The Missouri Fox Trotter is a breed of naturally gaited horse
from the Ozarks that is most famous for its fox trotting gait
of walking with its front feet while trotting with its back
feet in a broken, yet gliding motion. Trail riders are rapidly
discovering what U.S. Forest Rangers have known for years
Missouri Fox Trotters have no equal when it comes to an easy,
sure footed ride on hazardous or mountainous terrain. They
are especially common in their native Missouri, but have world
wide appeal. Missouri Fox Trotters are very versatile horses
found in a wide variety of disciplines, including jumping,
pleasure and equitation. These horses are historically tied
to the grazing cattle industry of the Ozarks and continue
to be used on working ranches and farms. In 2002, the Missouri
Fox Trotting Horse became the Official State Horse of Missouri.
The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse was developed in the rugged
Ozark hills during the 19th century out of a desire to have
a sure footed, smooth gaited horse that could travel long
distances through this mountainous region quickly. They also
needed the ability to do whatever was needed such as plowing,
hauling logs and working cattle; yet be able to double as
a stylish buggy horse or riding horse.
Their pedigrees can be traced to the horses of early settlers
coming to the Ozarks from neighboring states of Kentucky,
Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas. Bloodlines from several
other gaited horses, such as the American Saddle Horses and
the Tennessee Walkers along with the American Quarter Horse
are in their ancestry. It soon became apparent that horses
with the, broken, sliding gait were the most useful in the
rocky hills, and selective breeding for the fox trot gait
began. Later the horses became known as Missouri Fox Trotters,
though other names have been used such as Missouri Fox Trotting
Horse or simply, Fox Trotter.
A breed association was formed in 1948 by fifteen men who
were concerned with preserving this unique breed before it
was irretrievably lost and maintaining an accurate stud book.
Much progress was made, but in 1955 the Secretary’s home burned
and with it the stud book and all the records they had. In
1958, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA)
was reorganized and reincorporated as a stockholder company.
In 1973 the corporation was changed from a stockholding company
to a membership organization. It became a closed book registry
in 1983 and foals have to have both parents registered in
the MFTHBA. This is designed to preserve the breed standard
and history of this American horse. Currently, over 90,000
horses have been placed in the Official Record with more than
42,283 registered Missouri Fox Trotters living in the United
States and Canada.
In May of 2004, MFTHBA Board of Directors recognized the
need to specifically register and record Fox Trotting horses
that were between 44 and 56 , and The Missouri Fox Trotting
Pony Registry (MFTPR) was created as a part of the MFTHBA.
No further information is available at this time on what the
ancestry of these smaller Fox Trotters may have been.
The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse comes in a wide range of
colors; and. generally stands between 14 and 16 hands in height,
with a pony version between 11 and 14 hands. Individuals may
average 900 to 1200 pounds. The neck should be graceful with
a neat, clean, symmetrically shaped head of medium length;
pointed ears; large, bright, wide set eyes; and a tapered
muzzle with large nostrils. The back should be reasonably
short and strong, the body deep and the ribs well sprung.
The foot should be well made, strong and in proper proportion
to the size of the horse. Good conformation permits their
special gaits to be performed in the proper manner.
Unlike a lot of gaited horses, the Missouri Fox Trotter is
not a showy horse with high stepping flashy gaits, but rather
a steady, dependable, sure footed animal which often nods
its head in time with the pleasant gait. The head and tail
are slightly elevated and the rhythmic beat of the hooves
along with the nodding action of the head give the appearance
of relaxation and poise. The movement is smooth and consistent
with no noticeable up and down motion. No special shoeing
or training is required for these 3 natural born gaits.
The breed’s signature Fox Trot is a broken diagonal gait
performed by walking in front and trotting behind, with reach
in each stride. The rhythm begins at the tip of the nose with
a characteristic headshake and continues back through the
ripple of the tail. There is no excessive animation, nor exaggerated
knee motion but the back feet have a sliding action resulting
from the horse breaking at the hocks. The front hoof of the
diagonal pair strikes the ground just before the rear hoof,
and one front hoof is on the ground at all times in the correct
fox trot. The head is slightly elevated with a rhythmic motion
matching the rear foot movement. The raised tail emphasizes
the rhythm naturally. The gait is extremely comfortable and
surefooted, and the horse can maintain it for long periods
of time with little fatigue.
The Flat Foot Walk is a rapid flat, four beat gait performed
in a square, stylish manner. It is distinctly different from
the fox trot which has a broken rhythm. A correctly performed
flat foot walk has the sound of an equal four beat cadence
produced by the hooves. The head shake is more animated than
in the fox trot and it gives a smooth ride.
The Canter is a three beat gait and is performed in a straight,
collected manner with head and tail slightly raised. The three
beat gait is has a rocking, or rolling, motion, starting from
the outside rear foot, to the inside rear outside front landing
together, and then to the inside front foot. The head is at
its lowest point when the inside front foot is on the ground.
It is not fast moving gait, and the horse should appear relaxed.
Missouri Fox Trotters make excellent mounts for children
and beginning riders because of their friendly, quiet, gentle
dispositions and willingness to please. A person who is inexperienced
with horses can ride a Missouri Fox Trotter with confidence
since these horses are quite attuned to their riders and the
smooth gait makes them easier to ride than the hard trotting
gait of a standard horse.
Author Resource:-> Crystal writes for http://www.HorseClicks.com,
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