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Home > Horses > Tennessee Walking Horse: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Tennessee Walking Horse: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Tennessee Walking Horse

The Tennessee Walking Horse tells a bit of their story just through their name. They originated in Tennessee and are famous for their smooth running walk. Various horse breeds went into creating this beautiful horse, but they have made a name of their own and quickly become a favorite among horse enthusiasts.

Here are more interesting facts and traits about the Tennessee Walking Horse so you can see for yourself why they’re so popular.

Breed Overview

Care Level Moderate
Temperature All climates
Temperament Gentle, obedient, easy to handle
Colors Bay, black, brown, champagne, chestnut, cremello, dun, gray, palomino, pinto, roan, sorrel, tobiano
Lifespan 28–33 years
Weight 1,000–1,200 lbs (stallion), 900–1,100 lbs (mares)
Height 14.2–15 hands (stallions), 15–17 hands (mares)

The Tennessee Walker is an obedient and gentle horse that is quite easy to train and only needs light handling. They are also affectionate, intelligent, and calm and among the best breeds to own, even for beginners. But the most famous characteristic of the Tennessee Walker is their smooth walk.

Tennessee Walking Horse Characteristics



What Are Tennessee Walking Horses Used For?

The Tennessee Walking Horse is used in quite a variety of avenues. They started as horses used for daily work on a farm, but today, they are used for show ring, performance, and pleasure riding.

They are also excellent for trail riding and are used as harness horses and for reining, Western events, dressage, jumping, and therapeutic riding. Due to their calm and gentle nature—and that famous smooth gait—they are perfect for seniors, children, and novices for riding.

red roan Tennessee walking horse running
Image by: aleigha blakley, Shutterstock

Where Did These Horses Originate From?

The Tennessee Walker comes from central Tennessee in the late 19th century. A stallion by the name of Black Allan was produced by crossing a Morgan mare with a Hambletonian Trotter.

From there, Black Allan was bred with Tennessee Pacer mares, along with Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds, Narragansett, and Canadian Pacers. All these breeds provided a few of their best traits to form the Tennessee Walker.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Tennessee Walking Horse

The Tennessee Walking Horse is an obedient and gentle breed that is quite easy to handle. They are also intelligent, dependable, and affectionate and tend to have quiet dispositions.

While the temperament of any horse depends on how they are raised and treated, the Tennessee Walker can be the perfect horse for almost everyone.

Appearance & Varieties

tennessee walking horse
Image by: WLen, Shutterstock

The Tennessee Walker averages around 15.2 hands and has a long, graceful neck and a head that is carried high. They have small, pointed ears, gentle eyes, a strong back, and long sloping shoulders and hips. They also have long, slender, yet strong legs, and their manes and tails are typically left long and flowing.

Tennessee Walkers come in most solid colors and pinto patterns, with the more common colors being:

  • Bay: Light to dark brown body with black mane, tail, and legs
  • Champagne: Pale to dark golden body with flaxen tail and mane
  • Chestnut: Light gold to dark brown-reddish coat
  • Cremello: Cream body with white tail and mane
  • Palomino: Golden body with white mane and tail
  • Roan: Dark coat with intermixed white hairs
  • Sorrel: Chestnut body with pale mane and tail
  • Tobiano: Solid-colored body with vertical white spots and white legs (the most common type of pinto)

horse shoe divider

Things to Know When Owning a Tennessee Walking Horse

Habitat & Stable Requirements 🌾

You can choose to keep your Tennessee Walker at home if you have the space or can board your horse. Your horse will receive as much care as you request, ranging from feeding to being ridden.

Even if you have already owned horses and feel that you can easily care for a large horse and have the time and commitment for them, you’ll still need to ensure that you have things ready.

Horses need shelter to protect them from weather extremes, particularly sun, wind, and precipitation. You can opt for indoor stalls or run-in sheds if your horses live outside at all times.

