Most important for a Tennessee Walking horse is a smooth natural gait that will carry you all day. This gait is inbred and is exhibited from birth. Horses range from 14-17 hands and in all colors. The neck comes out from the center of the shoulder and is arched for the horse to do it's characteristic head nod. The shoulder has a long oblique angle with a short forearm for length in stride. Pastern is long and approximately at a 45 degree angle. Back is short for a longer over stride in gait. Hind legs are well muscled so that the horse may push off the rear and is angled to let the horse step deeply under it's body, 4-8 inches over stride is common.
WHAT IS A TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE?
Gaited horses were developed to give the plantation owners of the South a smooth comfortable ride between rows of crops in a minimum of time, covering 40-50 miles in a day. This breed was developed from various early American horses. The Thoroughbred contributed its' stamina, the Morgan its' compact body, the Saddlebred its' refinement of easy riding, and the Narragansett Pacer and Standardbred their gaits. This breed development started around the time of the Revolutionary War.
Allen, F-1, was the founding stallion of the Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH) breed in 1935. His sire was a trotting horse named Allandoff and his dam a Morgan, named Maggie Marshall. Because of his differing gait he was not successful in either of these registries. He refused to trot: he paced. Today the breed has developed to meet the needs of diverse groups of riders. In the East the Tennessee Walking horse is renowned for it's show presence, but 90% of the owners of Tennessee Walkers use their mounts for pleasure riding. From the diversity of riders and their styles the Versatility Program came to being. The Versatility Program is a showcase for the flat-shod Tennessee Walking Horse. It has 20 different events in which to participate. Remembrnaces Fireman was entered into this program with his previous owner and received the award of "Supreme Versatility Champion."
Tennessee Walking horses are ridden in three distinct gaits: the flat walk, running walk, and rocking horse canter. The running walk has the speed of a trot but the foot fall pattern is four beat. This is not to say the Tennessee Walking Horse cannot exhibit other gaits. Today, the padded show horse is bred to pace. This gait is exaggerated by the addition of pads and weighted shoes to show this animal in a high stepping running walk. The other intermediate gait that a Tennessee Walking horse can exhibit is a rack. Like Allen, F-1, they seldom trot! Many of these intermediate gaits are much smoother than a trot.
Today, it is acknowledged that two stallions have made the most important contributions to our breed over the last 50 years. These two stallions were "Merry Go Boy" and "Midnight Sun". Both were multiyear World Grand Champions (WGC). Midnight Sun became WGC in 1945 and 1946. The following years (1947 & 1948) he was defeated by his rival Merry Go Boy. Midnight Sun has proven to be the most potent sire of the pleasure and show horses in the breed. They both are traced back to Allen, F-1 through Roan Allen and Wilson's Allen. This is evidenced in the bloodlines we have on our ranch. The stallions we stand each have six world grand champions on their papers. And our mares vary from 8 to 3 WGC on their pedigrees.
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