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Can Tennessee Walking Horses Run?

Can Tennessee Walking Horses Run?

Tennessee Walking Horses are one of the most recognisable and beloved horses in the United States. With their graceful, long strides and flashy colour patterns, they have become a popular choice for riding and showing. But despite their reputation as elegant show horses, many wonder if Tennessee Walking Horses can actually run.

The History of Tennessee Walking Horses

Tennessee Walking Horses have been around since the late 19th century. They were developed by crossing several breeds, including Standardbreds, Morgans, and American Saddlebreds. The result was an agile horse that could be ridden for long distances without tiring.

Tennessee Walking Horses were used for farm work and transportation, but eventually, they gained popularity in the show ring. Their flashy gaits and unique colour patterns set them apart from other breeds.

The Gaits of a Tennessee Walking Horse

The Tennessee Walking Horse is known for its unique gaits. They are capable of performing the flat-footed walk, the running walk, the canter, and the slow gait. The running walk is a four-beat gait that is smoother than the trot, making it easier to ride for long periods of time.

The slow gait is the most unique of the Walking Horse’s gaits. It is a four-beat gait that is slower than the running walk and is sometimes referred to as the “trotting walk”. The slow gait is often used in show rings to demonstrate the horse’s agility and smoothness.

Are Tennessee Walking Horses Fast?

Tennessee Walking Horses are not known for their speed. They are not a fast breed, especially when compared to other racing breeds like Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses.

Tennessee Walking Horses are more suited for endurance riding than speed. Their smooth gaits and steady pace make them perfect for long-distance riding.

Can Tennessee Walking Horses Be Trained to Run?

Tennessee Walking Horses can be trained to run, but it is not recommended. Due to their conformation, Tennessee Walking Horses are prone to injuries if they are pushed too hard.

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The Dangers of Running Tennessee Walking Horses

Running Tennessee Walking Horses can be dangerous for the horse and rider. Tennessee Walking Horses are not built for speed and are more prone to injury if pushed too hard.

Overstriding is a common issue for Walking Horses that are running. This is when the horse’s legs are stretched out too far, causing strain on the tendons and ligaments.

Lameness is another potential issue, as running can cause tendon and ligament damage, as well as joint issues.

What Are Tennessee Walking Horses Used For?

Tennessee Walking Horses are most commonly used for show and pleasure riding. They are known for their flashy gaits and gentle nature, making them a popular choice for the show ring.

Tennessee Walking Horses are also used for trail riding, as their smooth gaits make them comfortable to ride for long periods of time.

Should You Train Your Tennessee Walking Horse to Run?

It is not recommended to train your Tennessee Walking Horse to run. Although they can be trained to run, it is not safe for the horse, and it can lead to serious injuries.

Tips for Riding a Tennessee Walking Horse

If you want to ride your Tennessee Walking Horse, here are some tips:

  • Use a Snaffle Bit: A snaffle bit is the best choice for a Tennessee Walking Horse, as it is gentle on the horse’s mouth and allows for more control.
  • Don’t Overwork Your Horse: Tennessee Walking Horses are not built for speed, so don’t push them too hard. Allow your horse to take breaks and adjust to the terrain.
  • Know the Gaits: Familiarise yourself with the different gaits of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Know when to use which gait, and don’t try to push the horse to do something it isn’t capable of.


Tennessee Walking Horses are a beautiful, graceful breed that is well-suited for show and pleasure riding. Although they can be trained to run, it is not recommended due to their conformation and potential for injury. With proper care and training, Tennessee Walking Horses can be a great addition to any riding stable.