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Horse Resources Horse

Tennessee Walker Horses

Ht. 14.3 to 17hh
Color: All colors and all patterns including black, bay, chestnut, palomino, buckskin, roan and spotted patterns.

In the mid 1800's, settlers in Tennessee needed a horse that was agile enough to handle the rocky terrain and had the stamina to go all day. More important than speed, it needed to have smooth gaits to carry their rider comfortably for miles while he was overseeing work on the plantation. By combining the best traits of the Narragansett and Canadian Pacer, Standardbred, Thoroughbred, Morgan, and American Saddlebred, they came up with what was originally known as Southern Plantation Walking Horses or Tennessee Pacers. Today we know them as Tennessee Walking Horses or just plain Tennessee Walkers.

Even after the coming of the automobile, Tennessee communities kept their Walkers to manage the poor roads of the area. The Walkers began to gain a reputation as a showy animal, and breeders sought bloodlines to produce refined, intelligent, flashy horses.

The registry was formed in 1935. The stud book was closed in 1947, so every Walker after that date has to have both parents registered to be registered themselves.


The Tennessee Walking Horse has a reputation for having a very good disposition. It's a calm and easygoing breed that is typically easy to train. The Walker is typically a larger boned horse than its close cousin, the American Saddlebred. It has a long neck and sloping shoulder. The head is traditionally large but refined with small, well-placed ears. The horse has a fairly short back, short strong coupling, and an elongated stride. In the show arena, Walking horses are usually shown with long manes and tails.

The Tennessee Walking Horse has three gaits; the flat walk, the running walk (it's predominant feature) and the "rocking chair" canter. Both the walks are four-beated, with the horse's head nodding in time to the movement. Some Walkers even click their teeth with the gait. All gaits are inherited and tend to be "bounce free", making them an extremely comfortable ride.

At the running walk, the horse can maintain a speed of 6-9mph for a considerable distance or reach speeds up to 15mph at a sprint. The Tennessee Walking Horse has great stamina, with many horses working long after the age of 20


The Tennessee Walker enjoys great popularity in the show ring, competing in Model, English, Saddle Seat, and Western classes. They are also successfully used for driving, jumping, and western style gaming competitions. In fact, classes at the annual show in Shelbyville, Tennessee attract more entries than any other American horse show.

There are two main categories of competition: performance horses and flat shod.

  • The flat shod horses can compete in trail pleasure, country pleasure, light shod, and plantation. They are judged on their way of going, which includes head nod, overstride and front animation. The trail pleasure classes have the least animation, the plantation horses the most, with the plantation horses often wearing a heavier shoe.
  • Performance horses exhibit a very flashy and animated running walk, often referred to as "big lick." They appear to sit on their hind ends, lifting their front end high off the ground. Riders wear saddle seat attire and tack. Horses are shod in double and triple-nailed pads. These pads, along with lightweight chains around the fetlock, accentuate the gaits, making them more showy.

    In addition to showing, the Walker is surprisingly suitable for ranch work. Its natural agility makes it an excellent reining and cutting horse. The breed's docile temperament and intelligence also earned it a place 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 was also a Walker, and the mascot of the University of Southern California Trojans, Traveler, was at one time a horse of Tennessee Walker bloodlines.

    The versatile Tennessee Walking Horse is a terrific, all around family horse. Their inherently kind nature and smooth gaits making them especially suited for timid riders, beginners, or as part of handicapped rider programs. The Tennessee Walking Horse is also a popular trail horse because of its comfortable gaits and many riders with back problems turn to the Walker as a way to continue to enjoy riding. Considering the breed's easy ride, companionship, and dependability, Tennessee Walking Horse owners find that the satisfaction they receive far outweighs the price of ownership.