Fox Trotters Entertain Arts Council

    During the 2nd Annual Breeders Cup Horse Show in August, local and out-of-state horsemen joined forces to introduce Missouri Fox Trotting Horses to Lebanon's Arts Council members and their guests prior to the organization's luncheon held at ring side in the Cowan Civic Center.  Costumed riders performed for the audience as Janet Esther narrated their roles in the settlement of Laclede County and the development of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed.

    Eldon Prock of Competition, Mo., a competitor in black powder rendezvous across the nation, lead the group dressed in authentic pre-1800 Southwest trader garb astride a straight-gaited horse fitted with Spanish influenced tack that was the forerunner of modern Western saddles.  Rex Walker, Lebanon, Mo., headed a group of riders representing early settlers: some of their horses foxtrotted and some didn't.  Settlers who decided that horses that foxtrotted were the most useful gradually began to breed for that particular gait.

    Harold Brown of Stoutland, Mo., a rural mail carrier for more than three decades, carried antique mail sacks donated by the U.S. Postal Service on his grade gelding, Ringo, as they reenacted the monthly 50 mile ride to the western-most post office at Little Piney (in present day Phelps County).  Early Laclede County settlers took turns going to get the mail each month: two days were allotted for the 100 mile round trip.  Ringo and Harold have served a flag bearers on the reenactment ride of the Trail of Tears then started on the Georgia-Tennessee border and ended at Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  They have also traveled the Oregon Trail all the way from Independence, Mo. to Ft. Vancouver, Washington.

    Shorty Chaney of Heavener, Oklahoma and Ashley Wright of Mansfield, Texas loaned their prize-winning gelding, Red Lightening's Iron Duke, to Laclede County assessor Johnny North who made a good ride on the veteran show horse. Probably the most widely recognized horse that ever lived in the West Plains, Mo. area was a Fox Trotting gelding named Whit that carried Howell County Assessor Henry Brisco to every dwelling in the county a total of seven times early in the century.

    Current Laclede County sheriff, Robert Dotson, loaned his badge to Homer Jones, President of the local mounted posse, for his horse back portrayal of old-time sheriff Sam Allen, locally famous for his successful pursuit of bootleggers.

    Dale Esther, riding a descendant of Christian County's famous Fox Trotting cow horse, Old Fox, fitted with the plantation-style saddle that was very popular at the turn of the century, represented the cattlemen of the Ozarks who were largely responsible for developing and preserving the Missouri fox Trotting Horse Breed.

    Monica Nichols of Lebanon, Mo., riding Outlaw Queen sidesaddle, delighted the audience with a display of the skills that have made them two times World Champion.  Mitzi Nichols, elegantly turned out in English attire and tack, smoothly demonstrated the three gaits of the Fox Trotter on her stallion, Legend's Prime Time.

    Larry Hamilton of Rogersville, Mo. demonstrated what judges look for in tack, attire, and riding style in Western Pleasure aboard the versatile stallion, Duke's Cast Iron Willy.

    Newly crowned Breeders Cup 3 year old Amateur Champion, Sensations Missouri Girl, owned and ridden by Ron Bowers of Summersville, Mo. gave an outstanding performance as an example of the modern show horse.

    The program concluded with a jumping exhibition by Tornado W., a 5 year old stallion ridden by Rogenia Esther.  Afterward, all the participants parked their mounts directly in front of the audience and answered questions about the breed until lunch was served.

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National Breeders Cup Parade of Champions