Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration


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Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration

August-September, 11 days ending the Saturday before Labor Day
This festival features 11 days and nights of pageantry and competition for more than 2,000 Tennessee Walking Horses in Shelbyville, Tenn., the "Walking Horse Capital of the World." The horses compete for more than $650,000 in prizes and the title of World Grand Champion. The celebration is the nation's largest horse show in terms of spectators (close to 250,000 fans come to this town of 13,000) and the second largest in numbers of entered horses.
The blood lines of the Tennessee Walking Horse are traced back to the Thoroughbred, the Standardbred, the Morgan, and the American Saddle Horse. It was bred pure in the early days of Tennessee for the threefold purpose of riding, driving, and general farm work. Today, it's a pleasure mount and a show horse with distinctive high-stepping gaits.
The three natural gaits of the Tennessee Walker are the flat-foot walk, the running walk, and the canter. The flat-foot walk, the slowest, is a diagonally opposed movement of the feet. The running walk starts like the flat-foot walk and, as speed increases, the hind foot overstrides the front track. It is the only gait of a horse where the forefoot strikes the ground a mere instant before the hindfoot. The canter is a rhythmic motion known as the "rocking-chair" movement.
The Shelbyville celebration began in 1939, at the initiative of horse owner Henry Davis of Wartrace, Tenn., who thought his county should celebrate its most important asset. The celebration has been held ever since without interruption.
Besides the horse shows, the celebration features an equestrian trade fair, horse sales, an arts-and-crafts festival, and America's largest barn decoration competition. The barns and stalls are elegantly decorated with brass lanterns, chandeliers, fine art, rugs, and expensive furnishings.
CONTACTS:
Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration
P.O. Box 1010
Shelbyville, TN 37162
931-684-5915; fax: 931-684-5949
www.twhnc.com
SOURCES:
GdUSFest-1984, p. 179
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