Tracing back to the foundation sire Figure, later named Justin Morgan after his best-known owner, Morgans served many roles in 19th-century American history, being used as coach horses and for harness racing, as general riding animals, and as cavalry horses during the American Civil War on both sides of the conflict. Morgans have influenced other major American breeds, including the American Quarter Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse and the Standard bred.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, they were exported to other countries, including England, where a Morgan stallion influenced the breeding of the Hackney horse. In 1907, the US Department of Agriculture established the US Morgan Horse Farm near Middlebury, Vermont for the purpose of perpetuating and improving the Morgan breed; the farm was later transferred to the University of Vermont. The first breed registry was established in 1909, and since then many organizations in the US, Europe and Oceania have developed.
The Morgan is a compact, refined breed, generally bay, black or chestnut, although they come in many colors, including several variations of pinto. Used in both English and Western disciplines, the breed is known for its versatility.
Popular children's authors, including Marguerite Henry and Ellen Held, have portrayed the breed in their books; Henry's Justin Morgan Had a Horse was later made into a Disney movie. A Morgan in horse show competitionThere is officially one breed standard for the Morgan type, regardless of the discipline or bloodline of the individual horse.
Compact and refined in build, the Morgan has strong legs, an expressive head with a straight or slightly convex profile and broad forehead; large, prominent eyes; well-defined withers, laid back shoulders, and an upright, well arched neck. The back is short, and hindquarters are strongly muscled, with a long and well-muscled croup.
The tail is attached high and carried gracefully and straight. Morgans appear to be a strong powerful horse, and the breed is well known as an easy keeper.
The breed standard for height ranges from 14.1 to 15.2 hands (57 to 62 inches, 145 to 157 cm), with some individuals over and under. Gaits, particularly the trot are “animated, elastic, square, and collected,” with the front and rear legs balanced.
The breed has a reputation for intelligence, courage and a good disposition. Registered Morgans come in a variety of colors although they are most commonly bay, black, and chestnut.
Less common colors include gray, roan, dun, silver dapple, and cream dilutions such as palomino, buckskin, cello and per lino. In addition, three pinto color patterns are also recognized: Sabine, frame over, and splashed white.
One genetic disease has been identified within the Morgan breed. This is Type 1 polysaccharide storage myopathy, an autosomal dominant muscle disease found mainly in stock horse and draft horse breeds caused by a misses mutation in the GYS1 gene.
Morgans are one of over a dozen breeds found to have the allele for the condition, though its prevalence in Morgans appears to be quite low compared to stock and draft breeds. In one study, less than one percent of randomly tested Morgans carried the allele for this condition, one of the lowest percentages amongst breeds in that study.
Two coat color genes found in Morgans have also been linked to genetic disorders. One is the genetic ocular syndrome multiple congenital ocular anomalies (MCO), originally called equine anterior segment diagenesis (ASD).
MCO is characterized by the abnormal development of some ocular tissues, which causes compromised vision, although generally of a mild form; the disease is non-progressive. Genetic studies have shown that it is closely tied to the silver dapple gene.
A few Morgans carry the silver dapple allele, which causes cysts but no apparent vision problems if heterozygous, but when homozygous can cause vision problems. There is also the possibility of lethal white syndrome, a fatal disease seen in foals who are homozygous for the frame over gene.
At present, there is one mare line in the Morgan breed that has produced healthy heterozygous frame over individuals. The American Morgan Horse Association advocates genetic testing to identify carriers of these genetics, and advises owners to avoid breeding horses that are heterozygous for frame over to each other.
Costuming intended to resemble Justin Morgan and Figure. All Morgans trace back to a single foundation sire, a stallion named Figure, who was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts in 1789.
In 1792, he was given to a man named Justin Morgan as a debt payment. Figure is thought to have stood about 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm), and to have weighed about 1,000 pounds (450 kg).
He was known for his presidency, passing on his distinctive looks, conformation, temperament, and athleticism. His exact pedigree is unknown, although extensive efforts have been made to discover his parentage.
One historian notes that the writings on the possibility of his sire being a Thoroughbred named Beautiful Bay would “fill 41 detective novels and a membership application for the Liars' Club.” In 1821, Figure was kicked by another horse and later died of his injuries.
