Tennessee Walking Horse
A complete guide to Tennessee Walking Horses
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Tennessee Walking Horses are famous for their calm disposition and smooth gait, making them a favorite breed for inexperienced pleasure riders and perfectly suited to trail riding. They have a four-legged galloping walk, unique among horse breeds, which makes them exceptionally comfortable to ride at slow speeds.
During the early 19th century, Tennessee-based horse breeders were looking to create an animal with the dexterity to navigate the region's hilly terrain while providing the rider with a comfortable experience. They started by crossing a Narragansett pacer with a Canadian pacer and continued to selectively breed the offspring. Thus, the Tennessee Walking Horse was born.
Tennessee Walking Horses are used for trail and pleasure riding and, like Clydesdales, figure prominently in parades, movies and television. They also participate in some show events.
Body Size: Most adults range from 15 to 17 hands high (hh; a "hand" being a unit of equine measurement equivalent to approximately 4 inches), though Tennessee Walking Horse breeders officially peg the range at 13.2 to 18 hh. The weight of a healthy adult is proportional to its height and should fall between 900 and 1,200 pounds.
Color and Patterns: Solid-color coats are usually black, chestnut brown, champagne, bay or sorrel. The roan coat variant is also relatively common, and some Tennessee Walking Horses also have pinto coat patterns.
Caring for a Tennessee Walking Horse
Feeding: Tennessee Walking Horses kept for pleasure riding should be fed twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. Diet should consist of roughage and mineral supplements, though grain horse feed may also be introduced if the animal has special dietary requirements due to its use in competitions or shows.
Grooming: All horses should have their hooves inspected daily to check for signs of foot infection or injury. Coat and mane grooming can be performed as needed, and bathing should be required only occasionally. Many horses live their whole lives without ever needing a bath, though show horses can be regularly treated with horse shampoo and other grooming products.
Health Problems: This breed is noted for being exceptionally healthy and displaying a high degree of stamina. However, abusive Tennessee Walking Horse breeders engage in soring, a practice which unnaturally alters the horse's gait and often causes walking problems later in the animal's life.
Life Expectancy: These horses live an average of 25 to 30 years.
Finding a Tennessee Walking Horse for Sale
Through a Tennessee Walking Horse association, it's generally easy to find a reputable vendor with Tennessee Walking Horses for sale. Look for a vendor who engages in ethical breeding practices. Rates vary according to the horse's pedigree and lineage. Animals may be available for as little as $900 or as much as $10,000 or more.