The Tennessee Walking Horse is one of the unique, American groups of gaited horses. Its origins, like those of the American Saddlebred and the Missouri Fox Trotter, are in the southern states, all of which have their roots in early Spanish stock. The Walker evolved in nineteenth century Tennessee as a practical horse that could carry its owner in comfort for hours while inspecting crops on the plantations.
The breed traces back to the old Narragansett Pacer of Rhode Island. It evolved as a mix of the Standardbred Black Allan, who came from a line of trotters (not pacers) out of a Morgan mare. As a harness racer, Black Allan was a failure because of his peculiar walking pace, a characteristic that has now won his descendants wide acclaim. The Walker is noted for three exceptional gaits: the flat walk, the famous running walk (the predominant feature) and the high, smooth, rocking-chair canter. All are said to be "bounce-free". In addition, the breed has a most amiable disposition and has the reputation of being the most reassuring horse for a novice or a nervous rider
The plain, rather large head is carried much lower than that of the American Saddlebred, and the Walker moves with a much less elevated action. The breed is large-boned, deep and short-coupled, with a square appearance to the barrel. It does not have the refinement of the American Saddlebred. In general, it is a plain horse esteemed for its character and unique gaits rather than for its looks. The horse's tail is grown long and is usually nicked and high-set. The quarters are strong and, in movement, the hind legs are brought well under the body. The limbs are powerful, though not outstanding in terms of conformational correctness. The hind shoes have elongated heels to accentuate the gliding movement. Shoeing is critical to the Walker's unique pace. However, recent legislation limits abusive shoeing and soring for enhanced movement. Flat-shod Plantation Walkers display the running walk natural to the breed. There is no ruling on color but black and other solid colors are the most popular. The height of the Walker is 15-16hh.
Reference: The Ultimate Horse Book; Elwyn Hartley Edwards; 1991
The Tennessee Walking Horse
WHOA - Walking Horse Owner's Association
Background picture courtesy of Blue Moon Walking Horses
Reference picture courtesy of Tenn-Walker.com
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