Missouri Fox Trotter


PetMD Editorial

Published Sep. 11, 2008

The Missouri Fox Trotter is a horse breed that originated in the Ozark Mountain Region in Arkansas. It was developed by early settlers in the mountains and has long proven itself a proficient and reliable riding horse. These strong, good-natured horses have found their way into the hearts of forest rangers as their most trusted companions, and are valued by horse lovers for their talented trail riding, and other competitive and leisure activities.


Physical Characteristics

Standing 14 to 16 hands high (56 to 64 inches in height), the Missouri Fox trotter is bred primarily as a riding horse. It comes in chestnut, piebald, skewbald, black, grey, and bay color. Missouri Fox Trotters are of sound conformation, with average but well-developed necks, pronounced withers, straight backs, well-built croups, high-set tails, and powerful shoulders. They also possess good leg structure, with sharp tendons, well-developed joints and shapely hooves. The Fox Trotters are not high-steppers, but they are extremely surefooted, with unmistakable fox trot steps. Their gaits are rhythmic and smooth, and their gallop and walk equally enjoyable to behold. Their tails, as well as their heads, are high-set, giving them poise and grace in action, which also resonates with the horse’s relaxed nature.


Personality and Temperament

The Missouri Fox Trotter has always exhibited a calm, sound temperament with a good nature, alongside command and stamina. Because it is placid, relaxed, and quiet, with good tolerance and enthusiasm for human company, this makes the Missouri Fox Trotter a prime choice for trail riders. This breed is a popular pick with U.S. forest rangers as well, who use Missouri Fox Trotters to find their way through forests and mountains, relying on the horse’s ease of ride and bravery in the face of harsh or dangerous terrains. Moreover, the Fox Trotter’s gait tends to be smoother than other horse-breeds, providing balance and stability to untested riders. All of these combined traits make the Fox Trotter an excellent horse for teaching children and new horse riders to learn to ride with confidence and assurance in their own safety and well-being.

Care and Health

Missouri Fox Trotters are strong horses. Their basic maintenance requirements are daily doses of food to sustain their body’s energy, mineral, vitamin and protein requirements, with additional food management especially for breeding and lactating mares, and needless to say, plenty of exercise. Vaccines to prevent the onset of horse diseases like influenza, strangles, equine viral arthritis, and others are also an essential part of your horse’s good health and well-being.


History and Background

As mentioned, the Missouri Fox Trotter is known to have originated in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Mountain settlers, who wanted horses that could take on the challenge of mountain living, bred and developed Missouri Fox Trotters during the 1800s. These early settlers noted that the most useful horses in the Ozark regions are those with unique gaits and special temperaments, the sort that could traverse the formidable mountainous terrain without fear. It was here that the first selective breeding program for Missouri Fox Trotters was implemented. Other breeds, imported gaited horses like the American saddle horse and the Tennessee walking horse, also came to live in the Ozark Mountains. Despite the introduction of these other horse breeds, the indispensability of the Fox Trotter ensured the breed’s survival and growth.

During the late 1940s, horse breeders established an organization aimed at maintaining a studbook for the horse breed. This organization was to become recognized as the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breeder’s Association in 1958. To date, there are more than 50,000 Missouri Fox Trotters that can be found in many areas of the United States and Canada, and even in some areas of Austria and Germany.

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