Now That’s a Walking Horse!

Tennessee Walking Horse
Susan Garlinghouse, DVM, and her 13-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse, John Henry, take on Cougar Rock during the 2013 Tevis Cup ride. Photo courtesy Susan Garlinghouse.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has established a program benefitting owners and riders of registered flat-shod Tennessee Walking Horses. “Now, That’s A Walking Horse!” provides awards to adult amateurs who participate in any activities outside of the traditional breed show rail classes. These include dressage, driving, competitive trail riding, reining, and more. The program also offers grants to support natural horsemanship and therapeutic riding programs and clinics that use qualifying Tennessee Walking Horses.

Individuals can receive up to $500 in Recognition Awards, and organizations or sponsors of clinics and promotional events can receive up to $1,000 per event. To be eligible, Tennessee Walkers must be registered with the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association or the Canadian Walking Horse Registry. Applicants are also required to answer questions about how they use their Tennessee Walkers and how they intend to use the award or grant.

Tennessee Walking Horse
Tennessee Walkers are getting awards for participating in activities outside the traditional breed show-ring.
Photo courtesy Buddy Brewer.

You don’t need to be a top competitor to apply. The HSUS is looking for any equestrians, organizations and events that are interested in improving horses and horsemanship skills, as well as promoting the naturally gaited Tennessee Walker. For 2014, the program offered up to $20,000. To apply, visit

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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Kim Abbott Klimek first got involved with horses as a junior in high school, then went on to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in equine studies with a concentration in communications from Centenary College in Hackettstown, N.J., in 2005. After college, Kim worked for model horse company Breyer Animal Creations, writing copy for products and helping to write and edit for Just About Horses magazine. In the fall of 2007, she joined the Horse Illustrated team.


  1. I think that it’s wonderful to see a program that recognizes walking horses for being the wonderful breed that they are instead of the big lick charade that they have become. And how great to see a walking horse excel at Tevis and learning to become supple through dressage work. Now, if the PAST Act could only pass in the congress in order to strengthen penalties for abusive training and shoeing practices all too common in the show ring end of the breed what a wonderful day that would be!

  2. What a great story! Tennessee Walking Horses are more cruelly abused than any other breed in the U.S. because of soring and the big lick. More support is needed to abolish the chains and stacks these horses are required to wear to perform the big lick. Please support the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act by writing your Senators and asking them to cosponsor S.1121.

  3. This article really shows how versatile the Walking Horse breed is. These wonderful horses need to be protected from the show ring abuse of the so-called Big Lick. There is a bill in the U.S. Sentate right now that would do this. It is called the PAST Act. Please support the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act by writing your Senators and asking them to cosponsor S.1121.

  4. Thanks for bringing attention to the NOW THAT’S A WALKING HORSE program! Promotion of the versatile foundation of the TWH breed through this type of program is welcome progress!! To further aid in the promotion and care of this magnificent breed, please contact your Senators and Congressmen to ask for their support of the PAST Act (SB1121) to eliminate the mis-representation of the TWH through the exaggerated “big lick” gait.

  5. Promoting the Sound Tennessee Walker is what we ALL endorse! Please everyone use your voice tell your politicians to support/co-sponsore the PAST ACT H.R.1942/ S1121! We CAN together end the BIG LICK abuse once and for all!!!

  6. Promoting the Sound Tennessee Walker is what we ALL endorse! Please everyone use your voice tell your politicians to support/co-sponsore the PAST ACT H.R.1942/ S1121! We CAN together end the BIG LICK abuse once and for all!!!

  7. I love they are showcasing this breed to reflect multiple disciplines. For too long they have been known only for the padded up and sored performance horse, traversing an oval and wondering how life got so F’ed up. Thank you for this article! Love to see more!

  8. I apologize I got the Past Act number wrong it is NOT HR 1942!!! But it is S.1121. I tried to delete my earlier post but can’t !!! Let’s fight this horse soring abuse, let’s end it!!! Call your politicians!!!

  9. There is no question about the necessity for passing the PAST act. Politicians blocking the act are doing so for their own financial gain. I’ve have never witnessed such an obviously corrupt situation that isn’t being called out by the entire US population! I hope someday the politicians involved will pay for their pure evil ways. Meanwhile it is great to see TN Walkers participating outside the deadly show-ring.

  10. Fantastic article! So happy to see the sound sane natural walking horses in the spotlight. We own 4 beautiful barefoot walkers, we trail ride and my daughter uses her paint walker for gaming days. They are versatile and kind, and the horror of soring for the big lick show ring has to end. Please contact your Senators and ask them to cosponsor the PAST Act S1121 to end the suffering of these beautiful horses.

  11. The TWH is such a fine breed and so very versatile – thank you for recognizing it! I’ve been riding TWH in competitive trail for 30 years. Let’s get the PAST act passed!

  12. The PAST act is not enough! Lets boycott and protest those shows, too. Only when the money dries up will the torture stop.

  13. My horse was a part of big kick before I got him.. every time I raise my hand or any sudden movement he jumps back in fear with the white of his eyes showing. He NEVER tries to hurt me but his fear and his pain is real. All because stupid people want to make money off of these innocent animals pain and misery. It must stop!

  14. This sounds like a great program and I will be signing up. I agree with the others who commented that the soring and abuse of these wonderful animals needs to stop, now! The abusers need to be exposed constantly for what they do and who they are as individuals. How anyone in their right mind could think this type of abuse is acceptable is beyond me!


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