Gaited Western Horses


Missouri Fox Trotters

A MFT Gelding showing in Bareback Equitation.

Missouri Foxtrotters are an excellant example of why they don't belong in either the English or Western Division but in either a divison of their own or in the Other Performance Class.

Like other gaited breeds, MFT's are primarily judged on the proper execution of their natural gaits. Foxtrotters perform three gaits; the flat wlak, the fox trot and the canter. The walk is performed as a true, four beat gait, with the hind legs overstriding the tracks made by the front legs. When foxtrotting the horse will walk in front and trot behind. There is sliding action of the hindquarters along with a great reach in each stride. They do not high step and in any gait the head and tail are gracefully arched while there is a noticable bobbing of the head with each stride. The canter is performed in a collected manner with a rolling motion. MFT's are shown naturally with plain shoes and without artifical devices. In championship classes the horse is asked for tack to be stripped to access conformation.

Tack
Western saddles with horns are required. Bridles are to be of the browband variety with or without cavessons. True western bridles are permitted. Colored browbands are considered appropriate. Bits should be of grazing, snaffle, curb, halfbreed or hackamore type. Chain curbs are permissible but must be 11/2" wide. Shoes are to be natural and not weigh over 22 ozs. Foxtrotters are typically shown in buckstitched western saddles with a walking horse bridle and butterfly ribbons that match the browband and often the saddle pad. White is the most seen color for ribbons and pads. Rust colored saddles are most typical and often do not match the color of the bridle. The bridle often is dark brown. Silver saddles are rare but are not forbidden. Colored browbands and cavesson bands fronts are the norm and coorinate with the ribbons and the saddle pad. The S-curb of the walking horse is the most popular. A western curb bit on a walking horse bridle is sometimes seen. Forbidden are pads, action devices, false tails, switches, tail braces. No inhumane bits, martingales, tie-downs, or wire curbs can be used.

Riders
Male riders typically wear a suit with a contrasting yoke. Cowboy hats are standard as are boots. Women show a great deal more variation from typical western attire to riding habits. Women riders do not usually wear hats through some in western dress will wear a cowboy hat.

MFT showing under western saddle. Note rider does not need chaps but they are not penalized if they are worn

Reference
USFE Rulebook
NWHA Rulebook
MFT Rulebook

Photo Credit:
Upper Photo: Mardi Gras, MFT Gelding, OF Breyer, owned by Traci Durrell Khalife with doll and bridle by Traci.

Bottom photo: SLM Ramblin Red Lad, CM Breyer IMC by Suzanne Feld. Tack: Maker unknown. Doll: Off-the-shelf Ben Breyer. Setup owned by Suzanne Feld.


Tennessee Walking Horses

In western classes A bosal may be used in Poles, Barrels, Trail or Reining classes. Any standard western bit may also be used. An S bit may also be used if the horse performs better with it. Equipment approved for either English or Western class is approved for Obstacle Trail classes, but not a combination thereof. Australian stock saddles are not approved equipment in flat shod pleasure or versatility classes.

Some of the recognized gymkhana classes seen in approved TWH Versatility Shows are:
Egg & Spoon – Riders perform various gaits and movements while balance egg in spoon. The last rider to be carrying the egg is the winner.

Musical Sacks – Like musical chairs only rider must dismount and stand on “sack” when music stops, each time music stops, there is one less “Sack”.

Ride-A-Buck – Rider rides bareback with a dollar bill placed under the leg of the rider by the show official. When rider loses dollar bill, they are out. The last rider to still have the dollar bill tucked under their leg is the winner and also gets to keep all of the dollar bills lost by the other riders.

Resources:
TWHBEA Versatility Rulebook
USEA Rulebook