Although Figure was used extensively as a breeding stallion, records are known to exist for only six of his sons, three of whom became notable as foundation bloodstock for the Morgan breed. Wood bury, a chestnut, stood 14.3 hands (59 inches, 150 cm) high and stood for many years at stud in New England.
Bulrush, a dark bay the same size as Figure, was known for his endurance and speed in harness. Best known was Sherman, another chestnut stallion, slightly shorter than Figure, who in turn was the sire and grand sire of Black Hawk and Ethan Allen.
Black Hawk, born in 1833, went on to become a foundation stallion for the Standard bred, American Saddle bred and Tennessee Walking Horse breeds, and was known for his unbeaten harness racing record. Ethan Allen, sired by Black Hawk in 1849, is another important sire in the history of the Morgan breed, and was known for his speed in trotting races.
In the 19th century, Morgans were recognized for their utilitarian capabilities. They were also used as stock horses and for general riding, as well as light driving work.
Miners in the California Gold Rush (1848–1855) used the breed, as did the Army during and after the American Civil War for both riding and harness horses. The Morgan trotting stallion Shepherd F. Knapp was exported to England in the 1860s, where his trotting ability influenced the breeding of Hackney horses.
During this period, numerous Morgan mares may have been brought west and integrated into Texan horse herds, which influenced the development of the American Quarter Horse breed. The Morgan horse also was an ancestor of the Missouri Fox Trotter.
By the 1870s, however, longer-legged horses came into fashion, and Morgan horses were crossed with those of other breeds. This resulted in the virtual disappearance of the original style Morgan, although a few remained in isolated areas.
Daniel Chapman Lindsay, a native of Middlebury, Vermont, compiled a book of Morgan breeding stallions, published in 1857. Colonel Joseph Bat tell, also a Middlebury, Vermont native, published the first volume of the Morgan Horse Register in 1894, marking the beginning of a formal breed registry.
In 1907, the US Department of Agriculture established the US Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge, Vermont on land donated by Bat tell for the purpose of perpetuating and improving the Morgan breed. The breeding program aimed to produce horses that were sound, sturdy, well-mannered, and capable of performing well either under saddle or in harness.
Morgans were used as cavalry mounts by both sides in the American Civil War. Horses with Morgan roots included Sheridan's Winchester, also known as Rain, (a descendant of Black Hawk).
Stonewall Jackson's “Little Sorrel” has alternately been described as a Morgan or an American Saddle bred, a breed heavily influenced by the Morgan. While Morgan enthusiasts have stated that the horse Comanche, the only survivor of the Custer regiment after the Battle of the Little Big Horn, was either a Morgan or a Mustang / Morgan mix, records of the U.S. Army and other early sources do not support this.
Most accounts state that Comanche was either of “Mustang lineage” or a mix of “American” and “Spanish” blood. The University of Kansas Natural History Museum, which has the stuffed body of Comanche on display, makes no statement as to his breed.
The Drunk Family, particularly noted for soundness and athleticism, traces to the Illinois breeding program of Joseph Drunk. Robert Lippi Knight focused on preservation breeding of horses descended from Ethan Allen II and this line is considered the “purest” of the four lines, with the most lines tracing back to Figure and no outcrosses to other breeds in the 20th or 21st centuries.
The foundation sire of this line was General Gates. When USDA involvement ended, the University of Vermont purchased not only the farm, but much of its breeding stock and carries on the program today.
The Working Western Family, abbreviated 2WF, have no common breeder or ancestor, but the horses are bred to be stock horses and work cattle, some descended from Government farm stallions shipped west. During the 1930s and 1940s, there was controversy within the registry membership whether the stud book should be open or closed ; this mirrored similar controversies in other US breed registries.
The result of these discussions was that the stud book was declared closed to outside blood as of January 1, 1948. In 1985, the US and Canadian registries signed a reciprocity agreement regarding the registration of horses, and a similar agreement was made between the US and Great Britain registries in 1990.
It is estimated that between 175,000 and 180,000 Morgans exist worldwide, and although they are most popular in the United States, there are populations in Great Britain, Sweden and other countries. In addition to the AMHA, since 1996, there has also been a National Morgan Pony Registry, which specializes in horses under 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm).
