Missouri Fox Trotter Article and Photos Copyrighted - see credits below
The Missouri Fox Trotter can maintain its unique gait for very long periods of time with a minimum of expended energy. The sliding action of the hind feet minimize the concussion and the rider is carried quite comfortably. The Fox Trotter can maintain his gait easily at 5 to 8 miles per hour. Over short distances the Missouri Fox Trotter can go at 10 miles per hour.
This breed is almost two centuries old and was developed by early settlers and pioneers in the Ozark Mountains, a plateau covering Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas.
Settlers came from neighboring states like Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and they depended on their horses surefootedness in the rough mountains and on their ability to do whatever was needed around the homestead, plowing, hauling logs, working cattle, or serve as a buggy horse or as a riding horse for the family.
Missouri was always high in the production of cattle and this horse is linked to the Ozark’s cattle industry.
The first breed association for the Fox Trotter was formed as early as 1948. Then in 1958, the need for a reorganization spurred the lovers of these horses to the foundation and reincorporation of the current Missouri Fox Trotter Horse Breed Association.
FOX TROT ANYONE?
The gait of the Missouri Fox Trotter is unique, with the front end going at a slow speed, something like a walk, and the hind at a faster trot, although the Missouri Fox Trot remains a diagonal gait. The Fox Trotting Horse is not a high-stepping horse, but a very sure-footed one.
Because of the sliding action of the rear feet, the rider experiences little jarring action, but a really comfortable ride, ideal for long hours in the saddle.
The ideal qualities of the Fox Trot are animation, rhythm, style, and a collected manner. The head should nod, the step be springy, consistent and smooth. No up-and-down motion should be noticeable, but rather a smooth gliding gait without swinging.
In the days of the Old West, old-timers cherished this gait much as people do today. The head and tail are slightly elevated and carried gracefully; and the rhythmic beat of the hooves and the nodding action of the head give a relaxed and poised appearance to the Missouri Fox Trotter.
The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse should stand 14 to 16 hands in height, be of correct conformation, and able to carry the weight of a mature man. The animal should be wide awake and alert, with a graceful neck, a neat, clean, intelligently-shaped head; pointed and well-shaped ears, good, large, bright eyes; and a tapered muzzle. The back of the Missouri Fox Trotter should be short and strong; the body deep, with well-sprung ribs, full flanks, deep chest, and sloping shoulders. The legs should be muscular and well-tapered. The feet should be well-made, strong, and their size in proportion to the size of the horse. The hair should be soft and silky.
The Fox Trot will be performed in a stylish and collected manner. The head motion should always be in time with the movement of the feet, with relaxed ears. The tail will be carried naturally elevated and should be in rhythm with the Fox Trot beat. The natural rhythm of the Missouri Fox Trotter starts at the tip of the nose and goes all the way back to the tip of the tail in one continuous motion.
The breed has two natural gaits beside the smooth Fox Trot the Missouri Fox Trotter is known for: a long-strided and easy-going flat-footed walk, and the “rocking horse” canter. No special shoeing or training is required for these horses to perform their gaits. Their good disposition and willingness make them one of the most versatile breeds in the equine industry
The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is known best for the comfort if affords its rider. Loved as a trail horse, 90 percent of the registered Missouri Fox Trotters are owned by people who use them for trail riding, endurance riding, and pleasure riding. Acclaimed as a show horse, the Missouri Fox Trotting horse is also recognized for its beauty and style in the show ring.
In show competition, the Trotter is shown at the fox trot, flat walk and canter. The performance is judged on the ratio of 40 percent for the fox trot, 20 percent for the flat walk, 20 percent for the canter and 20 percent on conformation. The Missouri Fox Trotter is generally shown in western equipment, and is also used to work cattle, in jumping, or in light harness.
All colors occur, including spotted colors. Chestnut is the most common color, with some red roans also being found.
The US Forest Rangers in the huge Yellowstone-Park are riding Missouri Fox Trotting Horses; they picked this breed for its unique traits.
The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse was named The State Horse of Missouri.