Tennessee Walking Horse
The Tennessee Walker originated from the Narragansett Pacer and the Canadian Pacer in the late 18th century. Tennessee breeders were working toward a horse which could be ridden comfortably all day over the varied terrain of the large plantations. Confederate Pacer and Union Trotter blood was added during the Civil War, creating the sturdy Southern Plantation Horse (aka the Tennessee Pacer). Breeders later added Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Morgan, and American Saddlebred blood to refine and add stamina to their gaited horse.
In 1885, Black Allen (later known as Allan F-1) was born. By the stallion Allendorf (from the Hambletonian family of Standardbreds) and out of a Morgan mare named Maggie Marshall, he became the foundation sire of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed.
The breed became popular due to its smooth gaits and incredible stamina. It was common for farmers to hold match races with their Tennessee Walkers, which they also used for plowing fields. Even after the coming of the automobile, many Tennessee communities kept their Tennessee Walkers to manage the poor roads of the area. Tennessee Walking Horses began to gain a reputation as a showy animals, and breeders sought bloodlines to produce refined, intelligent, flashy horses.
The registry was formed in 1935. As the stud book was closed in 1947, since that date every Tennessee Walker must have both parents registered to be eligible for registration.
The Tennessee Walker is used for horse show events, particularly under saddle seat-style English riding equipment, but is also a very popular trail riding horse, both in Western riding equipment as well as English. They are seen in endurance riding and their number has increased over the years.
The breed is a popular parade horse, and has been used in television, movies and other performing events. For example, 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 which was also a Tennessee Walker. The position of mascot of the University of Southern California Trojans, Traveler, was once held by a horse of Tennessee Walker bloodlines.
Tennessee Walking Horses are known for their ambling gaits: the running walk, the flat walk, and for their gentle, "rocking horse" canter. 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 Tennessee Walking Horse. The running walk is the most famous gait, with speeds from 10–20 km/h (6-12 mph). As the speed increases, the horse's rear foot overstrides the front print 15–45 cm (6–18 in). The greater the overstride, the better a "walker" the horse is said to be. The horse nods its head in both the running and the flat walk, the ears swinging with the gait. Some Walkers click their teeth with the gait.
This breed tends to be on the hotter side of gaited horses. Due to the breeding for stamina and for being flashy. They are gentle and sweet but bred to work for many hours daily. They are great family horses, as everyone can ride them in the same day! When you ride one that gaits well, then you will understand why they call it the glide ride. They have the largest over reach of the gaited horses, but each horse is different due to their breeding.
The ones with the shorter stride and not as much of a running walk, but more toward the step pace or fox trot, will be more surefooted on very steep trails and less trippy.
The ones with large over reach will do better on flat surfaces, rolling hills and occasional steep hills. The horses with large reach in the front will be very smooth but can also be trippy on trails that have roots and rocks exposed. So before choosing one, be aware of the trails you will ride most of the time.
Also think about how much you will ride weekly. A horse bred to have high stamina may not do well with occasional weekend riding. You may want to choose one that is more on the lazy side.
Tennessee Walking Horses are my favorite, but I like to go fast and I like to ride for long periods of time. I do not enjoy lazy horses.
I recommend you find the right gaited horse for what you want to do and not just look at one breed. Each gaited horse is different even gaited horses of the same breed but they are all wonderful horses. So first figure out what you can handle and where you are going to ride and then start trying some different gaited horses to see what suits you best.