Which, to me, is ironic. . .because it's the "Big Lick" which has done so much to encourage breeding of horses that lacked the natural talent to make them competitive against true Walking Horses.
And what's more, Big Lick has made the TWH breed a freak show to the general public and most importantly, other horse owners. If someone says Tennessee Walking Horse, what comes to mind? Big Lick and soring. It gives the whole breed a bad name. Which is so sad, because I'm convinced the horses are good.
It's kind of like pit bulls. I know there are probably some very nice pit bulls in the world, but when you hear "pit bull" what do you think of? Dog fights? Gangs? Attacking people and killing other animals? That is similar to what people think of when they hear Tennessee Walking Horse. Abuse, big lick, soring! Even other horse owners are turned off by the bad reputation of the TWH industry. Which is such a shame, because I believe the horses are good. I don't know why they don't promote themselves as the Cadillac of trail horses. And breed accordingly. Out west, gaited trail horses still bring good money. I know people who have paid $10,000 for trail horses (Fox Trotters) just for trail riding.
TWH's used to be popular 50-60 years ago, right? Did they ever wonder why their horse has lost popularity while other horses (like the AQHA) have gained in popularity? It's not because the stock breeds make better riding horses. It's because they are versatile and have good dispositions and maybe, just maybe, because they aren't associated with abuse. No one wants to be associated with abuse. So if you love TWH's you have to love them in spite
of the reputation of the breed, not because of it. And it isn't the horse's fault. It's the people that breed and show them in the big lick style.
I think there is a market for naturally gaited TWH's. Certainly there is out west.