Conformation of the Missouri Fox Trotter

The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse has become one of the most beautiful horses alive today. When judging conformation do not just pick the fattest horse, pick the one that is the most correct. If a horse does not have the correct conformation to be a top performance horse then that horse is not the model of the fox trotting breed. To judge the conformation of a horse one must look at the different parts of the horse before looking at the whole. The parts of the horse that should be looked at are the feet, legs, chest, barrel, hind quarters, neck, head, and the over all proportions.

While being judged, the front leg should be set so that the front of the foot is directly under the point of the shoulder. The horse's rear leg should be set so the leg will be vertical from the hock down to the rear ankle. The horse's head should be high enough that the point of the nose is level with the top of the withers. The feet of the horse should be centered under its ankles, and should point straight ahead. The legs should be straight when looked at from the front and the rear. The knees, when looked at from the side, should not be bent nor bowed.

The shoulders of the horse should be well defined with the neck joining just above the points of the shoulders. The slope of the shoulder is measured from the point of the shoulder to the top of the withers, and should be near forty-seven degrees. The neck joins over the shoulders and should have some arch to it. The head should taper and not be narrow and long. The bridge of the horse's head should not dish nor bow out. The bridge should be straight and the muzzle should be tapered. The eyes should be set wide on the sides of the head, and the teeth should meet evenly.

The chest of the horse should be well defined showing muscle extending down the inside of the legs. The withers should be over the girth and as high as the top of the rump. The back of the horse should be flat with a small crease down the center. The barrel of the horse should be the deepest at the girth and should taper up slowly to the flank. The flank should extend back past the start of the rump. This makes a horse "short on top and long underneath." The hips of the horse should be full, and muscle should extend down the inside of the rear leg. The croup line, measured from the hip bone to the muscle just over the hock, should be long. The rear legs should have some crook, but not so much as to prevent the horse from having an easy break over. If the hind quarters are correct, a vertical line touching back of the hock and ankle will just touch the point of the hip.

On a balanced horse, the neck, from the pole of the head to the top of the withers, the back, from the top of the withers to the start of the rump, and the croup, from the point of the hip to the lower end of the muscle above the hock, will be of the same length. The finer points of proportions can be shown pictures and diagrams.

copyright © 1996 Rick Watson, Watson Stables