Ensure that the shelter has appropriate ventilation by leaving the barn doors and windows open, and on cold days, blanket your horse rather than close up the barn tight.

tennessee walking horse_Shutterstock_Smeerjewegproducties
Image Credit: Smeerjewegproducties, Shutterstock

Food & Diet Requirements 🥕

These large horses should eat about 1% of their body weight in the pasture or hay every day. If you spend a great deal of time exercising and working your horse, you’ll want to consider adding calorie-dense grains to their diet. So, a horse that works about 2 to 4 hours in a day will need approximately 15 to 20 pounds of hay and an additional 3 to 8 pounds of grain.

They also need access to clean water at all times. The average-sized horse will drink 5 to 15 gallons of water daily.

Exercise 🐎

A great way to exercise the Tennessee Walker is to turn them out if you have a nicely sized pasture. The pasture helps ensure that they move around while they graze, though they are more likely to do this when they are with other horses.

You can also ride them daily or try lunging and leading in hand. But turning your horse out daily for the day with other horses is the best way to ensure that they are fulfilling their exercise needs.

Training 🐴

Tennessee Walking Horses are easy to train due to their intelligence and willing dispositions. They are perfect horses for children and seniors and from beginners to advanced riders. The Tennessee Walker’s smooth gait also makes them a pleasure to ride. That said, the first order of business is gait training.

tenessee walking horse in the field
Image by: Mohit Chouhan95, Shutterstock

Grooming 🧽

Like most horses, Tennessee Walkers need daily grooming. Concentrate on their girth, legs, face, and saddle area before a ride, and give them a quick once-over after the ride too. This also helps distribute sweat and natural oils, which is particularly important in the summer.

You can use a detangler and waterless shampoo to help clean, condition, and detangle their mane and tail, particularly in the winter.

Lifespan & Health Conditions 🏥

The Tennessee Walking Horse is a healthy breed with a long lifespan of 28 to 33 years. But like most horses, there’s always the chance of health problems.

Minor Conditions
  • Congenital stationary night blindness
Serious Conditions
  • Cervical vertebral compressive myelopathy
  • Polysaccharide storage myopathy


Male vs Female

The male Tennessee Walking Horse (stallion) is typically larger than the female (mare). There might also be a difference in temperament, but this depends on the individual horse.

Generally speaking, stallions aren’t ideal for beginners because they can be somewhat temperamental, aggressive, and almost arrogant.

Mares are wonderful choices for beginners, but something to keep in mind is that when they’re experiencing their heat cycles, mares can be moodier than usual.

A gelding (castrated stallion) makes a better choice than the stallion, and they aren’t as likely to be as moody as a mare. But it still depends on the individual horse’s temperament.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Tennessee Walking Horse

1. Tennessee Walkers are among the most popular breeds in the U.S.

The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ Association was formed in 1935 and is known today as the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. As of 2022, it has 240,745 living registered horses, with 538,901 registered since 1935. This breed can be found across all 50 states and at least 29 other countries.

2. The Tennessee Walker is the state horse of Tennessee.

In 2000, the Tennessee Walking Horse was named the official state horse of Tennessee. Every year, Shelbyville, Tennessee, has the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, with over 2,000 horses usually competing.

3. The Tennessee Walking Horse was made famous by Roy Rogers.

Roy Roger’s famous horse, Trigger, was a cross between a Thoroughbred and a Tennessee Walker. Tigger was eventually replaced by Trigger Jr., a Tennessee Walker originally named Allen’s Gold Zephyr.


Final Thoughts

Tennessee Walking Horses are suitable for almost any task. They were originally bred for light farm work, driving, and riding. They then became popular with people like country doctors and traveling preachers, who needed to travel on horseback for hours. Basically, this horse can do just about anything. They are also perfect for novices and experts and for children and adults.

We hope that you decide that the Tennessee Walking Horse is ideal for you and your circumstances. You certainly won’t regret bringing one of these horses into your life!

Featured Image Credit: SusImage, Shutterstock

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