some horse shows, and have the authority to revoke the license of a DSP who does not follow the standards of the Act.
“(3)(A) an irritating or blistering agent has been applied, internally or externally, by a person to any limb of a horse, (B) any burn, cut, or laceration has been inflicted by a person on any limb of a horse, (C) any tack, nail, screw, or chemical agent has been injected by a person into or used by a person on any limb of a horse, or (D) any other substance or device has been used by a person on any limb of a horse or a person has engaged in a practice involving a horse, and, as a result of such application, infliction, injection, use, or practice, such horse suffers, or can reasonably be expected to suffer, physical pain or distress, inflammation, or lameness when walking, Action devices, which remain legal but are often used in conjunction with illegal scoring practices, are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “any boot, collar, chain, roller, or other device which encircles or is placed upon the lower extremity of the leg of a horse in such a manner that it can either rotate around the leg, or slide up and down the leg to cause friction, or which can strike the hoof, coronet band or fetlock joint”.
Between 1978 and 1982, Auburn University conducted research as to the effect of applications of chemical and physical irritants to the legs of Tennessee Walking Horses. The study found that chains of any weight, used in combination with chemical scoring, produced lesions and pain in horses.
However, chains of 6 ounces or lighter, used on their own, produced no pain, tissue damage or thermographic changes. A “big lick” Tennessee Walker wearing legal action devices in 2013.
This horse passed strict USDA inspection to be allowed to compete. Scoring can be detected by observing the horse for lameness, assessing its stance and palpating the lower legs.
Some trainers trick inspectors by training horses not to react to the pain that palpation may cause, often by severely punishing the horse for flinching when the scored area is touched. Some trainers use topical anesthetics, which are timed to wear off before the horse goes into the show ring.
Pressure shoeing is also used, eliminating use of chemicals altogether. Trainers who is a sore their horses have been observed leaving the show grounds when they find that the more stringent federal inspection teams are present.
Although illegal under federal law for more than 40 years, scoring is still practiced; criminal charges have been filed against people who violate the Act. Enforcement of the HPA is difficult, due to limited inspection budgets and problems with lax enforcement by inspectors who are hired by the shows they were to police.
As a result, while in 1999 there were eight certified His, by 2010, only three organizations remained certified as His, all known to be actively working to end scoring. In 2013, legislation to amend and strengthen the HPA was introduced in Congress.
The President and executive committee of the THEA voted to support this legislation, but the full board of directors chose not to. Supporters included the American Horse Council, the American Veterinary Medical Association, members of the THEA, the International Walking Horse Association, and Friends of Sound Horses.
Opponents included members of the Performance Horse Show Association, and the Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture. In 2016, the USDA proposed new rules independent of the PAST Act, banning stacks and chains, and providing stricter inspections at training barns, auctions, and shows.
Showing with single curb show bridle and braided ribbons added to mane and forelock, typical of English classesControversies over shoeing rules, concerns about scoring, and the breed industry's compliance with the Horse Protection Act has resulted in the development of multiple governing organizations. The USED does not currently recognize or sanction any Tennessee Walking Horse shows.
In 2013, it banned the use of action devices and stacks at any time in any class. The Tennessee Walking Horse Heritage Society is a group dedicated to the preservation of the original Tennessee Walker bloodlines, mainly for use as trail and pleasure horses, rather than for showing.
Horses listed by the organization descend from the foundation bloodstock registered by the THEA. Pedigrees may not include horses that have been shown with stacks post-1976.
Two organizations have formed to promote the exhibition of flat-shod horses. The National Walking Horse Association (YWHA) promotes only naturally gained horses in its sanctioned horse shows, has its own rule book, and is the official USED affiliate organization for the breed.
The YWHA sanctions horse shows and licenses judges, :7, 23–26 and is an authorized HIS. The YWHA was in the process of building its own “tracking registry” to document both pedigree and performance achievements of horses recorded there.
However, the YWHA was sued by the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders & Exhibitors Association (THEA), which eventually won some concessions regarding the use of the THEA’s copyrighted registry certificates by the YWHA. It licenses judges for both pleasure classes and gained dressage, promotes use of gained horses in distance riding and sport horse activities, and is an authorized HIS.
Two organizations promulgate rules for horse shows in which action devices are allowed: the Walking Horse Owners Association (WHOA) and “S.H.O.W.” (“Sound horses, Honest judging, Objective inspections, Winning fairly”) which regulates the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.
The Celebration has been held in Shelbyville, Tennessee, each August since 1939. In the early 21st century, the Celebration has attracted large amounts of attention and controversy due to the concerns about violations of the Horse Protection Act.
Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association. ^ Meadows, Doyle; Whitaker, Dave; Baker, Randall; Osborne, Sis.
Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association. Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association.
Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association. The Official Horse Breeds Standards Guide: The Complete Guide to the Standards of All North American Equine Breed Associations.
Story's Illustrated Guide to 96 Horse Breeds of North America. ^ a b c “National Walking Horse Association Rules and Regulations” (PDF).
^ “Walking Horse Owners Association Official Rule book Pleasure Division” (PDF). CS1 main: unfit URL (link) ^ a b Tennessee Walking Horses: The Basics” (PDF).
Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitor's Association. ^ a b “Use of Action Devices and Performance Packages for Tennessee Walking Horses”.
^ a b “2013 United States Equestrian Federation Rule Book” (PDF). ^ “History of the Horse Protection Act” (PDF).
§ 1.11 ^ Profit, Ram C. “Thermographic in Diagnosis of Inflammatory Processes in Horses in Response to Various Chemical and Physical Factors” (PDF). “I Am Jose wins 2nd straight Walking Horse Celebration championship”.
“EQUUS Special Report: Why Scoring Persists”. “74th Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration ends, not controversy”.
“Injured walking horses will not be eligible for breeders incentive fund”. 1518, a bill to amend the Horse Protection Act”.
^ “Dear Friend of the Tennessee Walking Horse”. The Echo of Hoof beats: The History of the Tennessee Walking Horse.