The Tennessee Walking Horse
by Laura Kidder of Cloud 9 Walkers
Photos courtesy Adventures in Owning A TWH

Tennessee Walking Horse photography
Click here for Tennessee Walking Horse Photos

"To Ride One Is to Own One"

Looking for a particular breed of horse which is naturally docile, known for good, calm dispositions, smooth to ride and easy to handle? All your research will point you to the Tennessee Walking Horse. I get lots of calls from people who haven't had a horse in their lives since they were teens, or never had one at all, empty-nesters, people who have more time on their hands due to a change in career, marital status, family status, and/or even health status! Doctors who have any horse knowledge at all consistently refer people with back problems (who don't want to give up their riding) to gaited horses, especially the Tennessee Walking Horses.

Imagine having the sweetest-natured horse, a boost for your confidence, and at the same time, never bouncing in the saddle! No posting, no jarring -- just "smooth sailing".

"Jazzy", TWH filly. She is only one week old in this video, and demonstrating the smooth gait, as they all do the minute they stand up for the first time.

The Tennessee Walking Horse is renowned for his ability to perform a smooth, 4-beat lateral gait, similar to other breeds of horses, except more quickly timed, and they're BORN that way! Yes, the first steps they take are "gaited steps" -- no training or devices needed. The Tennessee Walking Horse performs three distinct gaits: the flat foot walk, running walk, and canter. The horse glides over the track left by the front foot with the hind foot, which is known as 'overstride'. A true-gaited Tennessee Walker will nod his head in rhythm with the cadence of his feet, and sometimes flop their ears with each nod. Most walking horses are capable of performing a regular slow walk like any other breed, a "flat walk" (the first gait), a "running walk" (the 2nd gait, which can be as fast as 10 mph) and then the canter. Walking horses are also known for their beautiful 'carousel' canters, rising and falling slowing and smoothly. Other gaits that can be performed by some Walkers are the pace (which is undesirable because it's rough), the rack, the foxtrot, and the single-foot.

Did you know?
The elephant is the only other animal which is born performing the "running walk", naturally!

This light breed of pleasure horse was bred to work in the fields during the week, especially to ride the turn rows on the plantations in the south, but be a smooth ride on the weekends for pleasure. A fusion of Thoroughbreds, Canadian Pacers, Saddlebreds, Morgans, American Standardbreds and Narragansett Pacers, this docile servant evolved in the middle Tennessee bluegrass region, and therefore christened the "Tennessee Walking Horse". The Tennessee Walker's size ranges from 14H to 17H, with the average being from 15H to 15.2H. From the 1930's, this gentle breed was known for having rather large, coarse heads, but through the years, especially due to the influence of "Pride of Midnight", a son of the 1945, 1946 World Grand Champion "Midnight Sun". We believe the beautiful head began with him, and most Walkers today are much more refined and pretty than their ancestors. Colors are almost limited to your imagination! Walkers are black, sorrel, chestnut, grey, roan, bay, buckskin, champagne, palomino, cremello and spotted (sabino, tobiano and overo).

Did you know?
Photo of the Lone ranger's Silver, a Tennessee Walking horse. Trigger was a tennessee walking horse!

"Trigger", ridden by Roy Rogers, was a Tennessee Walking Horse.
The Lone Ranger's "Silver" was also a TWH!

A common ridiculous notion held by many people not familiar with this gentle breed is that they do not run, or if you do run them, you "mess up" their gaits. NOT TRUE! (Watch the old Roy Rogers movies!) We show these versatile horses in English pleasure classes, Western pleasure classes, basic reining, trail obstacle, driving, fences, water glass (a fun class to show off how smooth your horse is), and even barrels and poles. Now, if you're looking for a serious competitive barrel or pole horse, you're not going to buy a Tennessee Walker -- they're bred for pleasure, but that's not to say they cannot compete. They are simply not bred for bursts of speed, but they are capable of running the patterns and running them fast. We have a National Versatility Program ( for more information) in which we compete in a wide range of these types of classes, showcasing the breed's versatility. (Click here to see our own National Supreme Versatility Champion.) You're not going to buy a Walking Horse for rodeo competition, roping calves, cutting or running steers, but that's not to say that they cannot do it!

You're going to buy a Tennessee Walking Horse to fall in love, to have a furry, loveable equine friend, to become addicted to the glide ride, experiencing the controlled power of a horse in ultimate comfort, and best of all, you'll buy a Tennessee Walking horse for much-needed stress relief therapy!

Article by Laura Kidder of Cloud 9 Walkers
Photos courtesy Adventures in Owning A TWH



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