PERFORMANCE HORSE 101
The Performance Tennessee Walking Horse is indeed something special. A Diva, a Rock Star, a Child’s best friend all describe our SHOW HORSE. Whether bred in the purple from World Grand Champion parents, or coming from the wrong side of the pedigree tracks, each and every one of these magnificent animals exhibits conformation, the natural inherited talent, temperament and trainability required of a performance horse. And they all exhibit one more trait, a willingness, even a joy when performing in the show ring. Make no mistake these horses have chosen their career.
The show horses’ day starts quietly with breakfast at around 6am. They are served quality feed and hay, with added vitamins, mineral and other supplements tailored to their specific needs as an athlete. While he enjoys his breakfast his stall is cleaned. Most stalls range from a minimum size of 12 x 12, upwards to some as large as 16 x 20. In it he has “all the luxuries”. Fans in the summer move the air and keep him cool, while fly spray systems keep the pests away. In the winter he wears warm blankets to keep the chill off.
Winter finds many of the show horse vacationing. Show horse are “let down” and sometimes either pleasure ridden or turned out to relax in the pasture. this off season vacation is tailored to the preference of the horse. Many do not like to have too much idle time and are ridden lightly or taken on the trail, while others enjoy running in the pasture.
A show horse trains just like any other athlete, with a fitness program developed for each individual horse. All young horse are taught the basics of manner, being able to be saddled and ridden, and being shod. Early in the process the young horse will start to display a preference and the ability for one or more of the different disciplines. His training program will be tailored to bring out his strengths. Type of action and attitude towards training play a large part in where the colt will find his place, either in the show ring in one of the various disciplines or as a pleasure horse, or versatility horse.
Below is an example of one of the athletes preparing to go back to training camp in spring. Last fall his built up shoes (known as a “package”) was removed by his blacksmith and he was allowed to run barefoot on the soft ground. Some horses wear light plates in the off season to keep their feet from wearing. Again everything is tailored to the specific needs and like of each of these “pro” atheletes.