Help me understand Tennessee walking horses
I was watching a show at the state fair this weekend, and it was the first time I've seen a TWH class. There were only two horses in it, but one was moving in a way that looked extraordinarily uncomfortable — head bobbing, really awkward (to my admittedly ignorant eye) movement.
This is that horse (please excuse the crap video quality...skip to 0:08 to see it a little better):
Is that what it's supposed to look like? If so, is it as uncomfortable and unnatural as it looks?
I looked at some videos on YouTube of TWH, and I saw the BIG walk, but I can't tell if they're just better at it than this horse or what. Even the ones that I assume are doing it well (like the one following) look look really uncomfortable. Are they?
(Skip to 0:22 on this one) (
I'm really not a TWH person but I do have a Fox Trotter and the head-bob is normal (and desirable) for both breeds. It gives them a rhythm to their gait, kind of like a person swinging their arms when they walk. It helps them get a larger stride.
I don't like the squatting style of the second horse, he is more like a show-ring type horse than the first horse. The first horse looks more like a flat shod, pleasure type horse. The kind you could take out and enjoy on the trails. :-)
What makes them attractive (to me anyway) is that they are fast and smooth. They can out-walk most regular horses and instead of trotting (if you get a good one) you glide! I kind of find gaited horses addictive. I only have one, and am unlikely to be able to afford another (I am not in gaited horse country), but man, my mare is a blast!
She has a 1/2 QH son who shows some promise at gaiting (he has a flat walk) but he is so green that I figure we are years away from working on gaits, I just want him to be a safe trail horse. Gaiting can come after we master the walk-trot-canter and not spooking or bucking. :lol:
Pay no attention to the horse in the ring or the Big Lick. The Big Lick horses have been sored to produce the gait.
The head bob is the signature of the Running walk. Done correctly it's a glide ride.
This horse? Is a Big Lick horse...and the reason the head is not nodding? Is because the rider literally has a death grip on the reins, keeping horse from moving head like it is supposed to be doing.
And yes, those horses are really really uncomfortable.
Tennessee Walking Horses are wonderful to ride, and the nodding will also get ears to flopping too and some will even flop their lips.
Lovely breed, when the Big Licks, or speed rackers don't get a hold of them.
Trailhorserider, your horse sounds like a lot of fun!! After watching the videos Sue posted, I can see where that would be a comfortable ride. Watching those show horse videos and seeing the one at the show made me think they might be terrifying to ride :p
Palomine, it's so sad some horses have to go through that for ribbons. After I posted this the other night, I made the mistake of watching some videos on soring (which is horrific, good lord), and that led me to videos of rodeo abuse (I actually had no idea people rope horses. I thought they only did it to cattle, which is in my opinion sad enough, but horses have so much further to fall) and all kinds of other terrible things that left me in tears. It was the middle of the night, but I was dying to drive to the barn and give my boy a hug!
Walkers are certainly addictive. I find the saying "ride one today buy one tomorrow" incredibly true. I used to own an Arab (loved him), now I have two walkers (really love them).
The head nod, if it's not nodding, its not walking. There is nothing more satisfying than a good shake, well maybe the big rocking horse canter...:lol:
Definitely don't look at the Big lick horses as an example of the breed or the gait.
Walkers are incredibly smart and stoic. Very noble horse, IMO.
we encourage a head nod in our gaited horses and actually work from there to build speed and smootnhess (terrible wording i know). A TWH performance trainer friend of mine once refered to the fastest pace a gaited horse will do with a deep head nod as a "learning gait" where the horse is building muscle memory.
Some of y'all need to relax on bashing the big lick industry, NOT EVERY BIG LICK HORSE IS SORED!!!!!!
I'm a QH person but I have always said there will forever be room for a TWH in my barn. These are horses with huge huge hearts and wonderful personalities. They are wonderful to ride and yes, the heads to bob and the ears flop. I love it!
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