The following information courtesy of the National Walking Horse Association.
Updated April 2015. For complete, up-to-date rules, visit www.nwha.com 

  • Presentation
  • Shoeing Rules and Regulations 
  • Gaits 
  • Divisions
  • Additional MWHA Class Descriptions

Presentation

All entries should be presented clean, neatly trimmed, braided (for English presentation,) and in good flesh presenting a healthy appearance. Each entry should be outfitted in clean and appropriate tack. The exhibitor of each entry should be neat in appearance, correctly dressed in properly-fitting riding attire and shall demonstrate sportsmanlike behavior at all times. Braids are optional in All Day Pleasure Classes.

Shoeing Rules and Regulations

D. Country Pleasure (Keg Shoe): The keg shoe must be a factory-made non draft breed, stamped shoe (poured or cast) hot- or cold-rolled steel or aluminum shoe. K. Clear hoof polish only (black is prohibited) L. Shoes only allowed on horse. Pads of any kind are prohibited, therapeutic or otherwise. No devices or enhancements of any kind added. No therapeutic shoes (heart bar, egg bar, natural balance etc.) The reasoning behind this being, while we understand the need for therapeutic shoes, given the TWH unique situation they can be used adversely (weight added, pressure added).

  • No shoe can be made of any material heavier than conventional steel.
  • Acrylic can be used to build a toe that has been broken on one foot only.
  • Toe length must exceed the height of the heel by one inch or more.
  • Toe length shall not exceed 5 inches.
  • Hoof bands are prohibited on horses on the show grounds.
  • Black hoof polish is prohibited. Only clear hoof is allowed. 

Plantation Shoe (For Plantation Pleasure Division only.)
The plantation shoe must not exceed 3 pounds, 8 ounces. The plantation shoe must not exceed 1 1/2 inch in width nor 1/2 inch in thickness with no bare plate or other weight inside the shoe. The caulk must not exceed a one inch turnback and the shoe must not extend more than 1/4 inch beyond the hoof at the toe. The heel of the shoe must not extend beyond the bulb of the horse’s heel when a perpendicular line is drawn from the bulb of the horse’s heel to the ground. The use of borium is permitted on the caulks of pleasure shoes, but the thickness of the shoe and caulk with the borium must not exceed 1 1/8 inches. Welded on clips are not permitted on flat shod horses. Clips that are drawn from the shoe itself are permitted. No additional weight shall be allowed on or in the hoof, other than the shoe and nails.

Lite Shod Shoe (For Lite Shod, Trail Pleasure, and All Day Pleasure Divisions)
The Lite Shod shoe must not exceed 3/4 inch in width or 3/8 inch in thickness with the exception of the caulk, which must be no thicker than 3/4 inch. The turnback shall not exceed one inch, and the shoe must not extend more than 1/4 inch beyond the hoof at the toe. The shoe is not to extend beyond the bulb of the horse’s heel when a perpendicular line is drawn from the bulb of the horse’s heel to the ground. The use of borium is permitted on the caulks of the Lite Shod shoes, but the thickness of the shoe and caulk with the borium must not exceed 7/8 inch. Welded on clips are not permitted on flat-shod horses. Clips that are drawn from the shoe itself are permitted. No additional weight shall be allowed on or in the hoof, other than the shoe and nails. The Lite Shod shoe must not exceed 1 lb. 8 ounces in weight.

Country Pleasure (Keg Shoe)
The keg shoe must be a factory-made non draft breed, stamped shoe (poured or cast) hot- or cold-rolled steel or aluminum shoe. Only flat or heeled keg shoe options are allowed. Keg shoes manufactured with grabs or weighted toes 3 are prohibited. Only clips drawn from the shoe itself are permitted. No additional material can be added or removed from the keg shoe. The keg shoe shall not extend past the toe. The shoe is not to extend beyond the bulb of the horse’s heel when a perpendicular line is drawn from the bulb of the horse’s heel to the ground. 1Poured or cast clips are permitted if poured in the original cast (may not be welded on). Poured or cast heels (caulks) are permitted if poured in the original cast (may not be welded on). Keg shoes shall be allowed in all divisions

Yearling - Shall not exceed 3/4 inch wide nor 3/8 inch thick.

Weanlings may not be shod under any circumstances.

Heel/Toe Measurement: Toe length must exceed the height of the heel by one inch or more. The length of the toe, exclusive of the shoe, shall not exceed 5 inches measured from the coronet band, at the center of the front pastern along the front of the hoof wall to the ground, excluding the shoe. The heel shall be measured at a 90 degree angle from the coronet band, at the most lateral portion of the rear of the pastern, to the ground excluding the shoe and shoe caulks. 

Materials: No shoe can be made from any material heavier than conventional carbon steel.

