Question about Fox Trotters
I know very little about gaited horses in general, and fox trotters in particular.
I recently fell in love with a fox trotter up for sale that was severely abused before his current owners got him. His sad story, beauty, and sweet disposition after all he has been through really struck a cord with me. But my experience is mainly bareback/some english with arabians and TBs.
If I get him, I'll be keeping him for a very long time and I can't afford to have more than one horse. So basically I'm wondering if fox trotters CAN be shown english (particularly dressage). I doubt I'd really ever be able to do much showing but ideally I'd like to have the option available in the years to come.
You can do "dressage" with any horse. If you want to do "Dressage" then you need one that can walk, trot, and canter.
There are actualy special Dressage classes for gaited horses. You should look up some in you area and see if there is any near by.
They can be shown English if you ride in a cutback saddle, in special gaited horse classes. They also have western gaited classes. I jump my gaited horse, so you can do that. Otherwise, normal horse English classes are probably closed.
Gaited dressage is neat stuff. You could try to find some of that.
Any class that specifically calls for a "trot" is out unless you clear it with the show. I was allowed to show my MFT in PtHA western pleasure against QHs, but I had to ask the judge first.
Any class where you don't have a judge saying "trot" or a written pattern requiring you to "trot": jumping, reining, cutting, gaming, etc. you can definitely do. Most shows will allow you to do things like trail, halter, and showmanship. The ones that are tricky are western pleasure, english pleasure, dressage, etc. Under saddle classes where your horse will be judged on his movement at the trot.
Just adding to Guilherme's reply on "any horse can do dressage" which is so very true.
Not always, but most often MFT are shown in Western tack. In definition dressage itself translates to "training". Therefore any horse can be trained in the dressage movements, for example, 10 and 20 meter circles, spiraling, flying lead changes, tempe, piaffe, passage, etc. In the technical sense, Dressage requires the horse to have a walk, "bounce" trot and canter. The "bounce" trot is a true gait and not a gaited sequence of leg movement. However, MFT go very well in English tack and can be ridden "on the bit" in a true snaffle bridle. Some years ago now I got a ride on a MFT mare in English saddle and snaffle bridle with a trainer just for the sake of giving it a go.
If you're talking about "dressage" (with the small "d") you're just talking about "training." Most of the classical dressage moves can be performed by an otherwise sound and fit gaited horse.
If you're talking about "Dressage" (with a big "D") you're talking about walk/trot/canter. A gaited horse can do this if they can successfully learn to trot (and most can).
The big "if" is the goal of the rider. If the rider wants to be competitive (in any discipline) they should study the discipline of choice and then select a type of horse that is optimized to that discipline. For example, if you want to be competitive in Dressage then you should be looking at a Warmblood like a Trakhener or Holsteiner; or possibly a TB, Selle Francais, or cross. But a foxtrotter? That would be a non-starter.
The fact that a horse can perform a maneuver does not mean it can do it well. It think I've mentioned before the lady I knew who trained Paso Fino to perform quite credibly as a "dressage" horse. Most "Dressage" riders will see her as a "novelty act." This may not say many good things about "Dressage" riders, but there it is.
There's an old rule that says, "Horses for courses." This means that you select a horse to perform in a discipline. This does not preclude "cross training." If the disciplines are closely related they may even have some success in both. The farther apart the disciplines are the less likely you'll see multiple successes.
I do training level dressage with my Fox Trotter and he doesn't do any gaiting at all during the exercises. Most fox trotters can walk, trot, canter, and foxtrot. My somewhat limited experience has been that many fox trotters will only do their foxtrot in a special bit or with special cueing. Some people have a hard time keeping their FT's in the foxtrot and that's a complaint I hear often enough. You just need to know your particular horse. Does he have more of a natural foxtrot where that's kind of what he falls into naturally when he's free and moving around in the field? When you ask him to speed up out of a walk and he's wearing a snaffle, does he go right into the foxtrot without any special cueing? You *might* have to work at getting him to just trot, but there is certainly a decent chance that it won't be an issue at all.
I do have a friend whose daughter rides a Tennessee Walker and although he will barrel race just fine, she's embarrassed as all get out that her daughter (who really doesn't care!) will be laughed out of the ring because "Tennessee Walkers don't barrel race." Pish posh, I say! :wink: I guess I'm more about really loving what you do with your horse than caring if it's not traditionally done or not. Have fun!
Thanks everyone for your insights! :) Reality is that I don't have the time or money to even attempt to rise up through the ranks lol. But I really love "Dressage" and I could definitely see myself wanting to learn "dressage" at some point. I just wanted to make sure I could at least enter a couple of low levels shows for fun.
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