The blood lines of the Tennessee Walking Horse represent most of the breeds and families of horses known to early America and Canada. Shortly after 1790 when Tennessee was permanently settled by immigrants, these individual bloodlines came to the central portion of Tennessee where the slow process of unification began. History discloses that “it is the purpose of which a horse is intended that begets a breed”. And therefore, for the reason of utility, the Tennessee Walking Horse evolved. The people who carefully developed the breeding patterns which resulted in the Walking Horse were not trained geneticists but farmers endowed with determination, proficiency and patience. The Walking Horse bears the blood of four distinct breeds; the Thoroughbred, Standardbred American Saddle Horse and the Morgan. With exception of the Thoroughbred, behind these distinct breeds is the influential blood of the Narragansett and Canadian Pacer. This horse was first used for riding, driving and farm work and has long beenassociated closely with man.
As stated in the ‘Echo of Hoofbeats’ Dr. Bob Womack claims that “there is quite an irony in the fact that pleasure Walking Horses are making an impact on Canadian horse stock, since it was from Canada that the breed received its major thrust. Without exception, authorities on Walking horses have attributed this horse’s eventual development to the Canadian Pacer”.
The Tennessee Walking Horse is reputed for its gentle disposition and kindly manner and to this day continues to demonstrate itself as one of the most versatile horses anywhere. The disciplines it excels at include pleasure, endurance and trail riding; ranching; gymkana; English, Western and Plantation equitation; field dog trailing; driving; and side-saddle; thus truly distinguishing it as:
“A HORSE FOR ALL REASONS”
THE TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE
This member of the light breeds of the equine family is no mystery horse nor is there anything of magic or difficulty in understanding his makeup. However, the agreeable temperament of the Tennessee Walking Horse, together with the smooth and easy gaits he performs, has caused him to be of great wonder and subsequently in much demand.The Tennessee Walking Horse is one of man’s grandest achievements in all the centuries of selective breeding of horses. The natural gaits of this horse, especially his running walk and canter, have to be one of the most agreeable riding experiences ever encountered.
This horse is a triumph of selective breeding and will always be renowned for its ability to provide a comfortable ground covering ride that one can sit all day with ease.
The Tennessee Walking Horse is generally well-boned, deep chested and short-coupled giving an overall impression of balance with legs, neck, back and head in proportionto the size and shape of the body. Greater anglation of the hind legs, which is not seen in other breeds, is acceptable. They are often noted to be sickle hocked because they are designed to move well under themselves.Their head should have an intelligent look be well shaped, have alert eyes, a tapered muzzle and pointed ears that are clean looking and wide set. Their hooves are in proportion to the size of the horse, The mature horse may range in size from 14.2 to 16.2 hands high with some horses being slightly over or under.
The Walking Horse has no limitation as to color or markings. The myriad of coat colors include black, bay, roan, palomino, buckskin, dun, chestnut, sorrel, grey, overo and tobiano.
It is typical of the Walking Horse to move straight, placing his feet in line without winging or weaving in motion. There should be no pace, wobble or sway. Most horses demonstrate a lot of shoulder motion and a good horse reaches out with fore legs and pushes powerfully with hind legs. His general appearance will be that of strength and looseness. When good cadence is achieved in the famous ‘running walk’, the Walking
The Tennessee Walking Horse is a multi-gaited horse although it is noted for three exceptional gaits: the flat walk, the running walk (the predominant feature) and the high, smooth rocking-chair canter. Both ‘Walking’ gaits are a 1-2-3-4 beat with the horse’s feet hitting the ground separately at regular intervals (left fore, right hind, right fore, and then left hind). The predominant running walk and unique rocking-chair canter are inherited and it is unlikely that these gaits can be taught to any other breed. In doing the running walk, most Walking Horses over-reach. That is to say, they over-stride and place the hind foot ahead of the print of the fore foot. A specific length of over-reach is not necessary to a good gait but some is desirable.. In the running walk, speeds of 6-9 mph (10-15 kmh) can be maintained over considerable distance. The running walk results in a smooth gliding motion allowing the horse to cover great distances with a minimum expenditure of energy.
In Canada, horses may be registered with the Canadian Registry of the Tennessee Walking Horse located in Ottawa. The original registry of the Tennessee Walking Horse is that of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association in Lewisburg, Tennessee. Many Tennessee Walking Horses are registered in either or both registries and regardless of registry, all horses are recognized as having the same founding sire, Allan F-1, foaled in 1886.