|Missouri Fox Trotting Horse|
|The Fox Trotting Horse, a pleasure and using horse, was developed in the rugged Ozark Hills to answer the needs for a horse that could carry a heavy load for long hours at a ground consuming gait and, at the same time, a gait that was easy for both horse and rider. This was a favorite horse for cattlemen, assessors, sheriffs and others who made long rides before the advent of good roads and cars; he was a using horse with an easy gait. He remains such, but too, he became a great pleasure, trail riding, endurance and show horse.
Early settlers poured across the Mississippi River, into the Ozarks, from Kentucky, Virgiia and Tennessee. Naturally these early settlers brought their horses with them, these being what they had; Morgans, Throughbreds, and Arabians with a sprinkling of other light breeds. They had raced them in the states from which they came, therefore, racing became a popular sport here in the Ozarks. When racing was outlawed many years later, the interest turned more to an easy saddle gait. To answer the need for such a gait the fox trot was developed. Thus the erstwhile racehorse became the using horse of the locality.
The distinguishing characteristic of the Fox Trotting Horse was a broken gait, the horse walking with the front feet and trotting with the back feet. The back foot disfigured the track made by the front foot.
The Foxtrotting Horse was not a high-stepping horse but an extremely surefooted one because of his shuffling gait. Further, because of the sliding action of the rear feet, rather than the hard step of other breeds, the rider experienced little jarrig action and was quite comfortable in the saddle for long periods of time.
In order to promote this easy gait, a stallion so gaited was much used and selective breeding of foxtrotters began. Many families of horses were used including Bremmers, Steel Dusts, Cold Decks, Kentucky Whips, Kentucky Hickory, Hickory Boys, Red Bucks, Diamonds, Sea Foams, and many others. These horses took their names from their looks, their qualities, their owners' names and from the fancy of the owners. To the blood of these animals was added the American Saddle Horse breeding. The blood of many of those horses is still with us and flows in the veins of present Fox Trotting Horses.
The story of Fox Trotters would not be complete unless we mentioned a few of the many breeders whose names have been synonymous with good horseflesh since the pioneer days of this section. Some gave their name or the name of a famous sire they owned to a family of horses. Many of these families, all tracing their ancestry back to early sires, having long been known in the Ozarks.
The early Alsups, who settled in the Ozarks before the Civil War, were noted for their good horses and their racing; they were consistent winners. They brought a famous sire and race horse to the Ozarks called Bremmer. This stallion not only was a winner of races but was a potent sire and passed his good qualities on to his sons and daughters during his long life. Many of his sons were used as stallions too. They were a large family of good riding and using horses as well as being race horses. Red Bucks, Popcorns and other families branched from this blood strain, and although there was not a stud book at the time, the horse named Bremmer made horse history in the Ozarks.
The Kissees, another family long noted for good horses, developed such great horses as Old Fox, Deacon, Betty Fox and Old Diamond. The Diamond Horse started a family of Diamonds, the blood of these horses flowed in the veins of many good mares and stallions in this area. To own a Diamond or a Fox strain gave prestige to the owner and his horses.
William Dunn who brought good horses of the Morgan breeding from Illinois and Kentucky to which he added some thoroughbred, was famous during his lifetime for good horses, and those horses are referred to yet as the Dunn breeding. Of the many good horses produced by Dunn, the one that became known was "Old Skip." A potent sire for twenty or more years, he contributed much to the present day Fox Trotting Breed. His colts were of good disposition with a lot of life and staying qualities; nearly every one was a good foxtrotter. If a horse was selling at public sale and it was announced that the animal was sired by Old Skip, the bidding always picked up.
Another horse to be mentioned was an American-bred Saddle stallion of the Denmark strain named "Chief." Brought to Oregon County by Tom Overstreet, Chief was later sold to Lewis Lindley of Thayer, Missouri, his last years were spent with the Morrison brothers. Most of his colts were outstanding fox trotting horses. His blood line, like others, still remains in numerous horses in Howell and adjoining counties.
In addition to the families of Diamonds, Bremmers and the other bloodlines already mentioned, other families such as the Prides, Gold Bugs, and Kings should be named. Stony Williams bred horses called Steel Dusts and Sea Foams. Excellent fox trotters, they left their imprint on horses in the Ozarks area as did Cotham Dare, another well known sire. Dare was brought to this area by Clyde Norman and was registered in the Fox Trot Asssociation on conformaion and gaits. His blood is well mingled in the fox trotting horses of Douglas, Texas, Wright, Ozark and other counties of the Ozarks. Tennessee Walking Horse breed was gradually becoming intermingled in the foxtrotting horse bloodlines after the start of the Association.
Other horses such as Golden Governor, Ozark Golden King and many others have contributed much in this generation. (This history was writen by Mr. C. H. Hubbard several years ago and he is now deceased.)