Missouri Fox Trotting Horse, because of its nice disposition and easy
gaits, has trotted its way to popularity and into the hearts of people
throughout America and also many foreign countries during the past few
years. This well-mannered horse with its gentle temperment, beautiful
conformation and free easy gaits, provides a ride that is healthful;
and is the ideal mount for those both young and old who desire the
utmost in satisfaction from horseback riding. Equine lovers who are
inexperienced in handling horses have found the Missouri Fox Trotting
Horse easily managed and have grown to love and admire it.
of Missouri Fox Trotting Horses have been purchased during the past few
years and have been shipped into sections where Missouri Fox Trotting
Horses have never been before. Requests are received almost daily from
owners and riders who do not thoroughly understand the mannerisms of
our breed and as a result the horses are not trained or
ridden in the
manner to which they are accustomed.
begin handling our foals when they are about a week or 10 days old and
teach them not to be afraid of us. They will learn by kind treatment
that we do not intend to hurt them. We enter his stall and paddock at
frequent intervals, pet and handle him, gently rub his legs and pat him
on the nose and ears. He will become accustomed to being handled and
soon be our friend.
are like people, no two are alike, although fundamentally all are about
the same. Missouri Fox Trotting Horses are intelligent animals and very
docile; they invariably respond to kind treatment. You can be good to
your horses and also your foals without spoiling them. However, leave
off all sugar and apple feeding, etc; as this does not make your
animals one bit more gentle nor do they think any more of you. It only
teaches them to bite and be ill-natured.
your foals are about six weeks old put halters on them and begin
teaching them to lead. After they have become used to the halter attach
a four or five foot leadline to the halter. Have an attendant lead the
foal's mother off in front of him and the youngster will follow her.
After a few days the colt will respond to your movements of the
leadline an while following along in the steps of his mother he will
not even realize he has been taught to lead. Be careful not to over
work your foals and do not ever let them get tired.
in mind that every foal demands certain particular attention, because
every foal should be treated as a different individual. However, the
above practices are those which are generally applicable to almost
every foal. If one particular phase or recommendation does not work
with your foals, try another similar method. As the foal grows older we
think he should be led on a loose rein, the attendant holding the rein
some two or three feet from the foal's head, letting it walk naturally.
Former experience has taught us not to lead a foal fast enough to cause
it not to go in a long, loose flatwalk and we never try holding onto a
foal's halter trying to force it to nod.
air and plenty of exercise are good for growing foals. Therefore we let
ours run out practically the year round during the day and night when
the weather is pretty; and put them in the barn or some other good dry
shelter when the weather is cold and bad. After foals are weaned, which
is at about six months of age, we leave our shelter door open so that
foals may come and go at random. A trough is placed in the barn or
shelter where the foals have access to a good balanced grain rationing,
together with a legume hay.
to 24 MONTHS
start to break our young horses at 18-24 months old. At this age they
will range in weight from 800 to 900 pounds and will stand
approximately 14 hands and 3 inches.
like to take our horses completely off the pasture from 30 to 60 days
ahead of time and feed them a good balanced ration. During this time
when the young horses are in the barn and before we begin riding them
they are placed in a stall convenient to a small paddock for use during
pretty weather. During this period a drive bit is used for a short time
each day. Be very careful not to place a young horse in a strain by
reining his head too high or having the side reins too tight at the
beginning. Tighten the reins gradually as the young horse becomes used
to the bitting rig. This helps the young horse get accustomed to having
bits in its mouth, reins on its neck, having something on his back and
also gets him used to a girth. This also helps make it easier for the
rider to set the youngster's head when this part of his education
arrives. About an hour each day is long enough for the average young
horse to have on a bit and saddle as we do not want to tire the horse.
shoe our young horses just before we ride them with plain keg shoes;
the size of the shoe depends on the size of the hoof. After the young
horse has worn a set of shoes for about two months his feet might have
grown too long and will need shortening. We use a regular bridle
equipped with a snaffle bit and it is a good idea to lead the young
horse around a few times after putting the snaffle bit in his mouth in
order for him to become more used to having it in his mouth.
