Missouri is noted for his mules and its gated Fox Trotters, which are wonderful horses for pleasure riding. In fact, they have used the Fox Trotter to breed gaited mules. Most horses in this part of the state are used for pleasure riding. The farmers here who run beef cattle usually don’t have big enough farms to need a horse to collect the cattle -- one farmer I know uses a border collie, and if they mostly use their land to make hay, they use a machine rather than horse-drawn equipment.
There are rodeos where they do barrel racing and that sort of thing, and horse shows, but the horses don’t have much actual work to do on a daily basis except stand around and look pretty. And I am not being disparaging here – I love horses. We looked into getting a horse for ourselves years ago when our son was young and wanted a horse. We concluded that we could not afford to keep a horse the right way, and, as my husband said, “I think he would be interested in it for a while, and then it would end up becoming an expensive lawn ornament.”
The main to this are the Amish, who farm in a very flat area between here and Springfield, about 1 hour down the highway. The Amish in their horse-drawn wagons are a common sight on the highway, as are the huge draft horses pulling the farming equipment in their fields.
On our recent trip to Springfield, we stopped on the way back at the McDonald’s near where they farm because we had been “sent buy one, get one free” coupons and decided to take advantage of the offer. I am only a little embarrassed to admit that I love McDonald's hamburgers and french fries.
Four Amish women had also stopped at McDonald’s and were leaving just as we got there. One of them approached me and asked if I wanted to buy some homemade egg noodles. I declined the offer, but later regretted that I had not done so.
Their horse is not just another expensive yard ornament. It is not a “pretty” horse compared with the horses we see when we take our walk, but it is obviously well cared for and well fed. And it actually has an important job to do. One might wonder what the maintenance and upkeep on a horse would be compared with a car?