TENNESSEE WALKING HORSES
Over 150 yrs ago in America, there was a need for a new breed of horse to be developed.One that would cover ground with speed, but mostly be gentle on the rider. In the southern states, in particular Tennessee, these horses were developed for the plantation owners. Since plantations covered a huge amount of property, the owners had much to oversee. Being gentleman, they particularly favored non-trotting horses as their choice of mount. Hence the smooth gaited horse became quite popular. This breed was developed by the intermixing of Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, American Saddlebreds, and Morgans. This mixture resulted in what was then called the "Walking Saddle Horse" or "Plantation Horse". We now know them as the “Tennessee Walking Horse". These horses were recognized for their smooth, non-trotting gait and incredible speed, in which they could cover a lot of ground.
By 1935, Tennessee Walking Horses became a recognized breed. They average 15 hands (one hand being 4 inches) to over 16 hands. They are short-backed with sloping rears, back hoofs thatcan overshoot their front legs, angled shoulders and have a famous head nod. Many people viewed these horses as animals of poor confirmation, when in fact, they are not! They come in a range of colours including unusual colours such as champagne, cremello, and perlino.They also come in solid colours and in a range of pinto-marked colours, (ie tobiano, overo, sabino, and roans). True breeders refer to these as "Spotted Horses"! These horses are not only beautiful animals but highly intelligent, affectionate, and very loyal. They are especially noted for their calm, sensible personality, which when in a tough situation often saves them from panicking.
Their famous gaits start with a flat footed walk, a running walk (which consists of a fast gait and even faster gait!!) and finally a lovely comfortable rocking-horse canter. In films, particularly 1950’s Westerns, they were the horse of choice. In movies, a rider such as Roy Rogers (who was constantly filmed up-close playing his guitar while riding) could be filmed in the frame while in a gait. By keeping the actor in the camera frame, this smooth gait would enable the cameraman standing in the moving truck to produce better pictures! One of Roy Roger’s horses, Trigger Jr.(aka Allen’s Gold Zephyr) became one of the most famous movie horses of all time and was a registered Tennessee Walking Horse.
Today’s, Tennessee Walking Horse is mainly used for pleasure trail riding and endurance. Many people in their forties and upwards now enjoy the horse’s wonderfully smooth ride instead of having to post at a trot. People with knee or back injuries can still ride in comfort without having to give up their favourite past time. Young people also are delighted by the horse’s unique gaits and very smooth canter. We, at Spring Gait Meadows, are proud to promote these fine horses to people interested in learning about their wonderful gaits.
At Spring Gait Meadows we offer Basic Horsemanship lessons. Basic Horsemanship focuses on the art of understanding a horse’s behaviour so the rider and horse can ride and move as a team. BasicHorsemanship also concentrates on the principles of grooming, saddling and riding your horse.
We do a lot of work on the ground with you and your horse so there is a respectful bonding relationship before you even get in the saddle. This enables you to feel more in tune with your horse. Our goal is to have you ride in your comfort zone and bring out the best of your abilities while having a lot of fun.
If you are looking for a farm that competes, sorry we are not that! Our focus is on people who want to learn about gaited horses and have a fun time socializing with a wonderful group of riders. Due to a growing concern about back and knee injuries, we are finding more and more adults, 40 years and upwards, are interested in Tennessee Walking Horses. Small children (up to 65 pounds) are offered the same horsemanship programs with our miniatures.