Missouri Fox Trotter Essay, Research Paper
Missouri Fox Trotter, the common man’s pleasure horse, is both versatile and well-mannered. They are best known for their pleasant gaits and surefootedness. According to the Missouri Fox Trotter Horse Breed Association, this is a “horse of all talents.” (”The Winning Combination”)
The Missouri Fox Trotter Horse should stand fourteen to sixteen hands high (approximately seven to nine feet tall) and able to carry weight. All colors are accepted including pinto and albino, and they usually have white markings. A strong saddle horse, compact and up to weight, its head is attractive and alert, tapering to a small muzzle. (Edwards, Larousse Guide , 196) The withers are pronounced; the back is short and straight; the croup muscular and rounded; the tail set rather high; the chest broad and deep; the shoulders sloped and muscular. The legs are sturdy and well muscled. (Hendricks, 286)
Its uniqueness lies in its ability to execute the strange gait known as the Fox-trot. The Fox-trot is when the horse walks with the front legs and trots with the hind legs. A more technical description is: the horse hits with its hind foot shortly before the diagonal forefoot lands.(Brady, p 50-53) This gait achieves speeds between five and ten mph. The other two natural gaits are the long easy-going flat foot walk and the delightful rocking horse canter.
The Missouri Fox Trotting horse was developed in the rugged Ozark hills about one hundred sixty years ago by the settlers who needed a horse to plow, haul logs, work cattle, and be a stylish buggy horse or riding horse for the family. The pioneers who streamed across the Mississippi River to settle in the Ozarks came mostly from Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.(Hendricks, p285) Naturally, they brought horses that were popular in those areas: Thoroughbred, Arabian, Morgan, and Plantation horses. Later American Saddle horse, Standardbred and Tennessee Walkers were added to improve form and disposition. (”History of the Fox Trotting Horse”) A studbook was opened in 1948 and within thirty years it contained more than 15,000 registrations.(Edwards, Ency of Horse, p.234)
The Missouri Fox Trotter Horse Breeders Association was founded in 1948. After a number of horses were registered in the Douglas County area, a fire destroyed the secretary’s house along with the stud book and records. In 1958, the breeders association was reorganized . (”Missouri Fox Trotting Horse”) Stamina, soundness, and gentle disposition were the pioneers’ consideration in breeding their mares with the fastest stallions available. A number of famous families developed which were named after the founding sires. Founding sires that are known even to this day are: Copper Bottoms, Diamonds, Brimmers, Red Bucks, Chiefs, Steel Dust, Cold Decks, Old Fox, Old Skip,(Edwards, Ency of Horse p234) and the Canadian born stallion Tom Hal, as well as many others. (”Missouri Fox Trotting Horse”) Today there are more than 52,283 registered Missouri Fox Trotters. (”History of Missouri Fox Trotters”)
These horses were the favorite mounts of cattlemen, country doctors, sheriffs, and tax assessors. Now they are used by hunters, forest rangers for their endurance, reliability, and surefootedness in rugged terrain, by ranchers for their versatility and intelligence in working cattle and helping with other jobs around the ranch, and on Hollywood movie sets for their gentle nature. 90% of these registered horses are owned by people who use them for trail riding, competition and endurance riding, and pleasure riding. In the show ring, they are shown in Performance and Model Point Classes as well as Versatility Point Events such as Driving, English Pleasure, Western Pleasure, Trail Classes, and Jumping. (”Winning Combination”)
The Missouri Fox Trotter, one of the oldest American breeds, has both a gentle disposition and smoothness of gait for the comfort of both horse and rider. That is why this common man’s pleasure horse lives up to the breeds’ motto, “To ride one is to own one.” (”Winning Combination”)