By Dyan Westvang

It seems every year more and more people are hitting
the trail on horseback to enjoy not only the great
outdoors but the excitement and pleasure of riding a
good horse. Such a growth in equine trail riding has

spawned a number of sports relating to trail.

Competitive Trail competitions, Timed Trail, and
Endurance Trail riding are just a few of the inventive
ways people have devised to make trail riding
interesting, competitive and challenging.

For decades the leading breed in most of these sports
has been the Arab or Arab cross. That is actually as
it should be considering that for well over a thousand
years the Arab was bred to be a horse of great
endurance that stayed sound under adverse conditions
and thrive and survive under grueling conditions.
It’s very survival as a breed depended upon that.

To ride an Arab can be extremely exhilarating and
rewarding, however the ride of the Arab is not always
very smooth and the spirited behavior of the Arab
often requires a rider to climb off and walk the horse
the last distance to the check points in order to get
the horses vitals back down to passing the inspections
required of it.

Recently the Missouri Fox Trotter has been making
headway in these sports. It is not a fluke that they
are doing well. They should do well and in fact COULD
do much better.

When one considers how the Missouri Fox Trotter came
about it may not be obvious at first just how fine the
gene pool that created this breed is. Research of the
breed, however, shows that this breed stems from some
of the finest racing blood the world has ever known.
Racing blood from various types of horse from
gallopers to trotters to pacers. What’s more, the
racing blood that spawned this breed comes from horses
that were expected to race at top speed for distances
up to 18 miles at one heat!

Before these horses came others less renowned but
every bit as good. Horses of the ancient Britains
that traveled over coarse trails or overland up to 80
miles in a day and repeated that feat day in and day
out with no ill affects to either horse or rider!

In short, there is among the genes of the Missouri Fox
Trotter, all the necessary genetic make up to “build”
or develop a superior endurance type animal with the
conformation, talent and ability to perform and excel
at these sports while at the same time delivering a
smooth ride!

Here at our farm we are currently in the second
generation of a breeding program for the development
of just such an animal. Horses that retain their
calm disposition, willingness to perform, and
trainability are our goals along with a horse that can
travel great distances at speed. These horses must
also be able to perform a ground covering foxtrot as
well as being able to canter or gallop.

Currently from the bloodlines we have selected for our
foundation there are four horses competing in
different regions and in various competitive trail
events. These horses are performing remarkably well.

Our program wants to take the ability in that
bloodline and improve upon it. So far our plan is
working. The second generation is getting very close
to what we are searching for. In fact the second
generation horses could go out today and compete
favorably but they are needed here in order to bring
on the third generation.

Within the Foxtrotter breed there are various types of
horse. Some are built more like a Quarter Horse, some
look very Thoroughbredy, some look like Standardbreds
and others may look nearly Andalusian. There are all
sorts of conformation and abilities that today are not
being bred to advantage in the quest for gait.

Gait alone, however, is not a total horse. These
horses are capable of much more and with selective
breeding those different qualities could be brought
out to make the breed one of the most successful in
the world.

We are not big breeders and we don’t dabble in the
politics of the breed. What we do is breed the finest
animals we can with an eye toward how they will best
be put to use. The residual of this breeding program
will be some tremendous trail horses that anyone would
be proud to own and pleased to ride.





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