Horse Breeds Native to America

The Missouri Fox Trotter

The Missouri Fox Trotter is another indigenous American breed that has been developed to produce a gait that is fast, comfortable but not excessively tiring for either horse or rider.

It has three natural gaits: an easy-going walk, a comfortable, fluid 'foxtrot' and a free-flowing canter.

Missouri Fox Trotter(70018)Credit: Wikimedia - Author Kayla Oakes

Its 'foxtrot' is made up of a diagonal four-beat trot. There is no need to 'post' (rise up and down in the stirrups) to this gait. It is so smooth that the rider can stay seated comfortably.

The breed developed in the early 19th century in the Missouri and Arkansas regions. Early colonists moving to the Ozarks from Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Illinois needed a sure-footed, comfortable horse which could travel all day at a reasonable over quite mountainous country, perform all the tasks necessary round a homestead or ranch and still look good as a buggy or riding horse.

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Morgan, Thoroughbred and Barb were crossed with local horses. Later infusions of Saddlebred and Tennessee Walking horse enhanced the fox trot gait and made it more elegant. At one time, fox trotters were raced but when racing was made illegal, it became a utility, all purpose horse. The stud book was founded in 1948 when a breed association was formed. In 1973 the group became a membership organisation. After 1983, the registry became a 'closed book' and horses approved for registration now need to have both parents permanently registered with the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA).

In 2002, it became the Official State Horse of Missouri. In 2004, under the umbrella of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association, a registry was open to accommodate fox trotters over 44 inches in height (11 hh) and less than 56 inches (14hh).

This breed is tough, sound and speedy. He has great stamina and can go all day. The action is not as high as that of the Saddlebred and the Tennessee Walking horse. Its disposition is tractable, sensible and kind. A willing worker, it is versatile and suited to a range of equestrian activities.

It is acclaimed as a show horse but most owners love it for its comfort and gentle nature as a trail and pleasure horse. Its versatility is such that it performs in most equestrian activities. Its sure-footedness has earned it an enviable reputation with hunters, forest rangers and ranchers and it also performs in endurance riding.

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It is a substantial horse with a well formed neck carried rather low. The withers are quite prominent, the back short and level and the tail fairly low set. The limbs are rather fine with large well formed joints. The feet are well formed and strong.

The head is in good proportion to the body with an intelligent expression but rather plain and on the long side. The profile is straight. The eyes are generous and kind and the muzzle neat and square with open nostrils.

The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is now found throughout the United States and is also at home in Canada, the Middle East, Europe and beyond. As it is now the 'Official State Horse' of Missouri, its will surely gain more recognition both at home and abroad.