Horse Breeds Young Rider

Meet the Missouri Fox Trotter

The fox trot is a smooth, broken diagonal gait. Photo by Bob Langrish

Hailing from the Ozarks region of the United States, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is an American original. The breed is known as a superior pleasure horse thanks to its kind temperament, versatility, athleticism, and easy-going nature.

Great Gaits

Missouri Fox Trotters are well-known and prized for their special gaits.

The Flat-footed Walk: A true flat-foot walk is a four-beat gait in which each foot is picked up and set down in an even cadence. With each stride, the back foot should reach forward and slide in as it is set down, over-striding the track of the front foot. The head nods in time with the horse’s rear feet, and this gait should be smooth.

The Fox Trot: The fox trot is a broken diagonal gait with a distinctive rhythm that is created by the horse moving its front foot a split second before its opposite rear foot. The fox trot is a smooth gait because the horse is in contact with the ground at all times. The diagonal nature of the gait is also what makes the breed extremely sure-footed.

Canter: While the breed’s canter is similar to other horses, it’s ideally an athletic and collected canter, sometimes called a “rocking-chair canter.”

A Peek into History

Those nice smooth gaits were beneficial to the breed’s early supporters. The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse was developed in the woodsy, hilly regions of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Early farmers there needed a solid workhorse that could perform farm chores, but could also be a comfortable riding horse for transportation.

Fox Trotters are versatile in many disciplines, including trail and working cattle. Photo by Bob Langrish

A combination of Morgans, Arabians and Thoroughbreds, along with some Standardbreds and Tennessee Walking Horses, created the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse we know today.

At a Glance

Color: Missouri Fox Trotting Horses are found in over two dozen colors, including bay, black, brown, buckskin, champagne, chestnut, dun, gray, palomino and roan, and they can also exhibit patterns of white markings including tobiano, sabino and overo.

Height: They generally stand 14 to 16 hands. The Missouri Fox Trotting Pony Registry registers Missouri Fox Trotting Horses that stand between 11 and 14 hands.

Fast Facts: The breed is Missouri’s official state horse.

The breed is quite versatile and excels in many disciplines, including pleasure, trail, endurance, and pleasure driving. They’re sometimes used for working cattle.

Association: For more information, visit the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association website.

Fox Trotters are versatile in many disciplines, including trail and working cattle. Photo by Bob Langrish

This article about the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse appeared in the May 2021 Mini Digital issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Samantha Johnson

Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and the author of several books, including The Field Guide to Horses, (Voyageur Press, 2009). She raises Welsh Mountain Ponies in northern Wisconsin and is a certified horse show judge. She loves Corgis and shares her home with her Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Peaches.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *