More than a century ago, the settlers and pioneers of the Ozarks needed a sure-footed, easy-traveling horse that could perform the varied and often grueling work their way of life demanded. Those requirements included plowing fields, hauling logs and working cattle in rugged, rocky Ozarks terrain. And when the day was done, that same horse had to serve as the family’s stylish buggy and riding horse.
As people migrated west from the hills and plantations of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, they brought with them their finest possessions, including their best saddle stock.
These breeds were largely Arabian, Morgan, and plantation horses from the Deep South. Later, American Saddlebred, Tennessee Walking Horse and Standardbred blood was added to the stock, resulting in a horse with a more pleasing appearance and disposition. This versatile animal, able to travel great distances at a comfortable, ground-covering gait (five to eight miles an hour), made the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse a favorite of the country doctor, sheriff, assessor and stock raiser.
Today, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is described as every person’s pleasure horse because of its gentle disposition and its comfortable ride. The breed is in demand for use in pleasure, show, versatility, trail riding, cross-country and endurance. Ninety percent of registered Missouri Fox Trotters are owned by people who use them for trail and pleasure riding as well as competition and endurance riding. The Missouri Fox Trotter is also used by hunters and National Forestry Service rangers for its endurance and surefootedness in rugged terrain; ranchers for its versatility and intelligence; and on Hollywood movie sets because of its gentle nature. And last, but certainly not least, the Missouri Fox Trotter is an acclaimed show horse, exhibiting great beauty and style in the ring.
In 2002, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse was honored by being named the official state horse of Missouri.