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What is a Missouri Fox Trotter?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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The Missouri Fox Trotter is a breed of gaited horse which is probably most famous for its distinctive and very unique four beat gait known as the fox trot. These horses are especially common in their native Missouri, although breeders can be found in other regions of the United States, and they are also exported in limited numbers to Europe. Missouri Fox Trotters are very versatile horses which can be used for riding or driving and in a wide variety of disciplines.

Riders in the 19th century developed the Missouri Fox Trotter out of a desire to have a gaited horse with an especially smooth gait and a lot of stamina. These horses were developed in the Ozarks, integrating bloodlines for several other gaited horse breeds along with the American Quarterhorse. Missouri Fox Trotters today come in a range of colors, range from 14 to 16 hands tall, and have very muscular hind quarters.

Recognition of the unique Fox Trotter breed occurred in the mid 20th century, when several organizations worked together to promote awareness of this gaited horse and to preserve the bloodlines. As of 1983, the studbook has been closed, which means that in order to be registered as a Missouri Fox Trotter, a horse's parents must both be registered. This is designed to preserve the breed standard and history of this American horse.

In addition for having a unique gait, the Fox Trotter is known for being an extremely surefooted, sound horse with a lot of stamina. These horses are also very comfortable around livestock, reflecting the fact that they were bred as working ranch horses, and they are extremely gentle and friendly. Someone who is inexperienced with horses can ride a Missouri Fox Trotter with confidence, as these horses are very attuned to their riders, and the fox trot gait is extremely comfortable.

When a horse fox trots, it almost seems to walk with the front legs and trot with the rear legs, sliding them forward with a gliding motion. The result is an extremely even, smooth gait. Unlike a lot of gaited horses, the Missouri Fox Trotter is not a showy horse with flashy gaits, but rather a steady, dependable animal which often nods its head or twitches its ears in time with the mellow, pleasant gait.

Missouri Fox Trotters continue to be used on working ranches and farms, and they are also used in various sport horse events, including jumping, and as pleasure and equitation horses. Many mounted rangers also ride Missouri Fox Trotters, taking advantage of the comfort of the ambling gait to make long days in the saddle more enjoyable.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Missouri Fox Trotter?

The Missouri Fox Trotter is a horse breed renowned for its smooth, rhythmic gait known as the "fox trot." This gait is characterized by the horse walking with its front legs and trotting with its hind legs, providing a comfortable ride for long distances. Originating from the Missouri Ozarks, this breed is versatile, excelling in trail riding, shows, and as a workhorse.

What makes the Missouri Fox Trotter's gait unique?

The fox trot gait of the Missouri Fox Trotter is unique due to its diagonal movement, where the horse lifts its front foot slightly before its opposite hind foot, creating a distinctive broken rhythm. This motion results in reduced jostling and a smooth ride, making it highly sought after for trail riding and endurance events.

How is the Missouri Fox Trotter used today?

Today, the Missouri Fox Trotter is used for a variety of activities, including trail riding, competitive events, and as a show horse. Its sure-footedness and stamina make it an excellent choice for rough terrain, while its gentle disposition and trainability are appreciated in family settings and therapeutic riding programs.

What are the physical characteristics of a Missouri Fox Trotter?

A Missouri Fox Trotter typically stands between 14 and 16 hands high and has a muscular build. They possess a broad chest, sloping shoulders, and a short back, which contribute to their strength and agility. Their coat comes in many colors, with bay, chestnut, and sorrel being common. Their expressive eyes and well-shaped ears add to their appeal.

How do you care for a Missouri Fox Trotter?

Caring for a Missouri Fox Trotter involves regular exercise to maintain their muscle tone and stamina. They require a balanced diet, routine veterinary check-ups, and proper hoof care. Due to their sociable nature, they thrive on interaction with humans and other horses, and they benefit from mental stimulation through training and varied activities.

Are Missouri Fox Trotters suitable for beginner riders?

Missouri Fox Trotters are often suitable for beginner riders due to their gentle temperament and steady gait, which provides a secure and comfortable ride. Their intelligence and willingness to learn make them responsive to training, and they are known for their patience and forgiving nature, which can be especially beneficial for those new to horseback riding.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
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