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Articles > Dogs

The Traditional and Modern Role Of The Tennessee Walking Horse

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Tags: Tennessee Walking Horse, Breeding, Show

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The original role of the Tennessee Walking Horse was to provide a comfortable mode of transportation for the tobacco plantation owners in the southern United States. Although this role was ideal for the Tennessee Walking Horse and its smooth gait, these horses were also used as driving and harness horses for taking the family back and forth to town as well as driving in areas where roads were developed. The appearance and gaited stride of the Tennessee Walking Horse made it an ideal breed for both of these tasks; although there is no doubt that they were most famous as a smooth and comfortable riding horse. Originally there were only a small number of Tennessee Walking Horses available but the legend soon spread from plantation owner to owner about the fast running walk of the breed and its ability to cover large distances in a short amount of time without any of the discomfort of the non-gaited horses.

Once the Tennessee Walking Horse became a more popular breed and many of the plantations were divided into smaller farms, the Tennessee Walking Horse was also used as a general farm horse. They could be used for plowing the light soil of the area and their temperament and easy going nature made them a perfect all round horse for a smaller farmer. This added use of the horse did not detract from the breed as farmers took great pride in their horses and used them in local shows, races and events. Emphasis was placed on breeding in the gait and the size of the horse while minimizing any temperament problems that have been problematic in some of the horse breeds that were used exclusively for one type of activity. In 1935 the stud book was opened for the breed and was closed in 1947 prohibiting the use of any unregistered mares or stallions to produce Walkers.

In more modern times the Tennessee Walking Horse is used mostly for shows and pleasure riding, although some are still used as driving and general use horses. In today's Tennessee Walking Horse, especially those in shows, the emphasis is placed on a long, elevated or exaggerated type of movement known as the 'big lick". This movement is the crowd pleasing action that helped to promote the Tennessee Walking Horse to the popular show horse it now is. Unfortunately many unscrupulous trainers turned to horribly abusive measures to get the horses to enhance their natural movement and now training methods that cause pain, known as soring, are officially illegal under the 1970 Horse Protection Act.

Tennessee Walking Horses are also used as trail horses and western pleasure riding horses. They are popular in English events and are often shown in saddle seat competitions. Some Tennessee Walking Horses are also used in basic level dressage competitions and makes an excellent show horse for younger riders and even children. The modern Tennessee Walking Horse is a good all round horse for riders that are looking for a reliable, dependable and enthusiastic horse that is smooth, gentle and comfortable to ride.


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The Traditional and Modern Role Of The Tennessee Walking Horse
 
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