Originally known as the ‘Tennessee Pacer’ because of its unique pacing gait, the Tennessee Walking Horse as it is now known originated in the state of Tennessee from a handful of different breeds.
It is generally believed that the Tennessee Walking Horse began taking shape from 1790 onwards, when the Narragansett Pacer (its prime descendent) was first brought to Kentucky and later crossed with the Spanish Mustang, another gaited breed. Besides these two horses, the Standardbred, Thoroughbred and Morgan Horse are also thought to have contributed to the bloodline.
Plantation owners in the south needed a horse with endurance and strength that could be ridden all day over difficult terrain, withstanding the gruelling climate, to help them manage and inspect the work that was happening on their plantation properties.
From this need came the Tennessee Walking Horse. Although it was originally used for this purpose as well as for trail and pleasure riding, it is now widely seen in horse show events, demonstrating its distinctive gaits in competition.
Typically, the breed is solid and well-defined in colours of bay, chestnut, black and several pinto and roan varieties. The Tennessee Walking Horse boasts an average height of 15-17 hands.
Since 2000, the Tennessee Walking Horse has been the official state horse of native Tennessee.