Missouri Fox Trotter Horses

Used early on as work horses, Missouri Fox Trotters may now be seen in shows; they're also a common pleasure horse.


Photo Credit: Audrey Pavia


Use: Missouri Fox Trotters are shown in jumping, western classes, parades, gymkhana and competitive trail riding. They are also common as family and pleasure horses, and are known being gentle and good for beginners. Photo by Audrey Pavia.


History: The origins of the Missouri Fox Trotter are in the Missouri Ozarks, where pioneers from Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Virginia and Arkansas settled after Missouri was given statehood in 1821. The horses they brought with them interbred over the decades, resulting in a surefooted horse with considerable stamina able to negotiate the rugged Ozark Mountain terrain. They used these horses to plow, work cattle, haul logs and for general transportation. In time, the breed was given the name Missouri Fox Trotter because of its smooth, four-beat gait. In 1948, an association formed to maintain the breed’s studbook. The association took the name of Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association in 1958, and was reincorporated as a stock company. In 1973, the organization changed to a membership association. The studbook remained open until 1983. Today, Missouri Fox Trotters can be found in all 50 states and Canada. Nearly 50,000 of these horses are currently registered.

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Conformation: The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse usually stands between 14 and 16 hands in height, and averages a weight of between 900 to 1200 pounds. The breed has a graceful neck; a neat, clean, symmetrically shaped head of medium length; pointed ears that are well shaped; eyes that are large, wide set and bright; and a tapered muzzle with large nostrils. The back should be reasonably short and strong. Shoulders should be sloped at a 45 to 50 degree angle, and moderately muscled. Missouri Fox Trotters can be found in palomino, cremello, perlino, chestnut, black, brown, bay, buckskin, gray, roan and pinto. Missouri Fox Trotters are born with the ability to perform the fox trot and the flat foot walk, in addition to the canter. The fox trot is a collected gait that features a walking step in the front and a trotting step behind. The flat foot walk is a four-beat gait that differs from the fox trot in that it features a steady, equal, four-beat cadence produced by the hooves.


Special Considerations/Notes: The Missouri Fox Trotter is the official state horse of the Show Me State.

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