Missouri Fox Trotting Horse

The comfortable breed from the Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas
The "Cowboy’s Rolls Royce" (for Europeans) or “The Cowboy’s Cadillac” (for Americans)

The breed of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is some 180 years old. The early settlers and pioneers originally developed the breed in the Ozark Mountains, a plateau covering southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. The Ozarks are famous for their rough and rocky country. The need for a horse being able to travel long distances in a smooth manner was imminent..

1821 the first settlers crossed the Mississippi river to settle in the Ozarks. Most of them came from Tennessee, Kentucky, or Virginia and brought their horses with them. The typical gait of the Foxtrotter provides a high degree of surefootedness and therefore the settlers started breeding those horses with the “broken walk”.

The name given most specific for this breed is the Foxtrot. All horses of this breed have a natural, genetic ability to perform a 4-beat broken diagonal gait with a distinctive 1-2-3-4 rhythm, that’s created by the horse, moving its front foot a split second before its opposite rear foot. The beauty of a foxtrotting horse is, that there are two or more feet on the ground at all times. On both the front and back ends, the horse will set one foot down as it picks the other foot up, and for a moment both feet will be touching the ground. That´s what makes the gait so smooth, the horse is in contact with the ground at all times – it is the best balanced gait, there is in a horse. Thanks to this gait, the rider hardly feels any movements, making a very long ride always a pleasure in the saddle.The horses walk in front and trot in hind. This extremely safe gait prevents movements for the rider and quick fatigue for the horse.

Other gaits are a fast flat foot walk, a four beat gait, in which each foot is picked up and set down in an even cadence and a very comfortable canter, a broken three-beat gait.

Thanks to these qualities, the Foxtrotter quickly became the favorite horse in the Ozarks. Everyone, traveling long distances, including ranchers, farmers, doctors, sheriffs and tax persons, preferred a Foxtrotter. When motor vehicles took over part of the tasks, the function of the Foxtrotter as all all-around horse began to change. Foxtrotters have always been and still are bred to be used in the cattle business. Quickly they got their nickname: “The Cowboy’s Cadillac”. Despite the increasing availability of cars and trucks, the Foxtrotter is still the most desired horse for hard ranch work, especially in Missouri, the second biggest State in the cattle business.

Trail and pleasure riders as well as the Park- and Forest Rangers all over the United States have discovered the advantages of the Fox Trotting Horse. A Ranger in the Yellowstone National Park will find no better way of traveling, than on the back of a Fox Trotting Horse.

1948 the MFTHBA (Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association) was founded. Back then, breeders often bred both Tennessee Walkers and Missouri Foxtrotters and consequently often stallions were double registered. Eventually, as the Walkers and Foxtrotters intermingled, problems began to arise. Until 1983, the registry was open to any horse that would foxtrot under saddle. Today, more than 100’000 Foxtrotters are registered in  the MFTHBA, in Ava, Mo, from the US, Canada, Israel, Europe and a few from Australia and New Zealand.
Since 1959, The World Championship/ The Celebration takes place every year in Ava, Mo in the first week of September.

History of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse in Europe
The first Foxtrotters in Germany were presented to the public during the Hypologica in 1992. The next event was the Equitana in Essen in 1993. The first Foxtrotters in Europe were imported by the Queen of England in the mid-50s. History refers to them as being Palominos. Starting with the Equitana the number of Foxtrotters has increased steadily, especially in Germany and Austria. Even though the Foxtrotter has become more and more attractive with pleasure riders, there are still only some over 850 (2017) horses in Europe. In addition to Germany, Austria and Switzerland there is a small population in France,
Czech Republic and Spain. Few you see also in Italy, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. 

1996, the first European Championship was started and took place in a biannual mode until 2004. The First European Championship was started in Traunreut, Germany from August 02 -04, 1996. More than 40 horses from Germany, Austria and Switzerland competed in 9 trials with more than 100 classes.

Since then Breeders started in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

2010 the European Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Association (EMFTHA e.V.) started to work together with the Free University of Berlin, to establish the criterion for the European Stud Book of the Missouri Foxtrotter, to maintain and protect the Standard of the Breed, its characteristics and qualities, and to make sure that just horses with the best genetic disposition will be used for breeding high quality, by undergoing Breed Suitability Tests.

2016 the main office of the EMFTHA e.V. moved from Berlin to Koblenz, Germany.

In 2016 the EMFTHA was recognized by the German Government as a Breed Association under EU Law. The EMFTHA maintains the Origin Stud Book of the Missouri Foxtrotter in Europe, in a close co-operation with the MFTHBA, Ava Missouri, the Main Association in the US.

Indication of numbers as per June 2017