I love to research. But, it’s so easy to get caught
up into the research that you forget to write your story. Has that happened to
you? Well, it just happened to me, again.
Finally started working on book two of my Yellow Creek novels, Night Thunder. I had a blurb and a short synopsis from last year in my file. So, when I started writing, my characters, out of the blue, popped up with something new that required some research.
My main character owns a Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH). Even though I’m originally from Tennessee and from the area when the Tennessee Walking Horse originated, I’m not familiar with their history or the details of training a TWH, hence, the research.
To me, horses are majestic looking animals. Many have viewed videos or seen
pictures of the high stepping Tennessee Walking horse performing to show off
that beautiful walk. Who wouldn’t want to watch a horse perform with such
precision and grace? Here’s a little history of the TWH.
In central Tennessee, around the later 1800s, the Tennessee Walking Horse became America’s original horse. By 1947 the Department of Agriculture recognized the TWH as its own breed. The Tennessee Walker is a mixture of 6 breeds: Narragansett Pacer, the Canadian Pacer, Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Morgan, and American Saddlebred.
Many believe that General Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveler, was the first Tennessee
Walker. Shortly after the Civil War, people started producing the horse with
the smooth-gait. Their unique walk led to competing events and shows that drew
a large audience which is carried through to this day. Every year at the Miller
Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, thousands of people attend the Tennessee
Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association Show (TWHBEA) and in July the
Walking Horse Owners Association International Grand Championship Show.
The most known characteristic of the TWH is their smooth gait, which is a walk that replaced the bouncy trot that other horses have when you ride. This breed didn’t jostle his rider causing sores from riding all day, so the southern plantation owners
used the TWH as a utility horse to oversee their land. The horse’s smooth gait,
stamina, endurance, and speed made the Tennessee Walking Horse the most
desirable horse in the south. This horse also proved to be calm, gentle, and an
even tempered horse that even children could ride.
There are three distinct gaits: flat walk, running walk, and canter. The flat walk is a long stride where the horse’s four feet touch the ground separately. The horse can do up to 8 miles per hour with his flat walk.
Their running walk is an inherited uniqueness to the breed. The horse appears to glide with the smooth gait. The speed can be up to 20 miles per hours.
The canter is the fastest gait, but unlike the canter of other horses, the TWH seems to be more relaxed and at ease at this speed.
When I watched the movie War Horse, I felt the betrayal that we humans showed to that powerful, marvelous animal. It was a disturbing movie for me, especially the ‘No Man’s Land’ scene, and yet, that brave horse brought hope to humanity with a connection of mutual aid, if only for a moment. Yet we humans have betrayed that loyalty in ways that you can’t imagine.
Like many of you, my sister-in-law is a horse lover, practically born on a horse. She
understands their loyalty that they show toward humans. I married a cowboy
(city slicker now) that loves horses and knows how powerful and strong they are,
and yet, how vulnerable they are when it comes to humans. To me, horses are one
of the most magnificent creatures on the planet.
What we, as a society, have allowed the owners and trainers (not all of them) of the
TWH’s to do is disturbing and inhumane. During my research, I discovered what
really goes on in the Tennessee Walker Horses’ world and it isn’t pretty.
Next month I will enlighten you on the facts that I learned while researching the
Tennessee Walking Horses’ suffering, cruelty, and agony. Animals in our society are once again enduring yet another event that revolves around money, regardless of the sacrifices made. I supposed that’s why my character in my Yellow Creek novel wanted me to write this story, Night Thunder, coming in July.