Acrylic Horse’s Hooves: Acrylic can be used to build a toe that has been broken on one foot only. Any appliances attached to a horse’s hoof other than a regulation shoe as allowed in the show ring are prohibited.

Prohibited equipment: The following equipment is also prohibited on show grounds: appliances attached to a horse’s hoof (including but not limited to hoof bands, pads, heel springs, therapeutic hoof plates, etc.), action devices on the pastern areas (such as chains, rollers, etc.), and plastic wrap used for the purpose of creating occlusive leg wraps

Hoof bands are prohibited on horses on the show grounds.

Gaits

Trail Walk
The trail walk is a true walk with a loose rein and no appearance of strain on the part of the horse or rider. The appearance should be that of a pleasure riding horse that is relaxed, content and manageable.

Pleasure Gait
The pleasure gait is to be performed at moderate speed and can be a variation of any saddle horse gait with no preference given to any particular gait over another. The gait should be consistent and balanced and should appear easy and comfortable to ride. Excessive speed is not a desired trait.

Flat Walk
The flat walk should be bold and four-cornered with an evenly timed 1-2-3-4 beat. In the flat walk the horse should break at the knees, reaching and pulling with the front legs with that movement originating from the shoulder. The horse should have impulsion and exhibit stride and drive with the hind legs. There should be no wringing or twisting of the hocks, nor any excessive hock action. The horse should demonstrate a loose way of going with plenty of motion. A horse with a good flat walk will naturally have a straight, up and down head motion timed with the overall rhythm of the walk. Within the flat walk lies the foundation for a good running walk and it should be judged equally as important as is the running walk. The flat walk should be a distinctive FLAT walk, not a slow running walk, with each leg impacting the ground with distinction. The flat walk is more bold or purposeful in movement than the running walk. Form should never be sacrificed for speed. Excessive “bumping or jerking” of the reins at the flat walk is not considered good form and shall be penalized.

Running Walk
The running walk has the same beat or evenly timed footfall (1-2-3-4) as the flat walk but is much smoother with greater stride, rhythm, and natural motion. The increased rear leg stride and increased reach in the shoulder create this smoother ride and propel the horse at a faster speed without changing the cadence of the leg motion. As with the flat walk, the horse will naturally have a straight up and down vertical head motion timed with the overall rhythm of the running walk. A correctly performed running walk is truly a gait of ease, producing a clearly heard and easily counted 4-beat tempo. It should be straight and loose, 4 cornered and exhibit over-all balance, without any trace or degree of a rack, trot, fox trot, pace or stepping pace. There should be no excessive winging, crossing or rope-walking. Horses exhibiting an exaggerated, hesitating way of going, with a tendency to point with the front hooves, are not in form. The horse should reach and pull in the front with powerful shoulder movement and demonstrate obvious impulsion behind, pushing and striding, setting its feet firmly on the ground. When correctly engaged the horse will naturally drop its hip. Speed at the running walk while maintaining correct form is a positive attribute; however, form should NEVER be sacrificed for speed. Consistency of correct gait shall be rewarded. Excessive “bumping or jerking” of the reins at the running walk is not considered good form and shall be penalized.

Canter
The canter should be consistent, smooth and straight on both leads, not walking behind, but cantering on both ends with a rolling or rocking chair motion, comfortably collected, neck slightly arched, head slightly tucked, giving the appearance of ease and grace. The horse should be relaxed, performing in rhythm, with head motion in perfect harmony with leg movement. The canter is not too fast, with speed somewhat dependent upon the individual horse’s conformation and size; this shall be considered in judging. While in the canter, the horse should cover some ground; it should not rock up and down and go nowhere. A horse that is on the wrong lead or crosscantering must be penalized. “Pumping” or bumping of the reins at the canter is not considered good form and shall be penalized.

General
The Walking Horse should move freely in each gait and proceed in a smooth fluid, rhythmic manner. Form is not to be sacrificed for speed. At all gaits, the horse should be flexed at the poll with muzzle slightly tucked. Any tendency to rack, pace, step-pace, trot, fox trot or otherwise deviate from the true walking gaits is not typical of the breed and shall be penalized in judging. All 3 gaits should have equal value when being judged. A horse which is the most allaround ideal individual should be the winner rather than a horse which is outstanding in only one gait. Horses shall be judged for their present performance and not on reputation or past performances. Nosing out, over collection, bad manners or excessive speed without form should be properly penalized in any placing. Refusal to back, balking, mouth gaping, head tossed upwards, or fighting the rider while backing, shall be penalized in the final judging. Excessive bumping or jerking of the reins while backing shall be penalized. It is important to remember that gait and overstride are what set the Walking Horse apart from other breeds and the goal is to reward the best gaited horse in the class. Therefore, a horse may not necessarily be discounted on the basis of mistakes made when overall quality of that horse’s gaits is exceptional.

