Missouri Fox Trotter

Like many gaited breeds, Fox Trotters are known for their gentleness, willingness to please, and extreme intelligence. They have a lot of common sense and can be taught to do many different things.

 History of the Missouri Fox Trotter

The following excerpt was taken from the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association.

More than a century ago, the settlers and pioneers of the Ozarks needed a sure-footed, easy-traveling horse that could perform the varied and often grueling work their way of life demanded. Those requirements included plowing fields, hauling logs and working cattle in rugged, rocky Ozarks terrain. And when the day was done, that same horse had to serve as the family’s stylish buggy and riding horse.

As people migrated west from the hills and plantations of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, they brought with them their finest possessions, including their best saddle stock.

These breeds were largely Arabian, Morgan, and plantation horses from the Deep South. Later, American Saddlebred, Tennessee Walking Horse and Standardbred blood was added to the stock, resulting in a horse with a more pleasing appearance and disposition. This versatile animal, able to travel great distances at a comfortable, ground-covering gait (five to eight miles an hour), made the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse a favorite of the country doctor, sheriff, assessor and stock raiser.

Today, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is described as every person’s pleasure horse because of its gentle disposition and its comfortable ride. The breed is in demand for use in pleasure, show, versatility, trail riding, cross-country and endurance. Ninety percent of registered Missouri Fox Trotters are owned by people who use them for trail and pleasure riding as well as competition and endurance riding. The Missouri Fox Trotter is also used by hunters and National Forestry Service rangers for its endurance and surefootedness in rugged terrain; ranchers for its versatility and intelligence; and on Hollywood movie sets because of its gentle nature. And last, but certainly not least, the Missouri Fox Trotter is an acclaimed show horse, exhibiting great beauty and style in the ring.

In 2002, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse was honored by being named the official state horse of Missouri. 

General Confirmation

The Following Information from www.Equitrekking.com explains what the general conformation characteristics of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse:

According to Joyce Graening, President of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA)...

The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse generally stands between 14 and 16 hands in height, and averages between 900 and 1200 pounds. The horse should stand well on its feet, be erect, wide awake and alert–with a graceful neck, in proportion to length of body, and joined to the body in a manner pleasing to the eye. The fox trotting horse should have a neat, clean, symmetrically shaped head of medium length; pointed ears that are well shaped; eyes that are large, wide set and bright; and a tapered muzzle with large nostrils.

- The back should be reasonably short and strong, the body deep and the ribs well-sprung.
- The flank should be sleek, and the chest deep and full.
- The shoulders should be sloped at a 45 to 50 degree angle, and moderately muscled.
- The legs should be muscular and tapered.
- The foot should be well made, strong and in proper proportion to the size of the horse.

The overall condition of the horse should be reflected by its demeanor, body weight, muscular definition and tone, hair coat, and the feet. In form to function, good conformation permits the gaits to be performed in the proper manner. Proper conditioning and correct conformation will permit the horse to carry weight for an extended amount of time in comfort to the rider. During movement, the horse should exhibit rhythm throughout his body, from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail and carry a rooster tail.

The Missouri Fox Trotter has three natural gaits:

  • An easy-going flat foot walk (similar to the Tennessee Walking Horse Flat Walk)
  • A smooth and comfortable fox trot 
  • A relaxed and free-flowing canter


The Following Video is an excellent visualization of the Fox Trotter Gaits

In this video...

Gaited Horse Trainer, Ivy Schexnayder, shows the differences between the Pace and the Foxtrot.

Picture 1: A Fox Trotter and his rider working cattle in the field / photo credit: Free Rein Designs, Retrieved Nov 6, 2017 from http://www.equitrekking.com/articles/entry/missouri-fox-trotter-breed/
Picture 2: A Foxtrotter under saddle in a show / photo credit: Steve Mayfield Photography, Retrieved Nov 6, 2017 from http://www.equitrekking.com/articles/entry/missouri-fox-trotter-breed/
Video 1 Credit: Lisa Kimbrell Hutchinson, "How To Achieve Gaits of A Missouri Fox Trotter- Flat Foot Walk & Foxtrot", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKQ0qnSVyfA, Retrieved Nov 6, 2017
Video 2 Credit: Ivy Schexnayder, "About the Foxtrot - explaining the difference between the foxtrot and the stepping pace, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9x29h7cCYc, Retrieved Nov 6, 2017

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