I bought my first Fox Trotter in Tomball, Texas in 1995. Her name was Duchess, and she was some kind of fancy. My mom and I fell in love with her on the spot and loaded her up. She was a little more horse than we expected when we got her home, but Duchess ultimately was a big success for us, and we’ve been hooked on this breed ever since.
When James and I began raising and selling horses in 2007, we were so excited and read everything we could get our hands on. We loved the MFTHBA Celebration Books and the Journal. Many web sites and mentors were available. In the past ten years, we’ve learned so much thanks to the hospitality of Fox Trotter owners who are a wonderful group of people.
If you’re new to the breed, here are some tips to help you buy your first Missouri Fox Trotter.
- Do your research. When you prepare to purchase your first Fox Trotter, you have many resources at your disposal. Some of my favorites are the Missouri Fox Trotters 101 and the Missouri Fox Trotter Enthusiasts Facebook groups, the Lee Ziegler book “Easy-Gaited Horses”, The Fox Trot Trackings books, and of course the MFTHBA and Breeder’s Cup events and sites. When you’re ready to show, check out your local show sites and the Horsebarntrail Foxtrotter Performance group on Facebook. For those of us in Texas, the MCC Highlander schooling shows in Waco are super fun and a great place to start.
- Remember that pretty is as pretty does. This goes for all breeds. Get a good grasp of the temperament and experience you need in a horse and select a horse that matches. If you’re new to riding, take lessons. Safe riding is fun riding. No one looks good on the ground (with their horse running free).
- Buy talent (and yes papers matter). You’ll get what you pay for. I’ve had great success buying horses that have been shown successfully in youth classes. This helps you get a good all-around horse. I’ve also had success buying horses from friends I’ve ridden with. So if you go to shows and trail rides and get to see horses in action, you have a much better idea of what you’re buying than if you buy off of the Internet based on a photo/video. Which leads to my next tip.
- Don’t buy off the Internet without trying the horse out in person. The Internet is a great place to find good prospects – but follow up in person. Go to shows and farms near you — and maybe in other states if you can– to look at the horses you like. Then look at their siblings, sons and daughters to see if you like them as well. James and I have made several trips in Texas. Over the years we’ve also travelled to Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee going to horse farms, expos, shows, seminars, clinics and stallion tours. We make a vacation out of it. Sometimes we bring horses and trail ride along the way. We’ve had such great times and met wonderful people! Finding the right horse is worth the trip — and the time.
- Don’t get in a hurry. This breed has a lot of variety, and the perfect horse for you is out there. Try several out from friends, dude ranches, lessons, shows, demos or farms. You’ll learn if what you think you want really is what you want, and you’ll learn to speak the same language as the seller.
I’ve made a few bad decisions but I’ve also been privileged to buy horses that fill my heart. Some of our favorite mounts we lucked into early on. I’m confident that you’ll enjoy the journey and meet the horse of your dreams too. Maybe more than one.
Until next time… Let’s go Fox Trot!