Although the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is capable of doing many different gaits, there are three distinct gaits that are considered standard for the breed.
The Flat Foot 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. The rear end movement should be smooth and close to the ground without any snap or pop. 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 shakes in time with its rear feet and 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. A horse that is fox trotting correctly will never have more than two feet off the ground at any given time. 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.
The exceptional rhythm of the fox trotting horse begins at the tip of the nose with the characteristic headshake and continues back through the ripple of the tail. The diagonal nature of the gait is also what makes the Missouri Fox Trotter extremely sure-footed.
The canter is a broken, three-beat gait, and should be performed with collection. In the canter, the feet strike the ground in this sequence: (1) the outside rear foot, (2) the inside rear and outside front, simultaneously, and (3) the inside front. This produces the three-beat cadence.
The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse can perform an athletic lope or a collected rocking chair canter.