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The Missouri Fox Trotter was developed in the rugged Ozarks Mountains during the nineteenth century by settlers who needed smooth riding, durable mounts that could travel at a comfortable, surefooted gait for long distances. When Missouri achieved statehood in 1821, the pioneers who streamed across from the Mississippi River to settle in the Ozarks brought with them their finest possessions; including their best saddle stock. The breeding of this stock was largely Arabian, Morgan, and plantation horses. Later, more American Saddle Bred, Tennessee Walking, and Standard Bred breeding was added. It soon became apparent that horses able to perform the easy broken gait called the "fox trot" were the most useful in the rocky, forest-covered hills of the Ozarks; thus, selective breeding of the fox trot began. Easy-gaited stock imported to America's shores during the colonial era left its genetic imprint on the fox trotting horse in the Ozarks; the American Saddle Horses of Kentucky and the walking horses of Tennessee. Some nineteenth century greats such as the Canadian stallion, Tom Hal, made sizeable contributions to the easy-gaited horses of all three regions. The distinguishing characteristic of the Missouri Fox Trotter is the fox trot gait. The fox trot is basically a diagonal gait, like the trot, but the horse appears to walk with the front legs and trot with the hind legs. Because of the back feet sliding action (rather than the hard step of other breeds), the rider experiences little jarring action and is quite comfortable to sit for longer periods of time without "posting" or "standing" in the saddle. The ability to travel long distances at a comfortable speed of five to eight miles an hour made the Fox Trotting Horse a favorite of the country doctor, sheriff, assessor, and ranchers. Today, the breed is in demand as a pleasure horse, show horse, and for cross-country trail riding. It is often described as the common man's pleasure horse because of its gentle disposition. Missouri ranks number two in the nation in cow/calf operations and Missouri Fox Trotting Horses are historically tied to the grazing cattle industry of the Ozarks. When automobiles made horses almost obsolete in the every day lives of Ozarkians, the Missouri Fox Trotter breed survived largely because of the cattlemen of the region continuing to use and breed them. Old Fox, one of the breed's most influential sires, was a chestnut stallion that spent his adult life trailing cattle in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas early in this century. Many famous families of the Fox Trotting Horse have been known throughout the Ozarks and even to this day, the names of Copper Bottoms, Diamonds, Brimmers, Red Bucks, Chiefs Steel Dusts, Cold Decks, and may others are recognized by horse breeders everywhere. Because of their stamina and smooth ground-covering gait, the Missouri Fox Trotter has become very popular with field trial competitors and those involved in the sport of long distance trail riding. Today, there are approximately 52,500 registered throughout the United States, Canada, Austria, and Germany.

The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse should stand between 14 to 16 hands in height, be of good conformation, and able to carry weight. The animal should stand well on its feet, be erect, and alert. The neck should be graceful and in proportion to length of body and well-joined to the body. The horse should have a neat, clean, intelligently shaped head; pointed ears that are well-shaped; good, large, bright eyes; and a tapered muzzle. The back should be reasonably short and strong; the body deep and well ribbed. The flank should be full and the chest deep and full. The shoulders should be properly sloped and well muscled. The legs should be muscular and well tapered. The foot should be well made, strong, and in proper proportion to the to the size of the horse. The hair should be soft and silky. The Missouri Fox Trotter may appear in the following colors: Bay, black, roan, brown, buckskin, chestnut, gray, palomino, sorrel, tobiano, overo, white, cremello, perlino, champagne, and dun. The Missouri Fox Trot gait is basically a diagonal gait. It may disfigure or overstep its track; provided it travels straight on all four legs and does a true Fox Trot. The ideal characteristic of the Fox Trot shall be that the animal travels with animation, Fox Trot rhythm, and style. The horse will travel in a collected manner. The Fox Trot should carry with it rhythm. The head should nod; the ears should indicate the step and the tail should be part of the rhythm. The step should be springy, consistent, and smooth. The up and down motion should not be not noticeable; but rather a smooth, gliding gait without swinging. The Missouri Fox Trotter also performs a rapid flatfoot walk and a delightful canter or lope.
The Missouri Fox Trotter Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA) was founded in 1948 by fifteen men concerned with preserving this unique breed. After a number of horses were registered in the Douglas County area, a fire destroyed the secretary's home, along with the studbook and the records. Increasing interest in the Missouri Fox Trotter as a show and pleasure horse brought about a reorganization of the breed association in 1958. Today, there are approximately 52,500 registered Missouri Fox Trotters. The Breed's national headquarters and the Hall of Fame are located on a beautiful 71-acre show ground nestled in the hills just outside of Ava, Missouri. The breed association annually hosts a six-day Celebration Show in the fall. The Celebration, which crowns the champions of the breed, has been an exciting annual event since 1959.
Ride a Fox Trotter and find out why it has been called the "horse industry's best kept secret." Come on......"Ride the Glide."

Information provided by: The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association

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