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All About Shadow

Updated on March 24, 2014

This is Shadow

One of two Tennessee Walking Horses (TWH for short) at Epic Farms and our resident PDQ (Professional Drama Queen). His lens is designed to give you some insight into the Walking Horse breed as well as talk about himself (his most favoritist subject :o)

Walking Horses are very well known for their smooth gliding gait, known as the "running walk". Bred by plantation owners who spent long hours in the saddle, Walking Horses are extremely gentle and make excellent trail horses. They also have wonderfully kind and generous hearts, as we have learned firsthand from our boy Shadow.

The History of the Walking Horse

Did you know the Walking Horse breed was created by accident? Bred to fill a need for transportation both under saddle and in harness, the Walking Horse was a combination of American Saddlebred (for style), Morgan (strength), Standardbred (endurance) and Thoroughbred (speed). Because they were used extensively for plantation supervision, the nickname "Plantation Horse" was born.

The foundation stallion for the Tennessee Walking Horse was named Allan F-1. He was considered a failure as a trotter and changed owners again and again until he was purchased by a man named James Brantley in 1903 at the age of 17. In the hands of a proper trainer, Allan exceeded Brantley's expectations and the resulting crosses between Allan and Brantley's mares produced outstanding sons. A registry for the Tennessee Walking Horse was established in 1935, listing Allan F-1 as the foundation sire.

The Walking Horse Today

Today's Tennessee Walker stands approximately 15-16 hands and comes in all different coat colors. They are one of the most versatile breeds of horses and are capable of many different disciplines. Their smooth gaits make them wonderful pleasure and trail riding horses and their nature is calm and inordinately kind; an excellent choice for the novice rider.

The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration has been facing more and more controversy in recent years, due to reports of soring (see next module for more information). The National Walking Horse Association (NWHA) was established in recent years by a group of people committed to preserving and fostering the natural abilities and welfare of the Walking Horse. It is located in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Origin of Soring

Soring began quite by accident back in the early days of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed. Shortly after the breed association was established in 1935, Walking Horses became one of the most sought after breeds on the market. Prices soared their popularity increased.

In the 1950s, the Walking Horse industry hit a slump. It was about this time that a trainer discovered that mustard oil (a caustic agent) applied to his horse's legs, caused him to step livelier. At the next show, his horse all but flew around the arena with his feet snapping off the ground as if they were on fire. Eyes rolling, he would barely set his foot on the ground before snatching it back up again. The crowd absolutely loved it. People quickly began experimenting, and before too much time had passed "everybody" was doing it.

The spectators went wild for the action and the judges clearly favored those horses with the flying feet. It didn't take too long for this vicious cycle to become "the new norm". For more information on soring, please visit this lens.

Plastic wrap (photo left) is used to help blistering agents be better absorbed by the skin, and chains are put on as an additional irritant.

Gaiting Horses the Right Way

Gaits from God
Gaits from God

I have not seen this DVD (it's on my wishlist), but I do know that Brenda's website offers some marvelous information for anyone interested in enhancing their horse's gait naturally.


Shadow's Story

A Bit of Background

Shadow and Champ (both Tennessee Walking Horses) were 8 1/2 years old when we got them. They had been living together way out in the country for about 2 years before we came along. Nice, quiet - no traffic - country living.

We had been told by their owner that he had purchased the two horses together from a woman in Florida who had them for about a year. She had gotten Shadow around the age of 5 from "a big show farm" where he had been used for showing and for stud. Unable to control him, the woman had him gelded thinking it would calm him down (this did not solve the problem, of course, so she then sold him to the man we got him from). So here is his history as we knew it at the time of purchase:

* Birth - Age 4 on a large farm and used for show and at stud

* Age 5 - 6 owned by a woman in Florida who had him gelded

* Age 6 - 8 1/2 owned by a farmer in rural Alabama

The Meltdown

One afternoon, while Shadow and Champ were eating I thought I would rake up some of the leaves that were all over the ground near the hitching post. I picked up the rake intending to show Shadow (so I didn't scare him) before I started working. The second I picked up the rake and turned to face him, he exploded. He let out a horrible scream, reared straight up and threw himself backwards hard enough to snap that heavy post like it was a twig.

What I saw next was even more frightening: Shadow had scrambled backwards still attached to the ring on the broken post with an additional center piece of wood that was now splintered and pointing straight out towards the opposite post with Champ still attached! I'm pretty sure my heart stopped for a moment. After considerable time speaking in soothing tones, I was able to approach Shadow (who was breathing like a freight train and trembling from head to toe) and my daughter was able to unhook Champ before anyone was physically hurt.

