History of the Tennessee Walking Horse
 History Of the Racking Horse
 History Of The Spotted Saddle Horse
A Little Bit of Walking Horse History
Middle Tennessee Horse Shows
The first settlers in Middle Tennessee raced horses as soon as they could take time out from clearing out wilderness to make courses for quarter racing and longer races. It is known that there were races with real running horses by 1804 or earlier. It was decades later before fairs were held to encourage breeding of saddle, harness and draft horses as well as running stock There's recorded results of state and county fairs in the early 1850's. Sumner Co's first fair was held the 5-7, 1853. The winners in the aged stallion for "Bloodhorse" were the famous Albion and Dan Rice. In 1856 there was a state fair at Nashville's fairgrounds. 1st and 2nd were Childe Harold and Stackpole Dan Rice and Stackpole both became sires at the stud of Bigby Stock Co., a concern organized to breed ideal saddle horses plus they had a part thoroughbred McMean's Traveler, founder of a noted Tennessee family of easy gaited saddlehorses.
There were also prizes at the early fairs for trotting stock, pacing stock, best buggy horse or mare pacer and trotting. Also for best saddle horse or mare. The Rev. Tolbert Fanning brought to Tennessee in 1857 the Morgan  Vermont Boy which is an ancestor of Gertrude, the dam of Ron Allen F-38.In the 1850's, a pacing race between 2 fast saddle horses furnished excitement in Wilson Co.  Telegraph, best colt of Copperbotom, and Clipper, first colt of Kittrell's Tom Hal (sire of  Gibson's Tom Hal F-20) paced neck and neck on the mile track until Clipper broke about 50 yds from the finish. Telegraph then came under string about a rod ahead of his rival. Telegraph was the winner.In the 1870's, the saddle horses that raced in pacing races or matches included General Hardee F-21, Locomotive, Joe Bowers, and Pat Malone F-27. Locomotive was a gray son of Tom Hal F-20. Horsemen of that time period say that Locomotive sired some of the best walking horses of his time. Kings Allen F34 and Slippery Allen are descendants of Joe Bowers. In 1887, the first Great Tennessee Fair took place in Nashville. Every type of horse in the area Thoroughbreds, harness and saddlehorses was on the prize list. The winner was Willie G. Miller's Lexington, registered in both the Morgan and American Saddle books was grandsire of the 3rd dam of Merry Go Boy and contributed to the blood of other TWH's. Besides large and small fairs of the 1870's and later, there was a big stock event in the spring known as "Court Day". It was a stock showing and trading day. All sorts of farm animals were bought and sold. Stallions and Jacks were brought to town o be advertised. At shows, 3 Judges would be picked from the crowd. After the worked several classes, they were released and 3 more were picked. Before 1920 and later in many places, the small shows in Middle Tennessee had no classes for the three gaited horses. Until the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration started in 1939, the State Fair was the high court of  honor for the TWH. As far back as 1910, the TWH was called a Plantation Saddle Horse.In 1914, Allen the Second won the class for Plantation stallions 3 and over and won in 1916. Trailing him the first time was Denmark and the second time was Roe's Chief F-35. Allen the Second became known in history as Hunter's Allen F-10, while Denmark is Roan Allen F-38. The Tennessee Walking horse was recognized as a breed by the USDA in 1950.Wilson Allen was a double grandson of Allen F-1. His sire was Roan Allen F-38, his dam, also by Allen F-1, was a dapple gray mare by the name of Birdie Messick. Wilson Allen was a chestnut stallion. He was foaled on a farm in Coffee Co. about 1917.  Wilson Allen was scorned and praised, ignored and sought out but when he died in 1939, he had assured a place in walking horse history.Around 1918, Wilson Allen became the property of Bibb Kirby of Bedford Co. Since the horse lost an eye month's before, he was called "The One Eyed Kirby Horse". Most of the farmers in the community ignored the old horse, others ridiculed him and told other breeders to leave him alone.Mr. Kirby never lost faith in the horse. When he purchased him, on the way home one breeder recognized his qualities and bred a mare to him.The one eyed Kirby horse was offered for service but there were few takers. The fee was $10 with a live foal guarantee. There were other stallions in the area so the one eyed horse didn't catch on. In 1928, Mr. Kirby bought a country store and couldn't take care of his stallion anymore. He put him up for sale and even tried to lease him. He finally sold the horse to Frank Wilson. One person in town was glad to see him go. At his farm, Frank Wilson crossed this stallion with many outstanding mares. The easy gaits of the colts attracted attention in Tennessee and other states.In 1938 Mr. Wilson sold Wilson Allen to Steve Hill and Eph Hoover.  The purchase price was $2500, reflecting the change that had taken place in Walking Horse Industry during the 10 yrs since he was sold for $150. The stud fee was raised to $100, an unheard of price of that time. Wilson Allen lived only a short time after his final sale, but his blood would dominate the breed for decades to come. Strolling Jim was his son and was the first Walking Horse World Grand Champion. Black Allen, registered as Allen F-1, was foaled in 1886 and died in 1910, at the age of 24. His selection as the No. 1 foundation horse was not difficult, as most people agreed that the distinct walking gait came from him.At the first Celebration there were classes for Draft fillies and horse colts, Jennie Mules and Horse mules. Many of the mule colts exhibited were from the best bred walking mares in the area. During the years of WW2, mules disappeared from the program completely. The first celebration was held on an athletic field. The warm up ring was a few yards away from the showring. When one of the important classes was coming up, the warmup ring was likely circled by spectators, watching their favorite, warmup for the class. It was not unheard of for those waging a little bet on the side to watch the horses in the warmup ring before risking their money. The warm up ring was like a second show. Words of encouragement were given while whispers of criticizing greeted the competition.Most hauled their horses in open trucks. The first Celebration lasted 3 days, beginning on Thursday and ending on Saturday. The days were filled with parades, colt shows and ride-a-thon's. Scenic trails were mapped out for trail rides.