Tennessee Walking Horse

The Tennessee walking horse, also known as the Tennessee walker, is a breed of gaited horse that was developed in the state of Tennessee in America. It was developed in 1790, when Canadian pacers and Narragansett Pacers were crossbred with American mustangs. The resulting horse was one with a smooth gait that was able to perform variety of tasks. Later, other breeds were introduced into the bloodline including Morgan horses, Thoroughbred horses, and American saddlebred horses. The foundation stallion for the breed was born in 1886, although he could not display a trotting gait. The breed registry was established in 1935 under the name of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ Association, but this name was changed to the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association in 1974.

The Tennessee walking horse reaches an average height between 14.2 and 17 hands and has an elegant yet solid conformation. Its long neck supports a proportionate head with small ears and it has strong hindquarters. The breed standard allows for horses of any solid color, as well as those with pinto patterns, but some of the most common colors include bay, black, chestnut, dun, overo, silver dapple, and tobiano. This breed has a calm temperament and is known for its ability to display various gaits. The main gait it performs is the running walk, which is a four beat gait that holds that same pattern as a normal walking gait but allows the horse to move considerably faster. Other gaits this breed performs includes the canter and some ambling gaits.

Because the Tennessee walking horse is capable of performing a variety of gaits, it is used in many equestrian events including English riding, trail riding, Western riding, and endurance riding. This breed, among other gaited breeds, is protected by the Horse Protection Act of 1970, which bans the inhumane use of abusive practices in shows and training, the most controversial of which is known as soring. Disagreements about these practices have led to the establishment of multiple breed associations and governing organizations. Some of these groups support horse shows while others focus on the preservation of the breed.

Image Caption: A flat shod Tennessee Walking Horse. Credit: Just chaos/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)