The Aftermath

We didn't sell Shadow, although it was a very close call there (because who wants a lunatic for a horse?) Fortunately, it was only a short while later that I stumbled across some information on the dark side of the Walking Horse show industry (soring) and suddenly it all became clear. I am so very thankful that we did not sell our main [melodramatic] man, choosing instead to work our way through this crisis one slow and steady step at a time.

Shadow is now the official Ambassador for the Moo Crew both at the farm and on line via avatar, and in spite of everything he has been through just loves to have visitors. He is pictured here talking to one of our board members: "Are you absolutely, positively SURE you didn't bring a treat with you Mrs. Ray-Ray??? None? Not one? What'cha got in the bag there? Anything good?"

An Alter Ego...Really?

We cannot, of course, talk about Shadow without mentioning his bestest friend Blankie. Ever his favorite sidekick, Blankie is the facilitator of his alter ego, SuperShadow.

The day that started it all (Shadow's blanket fettish, which was discovered quite by accident) generated a short story which has been published on its very own lens.

Since you're here and not there, however, here is a picture of Shadow and his most faithful companion for you to see...

We sure do love our Shadow! - (of course we love all our other horses too :o)

Look Who Else is a Tennessee Walker

(Shadow's name dropping :o)

...and... - (He's also claimed "breed bragging rights")

Shadow wants to know what you thought of his lens - (But be easy on him, he's terribly sensitive :o)

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    • RoxanneFaith profile image


      4 years ago from Tennessee

      This is a great story and happy ending. Sadly not all become happy endings. I have been in the heart of the industry of Walking Horse shows. One, I wish the judges would change how they pick the horses which in return would make it easier for the trainers to not use devices that the public is appalled to. Two, sadly no one realizes that there are more worse things going on with other breeds than one can imagine. Three, one day the industry may become a whole again instead of picked apart, down graded, and there will be shows people will be happy to attend. Shadow, you are in a great place and I wish you well in the rest of your life. Happy Trails my friend.

    • blue22d profile image


      4 years ago

      Great story you have shared making a very interesting lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 

      4 years ago from Texas USA

      Great lens. I enjoyed learning about Shadow. I'm sorry for his negative experience. Just put this new-thing-learned on my list of negatives about human nature and move on. Saddening, really. Congrats on lotd.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I am so glad Shadow has a good home now. We had a Walker for years Muscles was also a victim of soreing. He was the most gentle loving stud i have ever known. As was our 18 year old 5 gated saddlebred.

    • Lionrhod profile image


      4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Oh wow. What an amazing story. Thank you so much for writing it. I grew up with my own Shetland pony (a gift from my horse-trainer aunt - not well received from my parents but they dealt for many years) and adored him. After Foxy was attacked by neighborhood dogs, (huge vet bills) and he'd run off for the 30th time to chase the local mares (even though he was gelded) my parents sold my dear best friend to a pony ride place when I was about 16. He was about the same age. Yes I cried. A lot. Two years ago, before we moved back to FL, I almost made friends with a beautiful mustang paint mare.Terrified of humans, not so terrified of pickups with hay in the back. She kept showing up in the field near my house, and I slowly befriended her. At first I couldn't get within yards. Eventually she dared close enough to sniff my ear. I barely breathed! Then Stardust's owners found her. Just as well as we ended up having to move back to FL temporarily because of Mom-in-law's Alzheimer's and Starry would have needed to be re-homed if I'd adopted her. I hope Shadow is well. What an awesome tribute to him.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Shadow, I really love your story.I had never heard of Gaited Horses, but I have not been around horses much.The thought of Soring just hurts my heart.I don't understand why someone would do any harm to an animal of any kind,I believe they are gifts from the Good Lord,and should be treated accordingly.

    • EpicFarms profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @GrammieOlivia: He was, at some point, beaten by someone with a rake. This detestable practice is known as "stewarding" a horse. I'll never understand how people can be so hateful towards God's wonderful creatures.

    • EpicFarms profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Thank you SO much everyone, for all your lovely comments! Shadow was tickled pink when I told him that his lens was selected as LoTD. It's probably a good thing he doesn't wear hats, as I am pretty sure his head size increased exponentially following that announcement.

