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Tennessee Walking Horses in Dressage?

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  • Tennessee Walking Horses in Dressage?

    Anyone here seen or have a TWH doing dressage? Opinions on TWH in dressage?

  • #2
    Like anything the answer is - it depends...

    If you are looking to do low level schooling shows, absolutely!

    The TWH organization actually has official dressage tests that replace the trot work with a running walk. Our local club offers gaited tests at its schooling shows and we've had several people enter. Just like the standard tests, some horse/rider combos were quite good, and some - not so much.

    Here's info from the TWH breeders's association.


    I do not believe there are any gaited classes at USDF shows. While there are a few TWH who can trot, I assume you're asking about gaited dressage.

    As an aside, my husband has a TWH that he uses primarily for trail riding. I borrowed him for a dressage clinic last year when my horse was lame (had already paid and wasn't getting a refund, so I figured I better take something!). The clinician made an interesting comment - he said that because of their lateral movement, the gaited horses could not engage their back in the same way that horses that trot do. He said it's not apparent at the lower levels, but if you try to move a gaited horse up the levels, it will have a great deal of difficulty truly engaging. This person was not negative on gaited horses - he told me he'd worked with several and thought they could be very good low level horses. I don't know enough about biomechanics to say if it's true, but it sounded reasonable.

    Have fun with your TWH, and just think - you'll never have to worry about sitting the trot!


    • #3
      I have a twh who actually has a very nice trot but his canter is pretty much 4 beated. I've shown him a little in regular usdf lower level classes and have been pretty happy considering his "challenges". They usually have a natural uphill build, lower the hind quarters pretty easily, seem to have a lot of positive DAP. Although I know better than generalize on this particular board.
      Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!


      • #4
        My boarder has a SSH (pinto TWH) that she shows lower level dressage with. Everyone loves him and he looks like a little mini WB or draft cross as he has A LOT of bone.

        He has a true w/t/c and doesnt gait. When he gets SUPER nervous he will pace a bit but thats it.

        Heres a few pics:



        Those are old pics and hes going way better now and actually has suspension! but anyways you get the idea!

        Member of the ILMD[FN]HP Clique, The Florida Clique, OMGiH I loff my mares, and the Bareback Riders clique!


        • #5
          If their gaited they have to do the gaited dressage test because of their gaits but if they have a true w/t/c I seen no reason why not at the lower levels. I always say I wish my but now my husbands twh was not gaited because the suspension he has as he gaits in is amazing!! I'd love to be able to show him, he is built so nicely for the lower levels, he could make 4th easy if only he wasn't gaited
          Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


          • #6
            Part of it depends on if the 'extra' gaits were ever developed.

            I've known several who never did anything but W/T/C... gaits were pure and went as far as owners/riders wanted to take them. Which wasn't upper levels, but certainly were competitive as far as they did go.

            Have also known a couple of half-breds who were lovely. Again, no tendency to gait, could get too lateral when tense.
            InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

            Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


            • #7
              twh dressage

              our usdf chapter holds an annual schooling show. we always offer twh dressage classes. sometimes there's up to 4 entries per class. we've re-written trotting horse dressage tests using walking horse gaits. we don't use the tests written by the walking horse group. this is because they don't follow the training tree as to skill acquisition. our tests attempt to be true to the usdf intro and training level tests. one year a twh won the high point award. the owner of the horse also used the horse for team penning. a person brought a young arab stallion to the show. she got dumped and the stallion was running all over the property. the team penning twh and rider took off at a gallop after the stallion and penned it into an open paddock. they then went on to take the high point award for their test ride.


              • #8
                I am fortunate enough to have local shows that have classes I can take my TWH in. One show uses the actual TWH tests. The other has made their own.
                We raised a filly out of my TWH mare who was by my FSH stallion. This filly has the most WB-ie movement. So much suspension and reach. She isn't gaited at all!
                She will be my next dressage horse after we start her in the spring.

                "My Saddlebred can do anything your horse can do" Clique


                • #9
                  3rd Level

                  I just wanted to mention that TWH aren't just showing at the lower levels. Claudia Coombs is showing her big black TWH gelding Third Level. So far she is the highest showing level TWH. She also rides Warmbloods.


                  • #10
                    I had one, though I never competed him. Lots of lessons though, just for training purposes and fun for me.

                    Let's put it this way...the upward transition from walk to trot and downward transition from trot to walk were "hell" . He'd throw in a few strides of running walk between the transitions. But eventually he did learn to do clean transitions by my using a "double pump" leg aid. He figured it out. He had a huge trot with a suprising amount of suspension though. The sitting trot was difficult as well, as he'd want to naturally gait.

                    I laughed so hard when my instruction (GP competitor) hopped on him one day to deal with the sitting trot (gaiting) issue. He was never taught to gait, btw, it just came naturally. She'd never ridden a Walker and zoomed around the arena at top speed at the running walk. She had a ball, but we both knew this is the way TWH's were bred to go.

                    After that, we just had fun with him on what he "could" do properly in dressage terms. I had other horses to ride, so it wasn't as if I was going anywhere with him.