is a good idea to let the young horse smell the saddle before it is
placed on his back, so that he will not be afraid of it. After you have
placed the saddle gently on the young horse's back, let him stand for a
few minutes then lead him around. He will soon find out that the saddle
is not going to hurt him and he will not be afraid of it. When the
young horse has ceased to pay attention to the saddle being on his
back, mount and ride him. Get on his back gently and be as quiet as
possible until he realizes that you intend to ride him. It is a good
idea to have an attendant lead the young horse around with you on his
back. He will soon become used to the idea and will not mind having you
the above procedure for a very short time each day until the young
horse is absolutely at ease with you on his back. After a week or so
take him to a place where there is level ground and hold the reins in
your own hands. Be very careful not to snatch the young horse or pull
up on the reins quick or hard. A young horse's mouth is very tender and
you may scare and hurt him without meaning to in the early stages of
his training. Allow him to walk in one direction, then another and he
will soon learn how to respond to your handling of the reins.
it is generally known, the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse has three
distinctive gaits, the flatwalk, the foxtrot and the canter. Each of
these gaits should be thoroughly understood and recognized by every
Missouri Foxtrotter owner and handler. The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse
is a born fox trotter and while at his
motherï¿½s side he can be seen
performing each of the gaits. To improve and separate these gaits and
to change from one to the other, at the will of the rider, is the sole
task which the trainer finds before him.
GAITS - FLATFOOT WALK
flatfoot walk is the slowest of the three and is the first gait the
Missouri Fox Trotting Horses perform. We ride our young horses in a
flatfoot walk for about 30 to 40 days, around parked automobiles,
tractors, other horses and around objects with which we want them to
become accustomed. The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is fearless and
level headed and once he has learned an object he is not afraid and
does not shy away from it. When we are sure he is not afraid of these
things, we ride him farther away from the barn and in other
surroundings that soon become familiar sights to him. He can be ridden
around over the farm, along the roadside and other places where he will
see moving vehicles. He will soon learn not to be afraid of anything.
riding our young horses four to six weeks in a flatfoot walk they are
fairly bridle-wise. We then remove the snaffle bit, because the colt is
ready for a curb bit. Still using a regular bridle with a curb bit and
a loose chin strap, we ride our young horses over new territory, often
in soft ground. If they feel they are going somewhere they will want to
go on. The flatfoot walk has a speed of from four to five miles an hour
and is performed with much comfort to his rider. With the diagonally
opposed movement of his feet he strikes the ground with his right-fore
and left-rear and left-fore and right-rear.
GAITS - FOXTROT
now allow our young horses to go into a foxtrot. Mount your colt and
ride him in the flatfoot walk for about 10 minutes, or until the colt
begins to relax and take hold. Then add a little more to his walk by
gently urging him on and taking hold of his head slightly tightening up
on the reins. We ride the average young horse only 30 to 40 minutes
Missouri Fox Trot gait is basically a diagonal trot. It is
distinguished from the regular trotting gait by the fact that there are
periods of single leg support. The smoothness of the foxtrot as
compared to the regular trotting gait is the result of two, interacting
factors. First, the regular trot has a fly period between the two
diagonals with all four feet off the ground. This causes the familiar
up and down motion movement of the regular trot. Since the Foxtrotter
always has at least one foot on the ground, there is no fly period and
much of the up and down movements of the body of the horse is obviated.
The better the timing of the up and down movements of the pastern, the
smoother the ride.
Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is not a high stepping horse, but an
extremely sure-footed one; and because of the sliding action of the
rear feet, rather than the hard step of other breeds, the rider
experiences little jarring action and is quite comfortable in the
saddle for long periods of time.
head and tail are slightly elevated, giving the animal a graceful
carriage; and the rhythmic beat of the hooves, along with the nodding
action of the head give the horse an appearance of relaxation and
ideal characteristics of the foxtrot shall be that the horse will
travel with animation, foxtrot rhythm and style. The horse will travel
in a collected manner with an adequate amount of tension on the bit.
foxtrot should carry with it rhythm. The head should nod; the ears
should indicate the step and the tail should be part of the rhythm.
Also, the step should be springy, consistent and smooth. The up and
down motion should not be noticeable, but rather a smooth gliding gait
with a rather loose rein and snaffle bit or at least a smooth loose
curb, low port bit while breaking the young horse. If he does not carry
his head at a good angle at first, do not attempt to get his head high.
Gait him first. If he has a tendency to pace, ride him over poles or in
high grass until he is cured of the pace.
