youve been riding show walkers, not the big bodied real walkers. If he has narrow shoulders avoid like the plague if you are lookign for a smooth comfortable trail horse
Joe, about once in five times we agree. Respectfully I say ^^^this isn't one of them
My narrow built, Generator/show bred TWH has that champagne-smooth running walk people lust after and pay big bucks for. He is 16.1H and my toughest trail horse when the trails challenge him.
Even though he inherited a less-than-grade 1-club hoof from "The Old Man", I have only put shoes on him a handful of times in the 16+ years he's been with me. He just turned 19.
He has his personality quirks but he is extremely smooth to ride. I've had him on some narrow, drop off trails in Southern California that a lot of horses would have panicked about.
The guy in my avatar was also bred to be a Performance Walker and didn't make. He performs a stepping pace every bit as smooth as the 19 yr old, above, but it's obvious he is a broad built horse. He was 16 in the avatar, he will 26 in six weeks.
The really stocky 15.3H pleasure bred TWH will prefers to rack but he is also pretty smooth.
I lost a 5th TWH in a pasture accident, that was also show-bred and didn't "make". He was a strong Pusher horse. He had the most beautiful head bob at a running walk that anyone could ask for. He was just starting to make a great trail horse but I lost him as coming 4 yr old.
I have never had one bit of problem with my Walking Horses gaiting and being smooth- I must be one of the lucky ones, I guess.
If I were still trail riding, I would take a chance on a show-bred TWH any day but I've owned TWH's for 22 years and have been training my own horses for 54 years.
To the OP, as someone else commented, you can ride ten horses of the same breed and they will all feel a bit different -- body structure makes a huge difference in how the horse feels.
While there are shorter breeds that could carry your stature, being 6 feet tall, you need a horse that doesn't make you like a "elephant on a postage stamp" to coin one of my granddad's phrases
My thought would be to not get attracted to a really round horse with no withers because saddles have problems staying on horses built like that.
At six feet tall, I would not want to see you on anything shorter than 15.2H and that depends on how the horse is built.
Missouri Foxtrotter might be another gaited horse for consideration. I personally am not comfortable with their gait but that doesn't mean you wouldn't be About the Missouri Fox Trotter Horse Breed
If you're in SoCal, I honestly don't know how common Foxtrotters are out there, or gaited Morgans, as someone has mentioned.
You might stand a better chance finding a Tennessee Walker or even a gaited Appaloosa (a/k/a Indian Shuffler).
Hope this helps some