                    His canter was not a pure 3 beat..a bit like riding and eggbeater . But he sure was an athletic and handsome horse. Lost him in his 20's a few years ago.
                    www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                    "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                    Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                    • #11
                      BTW, I owned my TWH from the age of 3. He never started gaiting until he was about 7. Not taught, bred in.
                      www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                      "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                      Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                      • #12
                        I saw a gelding a few years ago that, if you didn't tell anyone, passed for a warmblood. He had a great trot and also gaited. Wish I had known he was for sale before the person who bought him! Also used as a trail horse.

                        Generally, gaited people don't want their Walkers to trot at all. They look for that run walk as soon as they hit the ground. However, some of them can trot and still gait properly.

                        Some of the half walkers may have to be coaxed into gaiting. I rode one long ago that never gaited for me, never learned how to get him to do it. He could, I just couldn't get it out of him. That was OK as I was riding him hunter at the time. His biggest issue was that he went along kind of naturally inverted, had for a long time, and wasn't going to change for me.

                        I think there may be some wonderful gems out there in the TW world.


                        • #13
                          Both FOSH and NWHA organizations are incorporating dressage into their shows, and both allow them as open gaited breed, with the intermediate gait being judged not on foot fall but consistency of tempo and rhythm. You can find the tests in the rule book.

                          Fosh: here

                          NWHA: here
                          "The best hearts are ever the bravest"


                          • #14
                            Kelly O'Shea Duncan on the East coast rides a TWH in dressage, I believe. I think 3rd or 4th level. I think TWH have the same problems/challenges that Saddlebreds and other types/breeds have which stem from a focus on a more inverted way of moving. Not "bad" for them but "bad" for dressage. Not sure if I totally buy that "they can't do lateral movement" comment. I think with most horses it is the level of engagement and not a "they can't do it" sort of thing.
                            Most friendships in the horse world are just an opinion away from doom.


                            • #15
                              I just Googled Kelly O'Shea Duncan and the horse I'm thinking of is a Hackney. Probably has similar issues/challenges as TWHs do.
                              Most friendships in the horse world are just an opinion away from doom.


                              • #16
                                I'm taking lessons on my big-lick bred TWH gelding. Dressage, long and low, quality circles and bends, leg yielding...has done wonders for him mentally. He's a tight, tense horse: finding he can go long and low and happily- has flipped a switch in him.

                                We're going to hit a dressage schooling show in November in TN, there are none in AL that I can find that use the USDF app'd gaited tests. He absolutely does not trot u/s and I'm not trying to get him to do so. I want a rhythmic, relaxed, forward working walk/flatwalk/run walk. His canter is coming along slowly too- it's that lateral looking canter until you can get him under himself, then it's pretty nice, for a walkin' horse


                                • #17
                                  Yes, one can show a TWH in dressage, as long as one is aware of, and willing to accept the challenges this presents.
                                  Any traditionally gaited horse will revert to its "roots" (i.e., its comfort zone) when tense or uncertain. In most cases, this means gaiting, no matter how well trained the horse is not to do so. TWHs, MFTs, Paso Finos, some ASBs - all will revert to what is comfortable and natural for them, under enough stress.
                                  There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, as with Ms. Coomb's Third level TWH. But most traditionally gaited breeds are not good prospects for successfull dressage competition.

                                  In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                                  A life lived by example, done too soon.


                                  • #18
                                    Yes, we own one who does really well at dressage. He doesn't do the "gait" only a solid W/T/C. His extended trot is amazazing! People who see him move have NO idea he is TWH. Because he isn't gaited, he doesn't have the pacey or hind movement of a TWH. Also, on a humorous note, we met his breeder who begged us NOT to tell he was from their barn. They are embarrassed he didn't gait (which is hilarious to us).
                                    Just because I talk slow doesn't mean that I actually AM slow.


                                    • #19
                                      Also, on a humorous note, we met his breeder who begged us NOT to tell he was from their barn. They are embarrassed he didn't gait (which is hilarious to us)

                                      That doesn't surprise me at all, if your bread and butter is raising gaited horses.

                                      Especially if the TWH mentioned above is all Walker. Some stallions can throw a "walk" on just about anything, some not so much. People will breed a non-walker mare to a stallion hoping to get that nice walk, so a stallion that does get the "walk" most of the time is desirable.

                                      Knew of a Walker stallion who was kind of small for the breed. Could have been environmental factors when he was young, could never find it out. The owner of the stallion would guarantee a "walk" from anything he was bred to or the fee was returned. However, the owner would NOT guarantee the height of the offspring. Stallion often threw bigger than himself out of similar sized mare.


                                      • #20
                                        Missouri Fox Trotter dressage

                                        I realize that some on this forum may never take me seriously after professing this... but... I proudly show my MFT mare at schooling shows where gaited dressage tests are offered. My mare absolutely does not trot she is hard wired to fox trot, so traditional classes are not available to us. She is the most giving, sensible, trainable horse that I've ever had the pleasure to work with. I bought her when I was frustrated and "done" with showing. I wanted to have a good experience with a kind horse and trail ride with my friends who had gaited horses. 3 years ago we were dragged (kicking and screaming) to a dressage schooling show and well... we haven't looked back since.

                                        We work regularly with a local, kind and very open-minded dressage coach and we have trained with Claudia Coombs as well. Following in her footsteps, I hope to some day have the highest showing level Fox Trotter! Here is Rain in fox trot: