Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Missouri Fox Trotter (MFT)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Missouri Fox Trotter is an American gaited horse breed, which is famous for its unique and comfortable "fox-trot" gait after which it was named. In 2002, the Missouri Fox Trotter was declared the official state horse of Missouri. In addition, in 2004, the pony subtype of the Missouri Fox Trotter was officially recognized as well.

The Missouri Fox Trotter was developed in the 19th century in the Ozark Mountains, by settlers who needed a surefooted and comfortable horse who can easily traverse the local rocky terrain. They mixed a variety of horses from a variety breeds, starting with Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Morgans, and later adding Tennessee Walkers, Standardbreds, and American Saddlebreds, to name a few. Some of the horses that were born from these crosses had a unique gait, which was later called the "fox-trot", and by selectively breeding these horses the Missouri Fox Trotter was eventually created.

The fox trot is a diagonal gait which is unique to Missouri Fox Trotters, and which can generally be described as a sort of a broken trot. During this gait, the horse lifts its front leg of one side, and then the hind leg of the other side, thus creating a diagonal. Like with regular trot, the legs move together while they are in the air. However, unlike with regular trot where both legs hit the ground at the same time, in fox-trot the front leg hits the ground a fraction second before the hind leg. This breaks the diagonal, and makes the fox-trot gait more comfortable and balanced than trot, because there is always a moment where the horse has three legs in contact with the ground.

Missouri Fox Trotters were favored by the residents of the Ozark Mountains for several reasons. First, they had comfortable and steady gaits, which ensured a comfortable and safe journey when crossing rough and bumpy terrains. Second, the speed of their fox-trot gait was equivalent to the speed of an average trot, which meant that the ride was not only comfortable and safe but also relatively quick. Third, the Missouri Fox Trotters had good endurance and soundness, which meant that they were less likely than other breeds to get tired or go lame by walking over the unsteady terrain. Fourth, Missouri Fox Trotters could work well around cattle.

In the 20th century, mechanization processes left horses redundant, a factor which led to the decline of many horse breeds. This wasn't the case with the Missouri Fox Trotter horses though, because they were still favored by cattle workers in the Ozark Mountains, who continued to breed and use their horses. Today, Missouri Fox Trotters are used for pleasure riding, endurance riding, and trekking.

Missouri Fox Trotters come in all colors except for mushroom, and can have a solid or a pinto coat. The patterns of leopard and manchado are not found in this breed. In terms of height, the breed is divided into two subtypes: Missouri Fox Trotter ponies, who stand between 11hh and 14hh, and Missouri Fox Trotter horses, who stand between 14hh and 16hh. Both of these subtypes are found in Horse Isle.


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