Missouri Fox Trotter
The Missouri Fox Trotter. Photo
courtesy of the MFTHBA.
Missouri Fox Trotter Resources
Across America Fox Trotter
Circle H Foxtrotters
Missouri Fox Trotting
Breed Association Inc.
North American Trail
Ridin' High Ranch
Rock'n J Foxtrotters Ranch
Trail Horses of Colorado
Valley Springs Foxtrotters
So, you want to ride the glide? An increasing number of trail riders are taking a close look at smooth movers - gaited horses that carry their riders with nary a bounce or a bobble. That smooth ride, they say, is the essence of real pleasure riding!
Here, we'll offer a brief overview of six popular gaited breeds. We'll cover four all-American breeds: the Missouri Fox Trotter, the Mountain Horse (Rocky Mountain Horse/Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse), the Spotted Saddle Horse, and the Tennessee Walking Horse. We'll also visit two breeds that evolved in Central and South America, but that have received a warm welcome here: the Paso Fino and the Peruvian Horse. For each one, we'll give you history highlights, briefly explain the gaits, and discuss trail-riding talent. Come with us as we journey very smoothly down the trail. (Note: Breeds are listed in alphabetical order.)
Missouri Fox Trotter
History highlights: The Missouri Fox Trotter originated after early settlers traveled west across the Mississippi River and into the Ozark Mountains with horses of Morgan, Arabian, and Thoroughbred blood. In time, those horses' descendants evolved into the versatile, good-minded, smooth-gaited breed of today. The Missouri Fox Trotting Breed Association Inc., based in Ava, Missouri, currently boasts nearly 9,000 members with 85,000 registered horses.
Gliding gaits: According to the MFTBA, the breed has three natural gaits - the flat-foot walk, the smooth "fox trot" that gives the breed its name, and the canter, which riders liken to the motion of a rocking horse.
The fox trot is a "broken gait," that is, the horse walks with his front feet and trots with his hind feet. The back feet shuffle and slide, frequently stepping into the track made by the front feet. This shuffling, as opposed to a hard-step trot, makes the fox trot exceptionally comfortable for riders.
On the trail: "Missouri Fox Trotters combine the athleticism of a Quarter Horse, the stamina of the Arabian, and the smooth gaits of the Tennessee Walking Horse," declares JoAnn Becker of Missouri. "We're stuck on Fox Trotters."
Becker and her husband, George, own 140 Fox Trotters, and offer guided rides at their Valley Springs Foxtrotters. The property, which adjoins the Mark Twain National Forest and the Ozark Trail, offers riders meandering trails through stands of picturesque oak and maple trees by sparkling creeks fed by the Black River.
Bill Hinkebein has owned Missouri Fox Trotters since 1956; he and his wife, Jeanne, have bred and ridden a dynasty of North American Trail Ride Conference champions. Their Fox Trotter stallion, Hickory's Country Gold, is a NATRC Hall of Fame horse with more than 5,000 competitive miles. In 80 events, he marked 43 first-place and 22 second-place finishes. Twenty-five Hinkebein-bred Fox Trotters have logged more than 40,000 competitive miles, and 15 have earned 26 national championships.
A recently retired college department head, Hinkebein still teaches, only now he teaches riding on Missouri Fox Trotters. "They have good structure, with excellent bone and feet, great minds, and my students marvel at their smooth gaits," he says. "The Fox Trotter wants to be your partner on the trail."
MFTBA Trail Committee chairman Paul Martin notes that 90 percent of the members are trail riders. In fact, the association's national show features daily trail rides from the showgrounds. "We want folks to see how terrific Fox Trotters are on the trail," he says. If you already own a Fox Trotter, check out the association's trail programs. "the MFTBA sponsors tow national trail rides in Missouri, and our affiliate clubs sponsor rides across the country, all of the Fox trot America Program, where riders log hours on the trail for year-end prizes," Martin notes.