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Defintion of Gaited

A horse that performs a foot fall pattern outside the normal walk, trot, jog, canter, or lope is gaited. If a horse single foots, ambles, paces, tolts, or does a running walk or rack it is ‘gaited’.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tennessee Walking Horse

The Tennessee Walking Horse, or Tennessee Walker, is without a doubt the best known of all the gaited horse breeds throughout the world. This breed has also had an enormous impact on the development of most of the USA gaited breeds, including the Racking Horse, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse, the Spotted Saddle Horse, and various other regional breeds of gaited horse. Indeed, if one looked at the pedigrees of these other breeds, they would find a large number of famous Tennessee Walking Horse names.

Dating back to the early 19th century, the Walking Horse is another old American breed. They were an all purpose horse used by farmers to plow the fields, pull the family buggy to church on Sunday, and used as a general riding horse where they excelled.

They were also used in the days of the old southern plantations, where they provided a reliable and comfortable means of covering the large plantations, and were steady enough to ride through the fields, without damaging the crops. With his flat foot walk, running walk, and "rocking chair" canter, this horse was and still is a good, comfortable, and reliable ride.

During the War Between the States, Union General Ulysses S. Grant "confiscated" some of the Tennessee "pacing horses", as he put it, for his own use during and after the siege of Vicksburg.

It is a popular riding horse due to its calm disposition, smooth gaits and surefootedness. The Tennessee Walking Horse is often seen in the show ring, but is also popular as a pleasure and trail riding horse using both English and Western equipment.

The breed first developed when Narragansett Pacers (a now extinct breed) and Canadian Pacers from the eastern United States were crossed with gaited Spanish Mustangs from Texas. Other breeds, including the Morgan Horse, the Thoroughbred, The Standardbred, and the American Saddlebred were later added, and in 1886 a foal named Black Allen, now considered the foundation sire of the breed, was born.

In 1935 the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' Association was formed, and the studbook was closed in 1947. In 1939, the first Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration was held, and is still held annually

They are found in all solid colors, and several pinto patterns. Common colors such as bay, black and chestnut are found, as are colors such as the dun, champagne, cream and silver dapple. Pinto patterns include overo, sabino and tobiano.

The Tennessee Walking Horse has a reputation for having a calm disposition and a naturally smooth riding gait. While the horses are famous for flashy movement, they are popular for trail and pleasure riding as well as show.

The Tennessee Walking Horse is best known for its "running walk". This is a four-beat gait with the same footfall pattern as a regular, or flat walk, but significantly faster. While a horse performing a flat walk moves at 4 to 8 miles per hour, the running walk allows the same horse to travel at 7 to 10 miles per hour. In the running walk, the horse's rear feet overstep the prints of its front feet by 6 to 18 inches, with the longer overstep being more prized in the horse. The horse nods it's head in rhythm with the gait when performing the running walk. Besides the flat and running walks, the third main gait performed by Tennessee Walking Horses is the "rocking chair" canter. Some Tennessee Walking Horses also perform the rack, stepping pace, fox trot and single-foot, which are allowable for pleasure riding but penalized in the show ring.

For more information, visit the web site of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association.

Below is a video of a naturally gaited Tennessee Walking Horse.

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