Divisions

Country Pleasure Classes
The Country Pleasure horse should display true pleasure qualities, along with the natural gaits of the Tennessee Walking Horse; a Country Pleasure horse should never have a tendency to rack, pace or trot. Front leg animation (lift) is not desirable and headshake is not required to be as deep as that of the other Walking horse divisions. The Country Pleasure horse should exhibit a balanced, smooth, four-cornered, gliding flat walk and the running walk. The canter should be relaxed and consistent with no sign of effort from the exhibitor. Manners are paramount in this division. The Country Pleasure horse must be ridden with a light or relaxed rein contact. The Country Pleasure horse should stand quietly in the lineup. The Country Pleasure horse may be ridden English or Western (as determined by the class description), but not a combination of both. Riders may use two hands with English or Western, but must then maintain 2-hand rein hold throughout duration of class. Cavessons are allowed in English classes only. The Country Pleasure horse may cross-enter into All Day Pleasure classes, but not cross-enter into Trail Pleasure or Lite Shod classes at the same show. (Exception: all Versatility, Model, Showmanship and Equitation). Country Pleasure classes may be offered as either 2 gait or 3 gait. The Country Pleasure division may be Youth, Amateur, Amateur Owned and Trained or Open (as determined by show management).

Trail Pleasure Classes
The Trail Pleasure horse must perform the true walking gaits efficiently and with effortlessness geared toward encouraging stamina and longevity as a pleasant, working saddle horse. The flat walk should be performed as described above (see "Gaits" section) and the running walk as described above. The horse should exhibit a true, four beat walking gait with pronounced and cadenced head nod. The horse should be well balanced, in that not one element of the horse should stand out from all other qualities when considering gait, form, rhythm or conformation. A horse exhibiting a crampy or gimmicky way of going must be excused. Animation and action are not desired in a Trail Pleasure horse. The front legs should not break higher than 45 degrees from the vertical. The ideal Trail Pleasure horse will reach out in front and pull with its shoulders. The front legs can move close to the ground as long as the power is coming from a loose shoulder and the horse has head shake and is square and on four corners. The Trail Pleasure horse should be on the bit and not strung out in frame. It should carry its head in a natural and relaxed position. The horse must be extremely well mannered, responsive and quiet. The horse must be manageable on a light rein at all gaits. The horse must stand quietly and back readily on command. Trail Pleasure horses may be asked for a halt at any time during the class to demonstrate manners and a willing attitude. The Trail Pleasure horse’s canter should be relaxed and consistent with no sign of effort from the rider. Additionally, if specified on the class list, Trail Pleasure horses will be asked to do a Trail Walk as the last gait called for both ways of the ring. The Trail Walk is a true walk with a loose rein and no appearance of strain on the part of the horse or rider. The appearance should be that of a pleasure riding horse that is relaxed, content, and manageable. Trail Pleasure horses are not allowed to cross-enter into All Day Pleasure, Country Pleasure, or Lite Shod classes at the same show. (Exception: all Versatility, Model, Showmanship and Equitation). The Trail Pleasure class may be a two or three gaited class. Trail Pleasure classes may be Youth, Amateur, Amateur Owned and Trained or Open (as determined by show management). The Trail Pleasure horse may be ridden English or Western, (as determined by the class description), but not a combination of both.

Lite Shod Pleasure Classes
The Lite Shod Pleasure horse should display brilliance and show presence while performing true walking gaits. The horse should be collected and well balanced, in that not one element of the horse should stand out from all other qualities when considering gait form, rhythm or conformation. Compared to the Trail Pleasure horse, the ideal Lite Shod Pleasure horse should have a higher head carriage and exert more energy through collection while maintaining its walking ability and overall presence. The flat walk should be performed as described in Section 10.11 (B) and the running walk as described above (see "Gaits" section). The Lite Shod Pleasure horse should break higher with its front legs than a Trail Pleasure horse in all gaits and should not be penalized for this unless it appears unnatural to the horse or out of balance with all other elements of the horse. Form is not to be sacrificed for speed. Manners are paramount for a pleasure horse and should be given serious consideration in judging. The horse should have an alert and willing attitude, be manageable with light to medium rein contact, and must back readily. Any evidence of being behind the bit should be penalized. Lite shod Pleasure horses are not allowed to cross enter into Trail Pleasure, Country Pleasure nor All Day Pleasure divisions at the same show. (Exception: all Versatility, Model, Showmanship and Equitation). The Lite Shod Pleasure class may be a two or three gaited class. Lite Shod Pleasure classes may be Youth, Amateur, Amateur Owned and Trained or Open as determined by show management. The Lite Shod Pleasure horse may be ridden English or Western as determined by the class, but not a combination of both.

