The Missouri Fox Trotter is a breed of horse that is from, you guessed it, Missouri in the United States. It was developed in the Ozark Mountains by a group of settlers in the early 19th century and it was quickly formed into a gaited breed that was appreciated for its stock horse abilities, which include stamina and smooth gaits.
It performs an ambling gait which is commonly known as the ‘fox trot’ and the main breed registry was begun in 1948 and as of 2012 registers almost 100,000 horses. In 1992 a European registry was begun and in 2009 there were around 600 Fox Trotters registered on the continent.
The Missouri Fox Trotter was developed by settlers who brought their horses from Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia to Missouri. Plenty of different breeds contributed to the Fox Trotter including the Arabian, American Saddlebred, Morgan, Tennessee Walking Horse and the Standardbred. By the time of Missouri's statehood in 1821, the horses of the state were known for their unique gait, which was useful in the rocky terrain of the Ozark Mountains.
Their smooth gaits and their ability to work well with cattle made them very popular among cattlemen and in 1948 the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA) was founded. The first Fox Trotters were exported to Europe in the 1950s, when the Queen of England imported several palomino-colored horses.
Missouri Fox Trotters tend to stand at around 14 to 16 hands high and weigh around 900 to 1,200 pounds. Begun in 2004, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association also maintains a separate registry for fox trotting ponies standing between 11 and 14 hands.
When it comes to color Fox Trotters can be any solid color or pinto and white facial and leg markings are common. They have a straight facial profile with a medium length neck that ends in pronounced withers. Fox Trotters also tend to be muscular with sloped shoulders and a short back with sturdy legs.
These horses are used extensively by trail riders, who appreciate their gaits, stamina and weight carrying abilities. They are also used a lot in handicapped riding programs, and their smooth gait has proven useful for riders with minor physical disabilities.