What is a Missouri Fox Trotter?

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The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is known best for the comfort it affords it’s rider. Loved as a trail horse, the majority of registered Missouri Fox Trotters are owned by people who use them for trail riding, competition, endurance, and pleasure riding. Acclaimed as a show horse, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is also recognized for its beauty and style in the show ring. Used by hunters and forest rangers for its endurance and surefootedness in rugged terrain, by ranchers for its versatility and intelligence, and on Hollywood movie sets for its gentle nature, the breed has quickly earned its reputation as a horse for all situations.

The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse has three natural gaits: an easy-going flat foot walk, the smooth and comfortable fox trot characteristic of its name, and a relaxed and free-flowing canter. No special shoeing or training is required for these horses to perform their gaits, and their good dispositions and willing attitudes are among their many desirable characteristics, making them one of the most versatile and loved of horse breeds within the equine registries.

Developed from horses in the Missouri Ozarks, the breed is characterized by a gentle demeanor and its signature gait, the fluid, diagonal 4-beat fox trot. Bloodlines can be traced from the horses of early settlers coming to the Ozarks from neighboring states of Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas. Their horses were depended upon for their surefootedness in this mountainous region and their ability to do whatever was needed around the homestead ranging from plowing, hauling logs and working cattle, while at the same time being able to double as a stylish buggy horse or riding horse for the family. Whatever the need, this using horse proved capable and adaptable, later becoming known as the Missouri Fox Trotter.

By 1948 a breed association was formed for this talented horse for the purpose of maintaining an accurate stud book for the breed. In 1958 the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association located in Ava, Missouri was reorganized and reincorporated as a stock company. In 1973 the corporation was changed from a stock company to a membership organization. The Association had kept its registry open for qualifying stock until 1983. After that time, horses approved for registration had to have both parents permanently registered in the MFTHBA, effectively becoming a “closed book” registry.

In 2002, the Missouri Legislature recognized the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse as the Official State Horse, and while we are extremely proud of this honor, the Missouri Fox Trotter is at home in all 50 states, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and beyond.

Surefooted in mountainous terrain, gentle in temperament, and smooth of gait for the comfort of both horse and rider, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed’s motto today is “To Ride One Is To Own One.”

Learn More About the Breed at MFTHBA