Plantation Pleasure Classes
The Plantation Pleasure horse should perform the true walking gaits and in the same manner as described above for the Lite Shod pleasure horse and the Park Lite Shod pleasure horse. The major difference between a Plantation Pleasure horse and the Park Lite Shod pleasure horse and Lite Shod pleasure horse is the larger shoe allowed in the Plantation Pleasure division, which may produce a more animated and powerful-appearing gait than all other divisions. The Plantation Pleasure horse should still perform its gaits effortlessly without the appearance of laboring. Plantation Pleasure horses are not allowed to cross-enter into All Day Pleasure, Country Pleasure, Trail Pleasure, Lite Shod or Park Lite Shod divisions at the same show. (Exception: Spotted Saddle horse classes and all Versatility, Model, Showmanship and Equitation). The Plantation Pleasure class may be a two or three gaited class. Plantation Pleasure classes may be Youth, Amateur, Amateur Owned and Trained or Open as determined by show management. The Plantation Pleasure horse may be ridden English or Western (as determined by the class), but not a combination of both.

All Day Pleasure Classes
The All Day Pleasure division is open to all gaited breeds and may be may be ridden English or Western (as determined by the class description), but not a combination of both. Neat attire is required and should include a collared shirt, long pants, and heeled boots. Exhibitors wearing show attire shall not be favored by the judge. If an ADP horse is exhibited in Western tack, the rider may use two hands on the reins, but both hands shall remain on the reins the duration of the class. Braided manes or forelocks are not required. Exhibitors are not required to hold Amateur cards. These classes will allow up to a 3/4” wide by 3/8” thick shoe and will be judged as Pleasure classes. All Day Pleasure classes may be Youth, Amateur, Amateur Owned and trained or Open as determined by show management. Classes are judged on the horse/rider team that exhibits a true, natural, smooth ride that one would want to ride “all day.” Manners, calmness, obedience, and a smooth, consistent gait are paramount in the All Day Pleasure classes. The All Day Pleasure horse must be ridden with a light or relaxed rein contact. The All Day Pleasure class may be a two or three gaited class. As long as shoeing requirements are met, All Day Pleasure horses are allowed to crossenter into Country Pleasure, however may not cross-enter into Trail Pleasure or Lite Shod classes at the same show. (Exception: all Versatility, Model, Showmanship and Equitation). Required Gaits of All Day Pleasure Classes: Trail Walk: is a true walk with a loose rein and no appearance of strain on the part of the horse or rider. The appearance should be that of a pleasure riding horse that is relaxed, content, and manageable. Pleasure Gait: is to be performed at moderate speed and can be a variation of any saddle horse gait with no preference given to any particular gait over another. The gait should be consistent and balanced and should appear easy and comfortable to ride. Excessive speed is not a desired trait. Manners are paramount in this division. Horses should stand quietly and back readily. Positive credit will be given to horses that display such qualities as responsiveness, steadiness, manners, and traveling on a loose rein. Canter: is on a light rein and of medium to slow speed. Pumping of the reins or anything appearing rushed or out of control shall be severely penalized.

Additional MWHA Class Descriptions

AOT – Amateur Owned & Trained - open to horses that are owned, trained and exhibited by an amateur and/or amateurs within their immediate family; horse cannot be ridden, trained or schooled by a professional trainer 90 days prior to being shown in an AOT class; exhibitor cannot be coached or assisted by a professional trainer at a show (except for holding a horse so the amateur can remove or re-saddle their horse during DQP inspection; immediate family members of a professional trainer cannot shown in AOT classes

OT - Optional Tack - either English or Western, but not a combination of both

Rookie Rider - The rider hasn’t shown a Tennessee Walking Horse in a riding class prior to January 1 of the current year. To be eligible for the Rookie class, an adult must be a MWHA member. Children 17 and under are eligible if the horse is owned by a current MWHA member. The rider will only be eligible for Rookie status through the current show season. The same horse/rider combination must be shown throughout the year. There is no nomination fee for the Rookie Award. Points will be tabulated for the rider/horse combination showing and placing in any TWH class at Minnesota/affiliated horse shows. If the “Rookie” rider chooses to earn points towards other year-end awards in the MWHA High Point Program, they must pay the nomination fee.  Their horse will then be eligible to earn points in their respective divisions (Plantation, Lite Shod, Trail Pleasure, All Day Pleasure and Country Pleasure) at all MWHA approved shows.

Transition from Professional to Amateur – This requires notice to the MWHA board that you are no longer acting as a professional. There is a wait period for one year after the date you stop acting as a professional before you can show as an amateur.