Shining Mountain Foxtrotters

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What We Look For in a Shining Mountain Foxtrotter

One of the first considerations that we look at in a horse is temperament. If a horse doesn’t have a good, basic disposition, it is no fun to ride it, no matter the gaits or “looks”. We want an animal with a good mind, willing to learn, and to work with. Dangerous dispositions just aren’t worth having around. Any time one is working with a 1,000lb animal, good temperament is very important.

Of course gait is another prime consideration. We want our horses to have a natural foxtrot gait and 4 beat walk. It is much easier to really train a horse to do what you want it for, if you aren’t continually worrying about getting the “right” gait. We like a smooth, easy to ride way of going, which is a pleasure to the rider. We like a horse to be able to move out at a good rate at a walk or foxtrot. We also want a horse to do a regular, slow walk when asked. An easy, smooth canter or lope is also much appreciated.

We like a squarely built, medium muscled horse, with a good hindquarter and fairly short, but strong back. In the last few years, we have noticed a trend in some show lines to produce Foxtrotters with big front ends, long backs, and not much hindquarter. If you look at some of these horses, it is very obvious that the hindquarter doesn’t match the size of the rest of the horse. Instead of being divided into thirds as is more proper, these horses are 3/4 front and midsection, and 1/4 for the rear end.

While this may produce the desired “big lick” in front desired in the show ring, the rear end is used mostly for balance. While this type of horse may be fine on the flat, it is no good when it comes to climbing mountains with anything on its back. The rear end of the horse is its ENGINE, and on the mountain trails we ride, no ENGINE, you walk! If you are a trail rider, be aware of how your potential trail horse is put together, especially if you plan to ride in any mountainous terrain. NO ENGINE, NO HORSE ! It is also of primary importance to select for soundness in the legs and feet. Many lameness problems can be traced back to poor structural conformation. Just as in a house, if you have a solid, sound foundation, chances are things are going to stay put together for a long period of time

Most of our horses are medium size,14.2 to 15.3H. We have found a moderate size horse does better in the mountains. Big horses are fine in some places, but try riding them on game trails,or along narrow ledges, or to load an Elk on a 17 H horse! Our hunting buddy is 6’2” and weighs 225 lbs. the horse he rides is 15h., and has no problem with the weight or size. My husband is about 225 lbs, and his favorite mare is 14.3, and powerfully built. Carrying him is a cinch for her. There is no truth to the idea that it takes a “TALL” horse to haul a big person. If a horse has a powerful, athletic build, they will have no problem hauling a load.

To go with all of the above, we like a horse that is pleasing to look at, has a pretty head, a nice, expressive big eye, well defined throatlatch, and nice length of neck. You hear people say all the time, “well, ya don’t ride the head”! That may be, but if you own it, you have to look at it all the time. If you have all the rest, why not have pleasing to look at too? There is no reason a good horse has to be ugly. We like ‘em good AND pretty.


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