GAITS - CANTER
canter is a natural gait of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse and he
should be allowed to use it in early training. If the young horse is
trained to a nice canter, taught to change leads, it will add to his
value. However, the canter is not necessary for the registration of the
Missouri Fox Trotting Horse.
not pump your horse, but if his head is not properly set he may work
you. When you have had your horse going along in a good smooth flatfoot
walk for several minutes, urge him to increase his speed and let him go
into a foxtrot. Ultimately, you will derive much pleasure from his
smooth gliding foxtrot. When desiring to canter, you must give the cue
which the previous trainer or rider has taught the horse, as the
various trainers have different ways in starting a horse to canter.
Some will swing them on the rail; some will signal them with their foot
behind the fore leg and on the side and some will tell them to canter
by speaking to them. All horses when circled to the left should canter
on the left lead, which means that their left fore foot should be more
extended and when cantering to the right in a circle the right fore
foot should be more extended and should never cross behind. Crossing is
very uncomfortable to the rider and also is very conspicuous to an
onlooker. If your horse starts crossing in the canter, just put him
back in the flatfoot walk and start all over again. Use any type bridle
equipped with a curb bit and be sure the curb strap is not too tight.
When a horse is broke and ready to show or ride for pleasure he works
well without a long shank rough bit.
we are ready to teach our horses to canter we use a gently sloping
rise. Allow your horse to run or lope as slowly as possible up the
rise, gradually slowing and gently raising him with the reins. Give him
his head and when he starts to go to fast, pull him back. Help him to
canter by lifting his head and putting pressure on his mouth. After the
young horse learns to canter at your command on the side of a hill,
ride him on level ground and gradually develop the canter by riding him
in this gait every day. We teach our horses to canter along with the
fox trot, we believe in many instances a
horseï¿½s foxtrot may be improved if he
is taught to canter early in his training period. However, it is
advisable to canter them only for a few minutes each day, because too
much cantering is hard on their legs. Before giving the signal to
canter, always drop your horse back into the flatfoot walk. When we
desire to canter on the left, we pull the left rein and touch the horse
gently with the left foot behind the left foreleg and on the side. We
change our lead by performing the same maneuvers on the opposite side
of the horse and in reverse. Remember to drop back to a flatfoot walk
each time you change leads.
the second part of our young horsesï¿½
training, it is often a good idea to canter a colt in a fairly large
circle and when he finds out he is not going anywhere he will stop
trying to go fast and will soon develop a well established gait. As he
comes sure-footed we continue his training in circles, on the track, on
the sloping ground and in other places.
is very important for every owner of a Missouri Fox Trotting Horse to
thoroughly understand the gaits of his horse and to so develop him. If
at all possible, have a good ground person to watch the performance of
your horse doing the different gaits while you are riding him. They can
tell you when and how to pick up your horse, when you are bitting him
right and tell you at what angle he looks the best and does his best
reaching. A good ground person is able to point out things that are
done wrong during the training period and a horse is usually
straightened out much sooner if two people work together on him.
the flatfoot walk the horse is supposed to walk square and on all four
corners in a 1-2-3-4 movement. A ground person can watch your
horse's movements from the front and
from the rear as well as from the sides while the horse is being
ridden. Watching from front or back, the ground man can tell the rider
if the horse is going too fast, if he is winging or throwing his feet or is unusually wide behind. If the horse winging or wide behind he is not performing the gait correctly and it is better
to take him back to a flatfoot walk and start again. From the side view
your horse is supposed to be moving in an even motion with lots of nodding action.
Missouri Fox Trotting Horses should be exercised daily. If you do not
have time to ride your Missouri Fox Trotting Horse daily, turn them out
in a small paddock for a portion of each day or else work them out on a
long leadline of approximately 20 feet in a circle about you. Either of
these methods will take lots of the play out of your horses and they
will relax and settle down to work quicker. This also keeps the horses
limber. A horse that stands in the stable constantly with no exercise
is prone to be tight and choppy in his gaits.
working our two year olds only a small amount each day, they are fairly
established in their flatfoot walk, foxtrot with only a beginning in
the canter at the end of their first year under saddle. But as the new
year rolls around and our colts are three year olds, we increase their
working time. They are more fully developed, larger in size and heavier
in weight. As we begin to finish our young horses we continue to bring
them out of the barn in a flatfoot walk. We spend plenty of time on
this gait, for although it is the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse it is by
no means the least important.
three year olds we work our horses alternating between the foxtrot and
then the flatfoot walk, because by now one gait will help perfect the
other. Now it is easier for the horse to change from one gait to the
other at the will of the rider. We are also doing more with the canter
and working it in more often with the flatfoot walk and the fox trot.
For more information about the easy riding breed developed in the
Missouri Ozarks, please contact:
Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association
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