In the early 1800s, when it was popular to use your regular work horse as a race horse over the weekends, people needed horses that were strong with enough stamina to work all week and run during the weekends.
Just after the Louisiana Purchase, many people travelled south, some to the foothills of Missouri's Ozark Mountains. They took with them horses they already owned, namely Arabians, Thoroughbreds, and Morgans, with the intent of crossing them with horses already in the area to create a perfect work-race horse. They were successful. The resulting horses were hard workers, willing to do what they were asked, whether that be working the farm, pulling a buggy, racing, or riding out on the trails. Settlers also noticed that the horse had developed a broken gait, which made them easier to ride.
|The fox-trot. credit|
Later, Tennessee Walking Horses, Saddlebreds, and Standardbreds were added to the mix, further refining the Ozark horses. The broken gait developed into what is now called the fox-trot, thus the name Missouri Fox Trotter. Breeders selective bred to pass the gait on, and now the breed is synonymous with that unique gait.
The breed was popular among doctors, police officers, and post men due to its smooth gait.
In 1948, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association was founded and opened to any horse that met the requirements. It wasn't until 1983 that the studbook was closed to all except those that had two registered parents. In 2002, the Missouri Fox Trotter became Missouri's state horse.
Breed Description and Uses
Missouri Fox Trotters are compact and muscular, standing 14 to 16 hands high on average. They have wide barrels, sloping shoulders, rounded withers, and a powerful neck. The head has a straight profile, small ears, and expressive eyes. Fox Trotters come in many colors, including bay, chestnut, black, grey, and pinto.
The breed is willing and usually easy to control, making them excellent workers, as well as partners. Today, they are used as endurance horses, ranch horses, or just as pleasure horses.
The fox-trot is a unique and unusually gait in which the front legs walk and the hind legs trot. In addition to the fox-trot, the Fox Trotter has a gentle canter and a smooth, flowing walk.