UNIQUE GAIT BRED INTO THE TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE
The Tennessee Walking Horse is unique in its ability cover ground smoothly without jarring the rider. This is because the Tennessee Walking Horse’s natural inherited gait is not the trot (like a Quarter horse) but a smooth 4 beat gait known as the RUNNING WALK.
Where does this smooth movement come from?
An enzyme named DMRT3 has been discovered that enables a horse to do a gait other than TROT. Breeds that pace, rack, single-foot, etc. carry this gene. It is found as a dominant trait, the Tennessee Walking Horse carries 2 copies of this gene. The result of this, along with along with the physical conformation of the Walking Horse, is the ability to do the smooth as glass 4 beat gaits known as the FLAT WALK and RUNNING WALK. Further studies are being done with results that may indicate there is an even more complex combination of gene sequencing possibly defining not just the ability to something other than trot, but possibly more gait specific.
The Tennessee Walking Horse is even unique in that its weight distribution when moving in its gait, is on the rear quarters, unlike other breeds where the weight is evenly distributed. This “rear driven” movement combined with the overstride inherent in the gait, allows the horse to have tremendous front action. In the Tennessee Walking Horse, the front legs essentially “get out of the way” while the back legs propel the animal forwards. Paul Roberson gait study is an in-depth explanation of this movement.
This gait is exhibited from birth. As a show horse, the Tennessee Walking horse is trained to utilize this inherited ability, and to compete at the top of their game as any other athlete using specialized equipment to enhance his movement.
Look at the Gait and compare