The horse bred in the Central Basin and surrounding areas of Middle Tennessee was first and foremost a utility saddle horse. Blessed with a steady, dependable flat walk, a ground covering running walk, and a smooth comfortable canter, the horse was also intelligent, gentle, and willing to perform whatever chores were required.
When drought and the arrival of mechanized farming destroyed the market for the usin’ horse in the fifties, many bloodlines were lost forever. Other bloodlines forged the foundation for today’s padded show walkers.
A few stalwart
breeders retained the original vision with
bloodstock that had been in their families for
generations. These breeders insisted that the horses
they rode and used regularly have smooth natural
gaits. These horses had to be athletes
with good bones and correct conformation to tackle
the steep hills and rocky terrain of much of Middle
Tennessee. Of equal importance was the
traditional gentle disposition. The horses were and remain ruggedly
handsome, with the luxurious manes and naturally
high tail carriages that were considered the
hallmarks of a fine-bred horse in the formative
years of the breed.
Today's Heritage Tennessee Walking Horse descends from bloodlines that have been in families for generations, bloodlines bred for gait and sense, not show ring primp and fire. A Heritage Walking Horse will trace back to horses with little or no breeding from padded sires and dams. The Heritage Walking Horse is an investment-quality horse!
International Heritage Walking Horse Association set out to define what its horses were for those requesting some criteria, the following were used as standards that make a Heritage Horse distinctly different from the TWH bred exclusively for the show ring:
2] Modern show bloodlines bred for fire and steam have been eliminated. No Heritage Horses have animals on their pedigrees shown padded from 1977 forward (No padded show horses shown after 1976).
3] The signature smooth gait of the Tennessee Walking Horse has been sought out. Heritage Horses can perform a natural, evenly-timed four beat, nodding and walking gait, barefoot or plain shod. Plantation shoeing
is not permitted if a horse seeks certification. Some Heritage Horses are multi-gaited and can also perform other four beat saddle gaits, like the rack, foxtrot, or saddle rack. Because they are not bred to pace or swing, a Heritage Horse learns the canter readily.
Stallions or mares, no longer being used under saddle, show a natural walking ability at liberty or in hand.
4] Various colors and patterns are exhibited within the Heritage Horse ranks. All color lines trace, generation to generation, to horses of those colors and patterns registered in the original TWHBAA Studbooks.
5] Offspring of a pair of Heritage Horses are automatically designated as such once they exhibit a true, four beat, walking gait. (Foals from one Heritage parent and one from other bloodlines are referred to as Heritage Outcrosses. A few of the Heritage stallions and mares, due to the number of older lines in the third generation of their pedigrees, can sire or produce Heritage Horses from any bloodlines not discounted by #2 and #4 above.)
Delight's Midnight Legend is one of
The final step for getting the
Heritage Horse certification for your horse is the video tape. On this
video you show all four sides, pick up all four feet to show hooves, and
a proper four beat walking gait with no pace. The gait must be evenly
timed up, head nodding flat walk and running walk. This is the only
"registry"/organization that looks at, or considers the gait of these
horses. This video is your PROOF! Yes, they are called Tennessee
Walking Horses but do they/can they really do a running walk? The video
is then submitted for review by the Heritage Founders review panel and
they may or may not recommend certification. It is a long process but is
certainly worth the time and effort to have your Tennessee Walking Horse
recognized "by virtue of his pedigree and TRUE WALKING GAITS"!