by Judy Van Put
The Missouri Foxtrotter is fast becoming a much-in-demand, go-to breed for those seeking a versatile and athletic all-around horse. Fortunately for those who appreciate these docile and intelligent horses, there is now an opportunity to find a Missouri Foxtrotter for the first time, here in the northeast.
Foxwillow Farm is located in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, high on a hill overlooking the Willowemoc Creek, Livingston Manor, NY. Alix Didrich, farm proprietor, had for more than 20 years, been a successful breeder of Polish Arabian horses, having produced 140 foals under the name of Violet Hill Farm.
About four years ago, Alix was looking for a change. She had suffered from back problems and decided to look into gaited horses. She spent those years doing extensive research on the various breeds, ‘buying and trying’, so to speak, a number of gaited horses. Each had its own wonderful qualities, and she retained a few just for her family’s use, but when she came upon the Missouri Foxtrotter, she found a perfect match.
She learned that unlike most gaited horses, such as the Tennessee Walkinghorse, that has a lateral gait (similar to a pace) the Missouri Foxtrotter has a diagonal gait. And because of this gait, unlike a Tennessee Walkinghorse or Paso Fino, the Foxtrotters do have the ability to trot; giving them the ability to transition more quickly from their fox trot gait to a canter. This versatility is important for a smaller-scale breeder, as these beautiful horses are well suited for a number of venues — whether cutting, reining and working cows; jumping, performing in gymkhana games, or trail riding. Their stamina is such that they can be used in endurance competition as well.
Probably the most important, however, is their temperament. Alix was enthusiastic about many of their attributes: “Sweet, level-headed and very intelligent. They will cook breakfast for you if you ask!” In addition, they are an excellent all-around family horse; their easy disposition made it possible for her young daughter to walk around the paddock with her mother, giving hugs to the new foals, and petting the broodmares.
In her own words, Alix stated what sold her on this 100 percent American breed was “disposition. Their willingness, trainability and natural affinity for people make them the perfect Family Horse…the horse that everyone from oldest to youngest, smallest to tallest will truly enjoy owning.”
She went on to describe the difference between these and other gaited horses, stating “these horses have a proud carriage under saddle…they arch their necks, and while they are not high-steppers like some, they look wonderful as parade horses.”
In addition, Missouri Foxtrotters are colorful — “they come in every color known to the equine color spectrum.”
Alex pointed out the conformation of her horses — relatively compact bodies, with short backs and powerful shoulders — which are in part responsible for their great athleticism and stamina.
That stamina is one of the reasons Alix learned that the Missouri Foxtrotter breed is heavily recruited by the National Park Service out west — having found that the Missouri Foxtrotter makes up the largest percentage of horses used by the National Park Service due to their temperament, agility, endurance and stamina.
Alix related how excited she was when her first Foxtrotter foal was born (March 25, 2013) and was amazed to see the little filly attempting to get to her feet shortly after birth; then watched her stand up and begin to walk just 10 minutes after she was born “…she never even fell once!” and within 20 minutes, began nursing from her dam — from each side. She said she is impressed with how intelligent the foals are, and is very excited about her new venture and her foundation program.
After her research on the breed proved fruitful, Alix began the process of finding just the right stock to begin the foundation for her farm. Careful study and searching found her first broodmares: the beautiful blue roan, known around the barn as the “Angelina Jolie” of horses — Diamond Fox’s Deja Blue, the dam of the black (possibly blue roan) and white filly Foxwillow’s Blue Angel (foaled March 25, 2013), and Mane Gait’s Dreaming Dixie — the cremellow Dreamspinner daughter out of a Danney Joe W bred mare. She is the dam of the smoky black and white filly whose name is Foxwillows Harlequinn, foaled April 16, 2013. Ozark’s Merry Sundance, the homozygous black/white stallion standing at Central Kentucky Foxtrotters in Stamping Ground, KY, sired both 2013 foals.
With a solid breeding program already in place, Foxwillow Farm will be hosting an Open Barn on Aug. 24, 2013. The stallion, Mr. Renegade’s Go Boy, has been invited to the 2013 National Stallion Foxtrotter’s Tour; and Alix plans to attend Equine Affaire in West Springfield, MA.
In addition, Foxwillow Farm is planning on launching “W.H.E.A.T.” — Willow Hill Equine Assisted Therapy” pending a 501 c.3, that will include a special scholarship program for local children who desire to learn to ride but cannot afford the expense of traditional riding lessons. WHEAT will afford these children the opportunity to ‘earn’ lessons and riding time through the local school and public library programs. For further information on this, or on the Foxwillow Missouri Foxtrotters, please visit www.foxwillowfarm.com or call 845-798-0083.
FoxWillow Farm Missouri Foxtrotters
by Judy Van Put