These early strains of the breed were used for racing, as well as all-round farm and riding horses. However, due to religious reasons, the racing stopped and breeders began to produce a new type of horse, one built for endurance, with a smooth gait that could go long distances over rough terrain.
The Missouri Fox Trotter Stud Book was formed in 1948 and the breed quickly gained in popularity, reaching 15,000 registrations by 1978.
The Fox Trot
Careful breeding, and the introduction of Saddlebred blood brought about the characteristic gait called the fox trot. Basically, the fox trot involves the horse walking with the front legs and trotting with the hind legs. The hind hooves literally slide into the track of the forefeet. It's this sliding that makes the gait so comfortable for the rider.
While the Missouri Fox Trotter gets its name from the fox trot, it also has two other gaits -- the four time walk, in which the hind feet overstep the track of the front feet, and the canter.
Characteristics of the Missouri Fox Trotter
The Missouri Fox Trotter stands anywhere from 14 hh to 16 hh. The most common color is chestnut, although any color is permissible in the breed.
The head is delicate with a tapered muzzle. The chest is deep and wide, with the sloped shoulders contributing to the unique "Fox Trot" gait.
The back has to be long enough to accomodate the sliding action of the hind legs. The hind quarters are well muscled and slope from croup to dock.
Uses of the Missouri Fox Trotter
Because of its comfortable gait, the Missouri Fox Trotter is popular as a trail and pleasure horse.
Although the Missouri Fox Trotter is considered a "gaited" horse, unlike the Tennessee Walking Horse and the Saddlebred, it does not have the high stepping gait and is usually shown in Western tack. Missouri Fox Trotter classes are judged 40% for the fox trot and 20% each for the walk, canter and conformation.
The Encyclopedia of the Horse - Elwyn Hartley-Edwards. ISBN 1-56458-614-6