A Tennessee Walking Horse is a calm, gentle animal with an kind, obedient nature, and does not require a complicated bitting apparatus.

A simple jointed bit with a short shank and a single set of reins is sufficient to ride most Walking Horses, including the stallions.  The shank suffices to keep the reins away from the head, and prevents them from interfering with the nodding head action. 

A 150 years of experience created the Tennessee Walking Horses, and that same experience developed THIS bit specifically for riding them!!!
Standard Walking Horse Bit

A snaffle (direct rein from the bit) tends to over-flex them at the poll, and because a Walking Horses moves off somewhat faster than a novice gaited rider is accustomed to, the rider tightens up on the reins and prevents the horse from nodding correctly.  Very shortly, the riders find that they now have a Racking Horse instead of a Walking Horse. Unfortunately, this is something that riders, new to gaited horses, seem to have to find out the hard way.

You should always ride your Walking Horse with a gentle hand, using only enough pressure on the reins to maintain a soft contact with the mouth.  These horses have a naturally high head carriage, but require enough give on the reins to nod their heads as they perform their gaits.  You should not try to increase the action of your horse's head by tugging or pumping on the reins.  Nor should you try to set their heads by flexing them at the poll. This restricts the freedom of the neck, causing the horse to nod at the poll instead of from the withers. This will result in a shortening of their stride that produces a racking gait instead of a true, reaching running walk.  If your reins are held gently, and the contact on the mouth is subtle, the nodding action of the horse's head will return a motion like a handshake, (hence the Handshaker name, that has been given to some of the best champions of the breed.)

Remember - if the horse is not nodding, it's not walking!!

Bridling The Walking Horse - Charla James of Justapleasure Stables
uses different Mikmar Bits with her Walking Horses.

Below is a link to all the appropriate Walking Horse bits and bridles that are currently being offered on eBay.

Shop on eBay for deals like this. Walking Horse Bit Interchangeable Mouth 4" Shanks
This Walking horse bit has 4" Stainless Steel shanks and an interchangeable jointed smooth Stainless Steel 5 inch mouth. This bit is in very good used condition. It includes bit guards, curb chain hooks, and a stainless steel curb chain. This is an excellent bit for trail riding and pleasure classes. It is mild and good for young horses learning to neck rein. 
Winning Bid: $15 US or approx. 8 GBP. 

Shop on eBay for deals like this.

Combination Show Bridle, less browband - A very popular bridle in the Walking and Racking Horse circle. The combination side cheek and crown adjustment make this the ideal training bridle as it fits several different horses. Available in Havana brown or black in 1/2 inch width. Includes reins and caveson. 3/8 and 5/8 inch widths are available by special order. Made in the USA from English bridle leather with stainless steel hardware. - $49.75 US or approx. 27 GBP.


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Revised: June 22, 2017