      He has, of course, taken this as a clear confirmation of his own awesomeness ;o)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Beautiful, inspiring lens. A sad life but redemption given by Epic Farms

    • Lozola profile image


      4 years ago

      A very well written lens, loved the photos!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      So glad you didn't dispose of Shadow because of the rake incident. Soring sounds a disgusting practice. Enjoyed your story.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Great lens, but why was he afraid of the rake? I'm getting a picture in my mind and I hope it's not at all correct! Please let me know, thanks!

    • jmchaconne profile image


      4 years ago

      Shadow reminds me of my horse Dancer. I bought him at an auction when I was 15 years old for $75. Nobody wanted him; he was 17 hands, two white front fetlocks, and a handful of sorrel dynamite. The Soring reminded me of his condition, which is called 'Roaring' left laryngeal hemiplegia. I thought he was just high and mean spirited. I won his trust and took many 4H blue ribbons with him, in many Western classes, especially the races, including barrel, pretty difficult for a horse that big. A Veterinarian saw us at a show, diagnosed him, and offered to do the surgery for free. Happily, he never lost his spirit, and I never thought he was mean. He was a much more comfortable horse afterwards. Thank you for a great lens, and a great story that brought back memories, and inspiration for a 'Dancer' Lens. Unfortunately, I didn't have access to a camera back then and I have no photos, except the one in my mind. I loved drawing horses, and havenâtâ done so since a boy, but Iâm going to try and draw him for the lens. He was a beauty and the best horse I've ever known. At that age, I was proud that no one dared ride him, which brought me much admiration and a confidence boost as a rider and horseman.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Really interesting and very well put together lens! Thanks a lot!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Terrific lens. Congratulations on LotD!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I love all horses, and I had heard about the terrible things done to Tennessee Walkers to make them step lively. Anything that is cruel to any animal is wrong. Horses are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment, because they are so large, people tend to think they should be insensitive, when actually they are very sensitive to wrong handling. Beautiful lens about Shadow. Going to read about soring now, even though I really don't want to. Thanks for sharing!

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      A lovely story. I got a real feel for your and your horse. That's perfect.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      4 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      awesome lens, awesome horse! Congrats on LOTD too! nice to see you on a Sunday morning. :)

    • delia-delia profile image


      4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Great lens! Shadow is blessed to be part of your life... I cried seeing the photo of soring. When I lived in Missouri I went to my first TWH show, I left crying. All Equine breeds have their issues brought on by JUDGES that favor something and everyone wants to be part of it. I bred Arabians for 15 years and quit because what went on in the industry...this happens in ALL ANIMAL breeds, when a human-being thinks they can do better then God! JMO

      By the way, when I was just a young girl I got to meet Trigger, Silver and all the rest of the photos you have here.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      4 years ago from Concord VA

      Shadow, I love your lens and learning all about the TWH! You are beautiful! Congratulations on LotD! :)

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 years ago from Canada

      Congratulations on LOTD. Your horse stories are beautifully written and this article so deserved this award.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 

      4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Apparently soring is still an issue with trotters. Well done on your LOTD and in your efforts to stop this crazy practice! You certainly deserve to be supported in this.

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Nice lens! This reminds me of Steven Spielberg's film "War Horse".

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      4 years ago from Colorado

      People sure do sad things to animals. I'm glad you gave Shadow a new lease on life. Enjoyed learning about the breed. Had no idea Trigger and Silver were TWH. Now I want a Tennessee Walking Horse. Congrats on Lens of the Day!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 

      4 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Well again I've learned something new here today Thanks for your beautiful story and pictures. :)Congratulations on LOTD!!!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 years ago from Canada

      I love the old western photos. Beautiful. Shadow too.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I didn't realize TWH lifted their legs because of soring. I read/heard that weights were attached to the legs, and during showtime they were removed, and the horse, used to heavier legs, lifted his feet higher.

      Learn something new every day.

      Soring - how sad!

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      6 years ago

      I loved your lens Shadow and your mama for writing it. Blessed

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love stories with happy endings!

    • Shana rios Chavez profile image

      Shana rios Chavez 

      6 years ago

      great lens

    • eccles1 profile image


      9 years ago

      Shadow is a beauty !! nice lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Dear Shadow, I know you dont need me to tell you how lucky you are to have been adopted by Jen!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a wonderful horse Shadow is. I think we can all learn from this horse, and his wonderful owners! Even though he has had a very traumatic past, he continues to love. Even though he is a little eccentric, his owners have worked WITH him to help him. Bless you all, you are inspirations to everyone!!

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      9 years ago

      There's my handsome baby! I think his lens makes him look stellar!


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