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The Missouri Foxtrotter

The hallmark of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is the Fox Trot, an extremely sure-footed, smooth gait, that can be maintained over long distances without tiring the horse. It is a broken diagonal gait in which the front legs exhibit a long reach and the rear legs glide into place, often "capping", or overstepping the front track. The rhythm is unmistakable as the front foot hits the ground a split second before the opposite (diagonal) rear foot. The break in rhythm may be somewhat variable from horse to horse.

Fox Trotters also perform a fast, rhythmic flat walk and a rolling canter.

A distinct breed since
the 18th Century

Though fox trotting horses have been recognized the world over for centuries, only since the mid-18th century, when Ozark Mountain settlers began to carefully select breeding stock, has the Missouri Fox Trotters began to develop into distinct breed. Bred to be a smooth, sure-footed riding horse that could cover rocky, hazardous ground, the Fox Trotter emerged into a mount unsurpassed for the demands of the terrain.

Visit these Missouri Foxtrotter Associations:

Foxtrotter Station
Missouri Foxtrotting Horse Breed Association
Missouri Foxtrotter Connection

Many breeds have been credited with contributing to Missouri Fox Trotter bloodlines. From the available plantation horses of the region at the time, including Narragansett and Canadian Pacers, to horses from what were to become American Saddle bred, Standard bred and Tennessee Walking Horse lines, to Morgan, Thoroughbred and Arabian strains, breeders chose the best of what was available to eventually establish the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse we know today.

No concrete conformation

Because it is relatively new as a breed and because of the variable influences that went into developing the Missouri Fox Trotter, there is no concrete "type." Conformation tends to range from stock horse type to Morgan, etc., but the overall appearance should always be one of balance, athleticism and agility. Height ranges from 14 to 16 hands, weight around 1000 pounds.

Fox Trotters are to exhibit good conformation, with a graceful, slightly arched neck joining just above the points of the shoulder, cleanly tapered head and muzzle, large, bright, wide-set eyes and well-shaped, pointed ears. A strong reasonably short back, deep body, chest and flank, and well-sloped and muscular shoulder with tapering, well muscled legs and strong, properly-sized feet complete the picture of a good Fox Trotting Horse.

Though all colors are accepted, sorrels are the most common, followed by palominos, then grays.

A versatile horse

The Missouri Fox Trotter carries his head and tail slightly aloft, nodding in time to the rhythm of the gait. Graceful and relaxed, he is a versatile horse that looks good doing anything from riding herd on cattle to covering long distances in riding competitions. Considering that some lines trace their ancestry back to the same horses that helped found the American Quarter Horse breed, it's little surprise that these horses show a lot of "cow."

Fox Trotters excel in distance riding and are the favorites among U.S Forest Service personnel in rough terrain areas, such as the Rocky Mountains, for their strength, stamina and smooth riding gaits.

The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association was formed in 1948, to preserve the breed. As the breed grew in popularity the association was reorganized in 1958. In 1981 the American Horse Show Association officially recognized the breed and began offering specific classes for horses to be shown in two or three gaits (including canter). Today appreciation for the breed has escalated with nearly 50,000 horses registered throughout the U.S. Canada, Austria and Germany. The national headquarters remains near Ava, Missouri, where annual shows and celebrations are held.