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Choosing a Missouri Fox Trotter

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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During the 19th century, settlers of the Ozark mountains needed some way to travel over the rugged terrain at a comfortable pace. Sheriffs, surveyors and others taming the wilderness needed a smooth riding, durable horse that could go long distances. From this need, the Missouri Fox Trotter was eventually developed.

History & Origin

In 1821, when Missouri achieved statehood, settlers from Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia brought their saddle horses. These horses could perform a broken gait called the fox trot, which was useful in the rocky Ozarks. The horse could trot between 5 and 8 miles an hour relatively smoothly, which made traveling less arduous for local officials, ranchers, hunters, and others. This natural ability of these saddle horses led to selective breeding, to further develop this trait.

Although automobiles made horses largely obsolete, the Missouri Fox Trotter was still necessary to cattle ranchers, who continued to breed them. In 1948, a group of horse breeders joined together with the express purpose of preserving and standardizing the Missouri Fox Trotter.

Until 1982, various horses were allowed as foundation stock but as of January 1, 1982, future registrants were required to have both their sire and dam registered.

As the name implies, the most distinguishing characteristic of the Missouri Fox Trotter is the gait. The fox trot occurs when the front feet walk and the hind feet trot. This is a rhythmic gait and the horse can maintain this gait for long periods of time.

Appearance

The Missouri Fox Trotter is 14 to 16 hands tall with a straight profile. The ears are pointed and the eyes are large and expressive. The neck is well formed and the withers are pronounced. The Missouri Fox Trotter has a high set tail, broad and deep chest and sloped shoulders.

The Missouri Fox Trotter is available in a variety of colors such as chestnut, black, bay, gray, piebald and skewbald.

Ability & Aptitude

The Missouri Fox Trotter was originally developed as a mode of transportation but now is used as a pleasure horse and show horse. The breed has stamina and soundness as well as being gentle. This makes the Missouri Fox Trotter a great horse for children and beginning riders. The fox trot gait results in a smooth gait that reduces bouncing often experienced by new riders. This horse is unequaled in providing a smooth ride in rugged terrain and is an excellent horse for trail rides.

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