History of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association Print E-mail

It was the wish of a number of horsemen to preserve the breeding we had, before it was irretrievably lost, that led to the securing of a charter and starting a stud book in 1948. The concerned charter members were G.E. Dye, C.S. Neiman, Ralph Kerr, Homer Harley, E.L. Hesterlee, Paul Comer, Ranse Gaston, Clyde Norman, Ernest Uhlmann, C.H. Hibbard, John Dunn, Granville Prock, Ovle House, and Paul David. Bernie Lewis served as attorney for the group.

Much progress was made, but in 1955 the Secretary's home burned and with it our stud book and every record we had. Considerable confusion and discouragement prevailed as we more or less drifted, merely keeping our charter alive. In 1958, we reorganized with a larger capital and group; more stock was sold. From that time on a steady progress was made, with the breed spreading to other states, including Texas and Arizona. Each year more foundation stock animals were registered and each year showed an increasing crop of colts being registered.

As of January 1, 2005 more than 83,000 horses had their names on the pages of the Official Record. Owners of the Fox Trotting Horses span the continent as each year more and more inquires come from trail riding clubs, pleasure riding groups, showmen, 4-H groups, etc. Many horse shows throughout the country include fox trotting classes among their many others designed for spectator's and riders' participation.

In 1959 the first Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Jubilee Celebration was held in Ava, Missouri - National Headquarters for the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association Incorporated, with 14 classes held. Since that year, an annual Celebration is held each September in Ava. The Association has continued through the years to attempt to interest people, from all over the United States, in both the Fox Trotting horses and in attending the Annual Show.

Progress was steady and continual from 1968 through 1973 at which time the Association decided to convert from a stock company to a membership corporation. With this changeover came a greater interest and participation in our breed and the association itself. Registration picked up substantially after 1968, 4,305 horses had been registered at that time. At the close of 1978, a ten year span, registrations were right at the 15,000 mark - over 10,500 of these 15,000 being registered in this period. Memberships for 1978 totaled over the 1,950 mark. Membership for 1996 totaled over 6,000 and 2005 totaled over 8,000.

In 1976, the Association purchased land just outside of Ava, Missouri, to establish a showgrounds to use in putting on their annual Show and Celebration. Prior to this time, the Ava fairgounds had housed the Jubilee each September, but its facilities had become somewhat inadequate to hold the large crowds in attendance. Also in 1976, two fifty-stall barns were constructed on the newly acquired land and several camper hookups and lighting facilities were established.

The following year, an additional three barns were constructed, and these came in quite handy when the Celebration rolled around in September. In the spring of 1978, the First Annual Spring Show was held by the Association. Though not too big, because of other conflicting horse activities in the area, this show was proof that the breed and the Association had grown such as to warrant more activity for the members and the interest it held. Also, in 1978 came the sixth barn and only a year later a seventh barn was needed and constructed.

1980 saw the Association through another grand year - all indebtedness was cancelled out and the Spring Show and Jubilee programs were expanded with additional classes. The following year, in 1981, the MFTHBA and its devoted members and supporters witnessed "a dream come true" - construction of an office building and adjoining Hall of Fame area right on the showgrounds. This "dream" is one that had been contemplated by many for a good number of years and indeed a profound accomplishment for the Association.

Currently, here on the 130 acre showgrounds, there are 17 barns with 50 stalls in each barn. The main Show Arena, a Versatility Arena, and two warm up arenas. We have 334 full service RV sites and a restaurant. Over 97,000 horses registered and over 8,000 members.

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