There are several other organizations that focus on specific bloodlines within the Morgan breed. These include the Rainbow Morgan Horse Association, begun in 1990, which works with the AMHA to develop and promote unusually-colored Morgans, such as those with the silver dapple and cream genes.
The Foundation Morgan Horse Association registers those horses bred to resemble the stockier type seen in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before crossbreeding with the American Saddle bred became common. Two other membership based organizations, both devoted to preserving the old-time Vermont or “Lippi” strain of Morgans, also exist.
The Lippi Morgan Horse Registry, Inc., was formed in 2011. It registers and maintains a DNA database with pedigrees of Lippi Morgans.
There are also associations for Morgans in several countries besides the US, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Sweden, Austria and Germany. In Middlebury, Vermont there is a museum dedicated to the history of the breed.
A movie based on the book was made by Walt Disney Studios in 1972. Both the book and the movie have been criticized for containing a number of historical inaccuracies and for creating or perpetuating some myths about both Justin Morgan and Figure.
One equine historian stated, “these should be looked upon not as true happenings but as entertainment vehicles.” A Morgan horse is the subject of the poem, The Runaway by Robert Frost.
In the poem, the speaker observes “A little Morgan colt who has been left out in a mountain pasture during winter and seems to be afraid of the falling snow. ^ “The Morgan Horse Judging Standards” (PDF).
^ Anderson; Lisa S.; Judas, Rates; Ramsey, David T.; Eason-Butler, Jessica; Wart, Susan; Cochran, Gus; Lindgren, Gabriella (2008). “Equine Multiple Congenital Ocular Anomalies maps to a 4.9 meg abase interval on horse chromosome 6”.
“History of the American Morgan Horse Register: 1894–1994”. The Lippi Morgan Horse Registry, Inc. Retrieved 2015-02-04.
The reason “Figure” was available for Justin Morgan to purchase was the horse was on the small size, and he had no other persons interested in him. “Figure’s” breeding is confirmed but is thought to include Arabian, Thoroughbred, and Dutch bloodlines.
As he grew, his superior conformation was evident; his legs were straight and clean, and his body was deeply muscled. He had a thick silky mane and tail, intelligent head and short, pricked ears.
However, “Figure” proved himself against all comers, he out-pulled draft horses and outran the winning est racehorses. Throughout his life, “Figure” was bought and sold by numerous people, and was always called Justin Morgan ’s horse.
Morgan ’s stout and compact bodies enabled them to perform a wide variety of tasks around the farm. Their endurance, gait, and attitude to get the job done, made them a favorite horse of all work.
Morgan horses were the desired big city breed for public transportation, private driving, and hauling freight. They were the best horse to navigate the twist and turns of city streets or stand quietly in crowds.
Horses were bred and raised in New England then shipped to big city markets. However, due to the enduring qualities only found in Morgans, they were bred to taller horse breeds.
Modern Morgans compete and excel in driving sports and have represented the U.S. in international competitions. During the Civil War hardy dependable horse were needed, and Morgan horses fits the bill.
These horses are easy keepers that can endure rough conditions while maintaining their strength. General Sheridan famed horse was a Morgan as was the mount for Stonewall Jackson.
For example, the speed of The Standardized and Quarter horses were developed from a cross with speedy Morgans. Morgan horses are still used today in competitive trail and endurance riding, which requires a horse and rider to cover up to 100-miles a day.
Because of their willingness and even temperament, they make great horses for beginners and experienced riders alike. The Morgan horse breed has distinctive characteristics, such as a graceful crested neck, expressive eyes, and small ears.
The average Morgan weighs between 900 and 1,100 pounds, which is massive for a horse, only 14 hands tall. Registered Morgan horses can be a variety of colors but are most frequently bay, black, brown, chestnut, gray, palomino, crème, dun, and buckskin.
In the present context, it’s used to describe not straightness of a component, but rather how the parts tie together for optimum balance and performance. Head A Morgan horse should have a broad forehead, with large eyes and a straight or slightly dished short face.
Body Ideally, a Morgan horse is compact with a short back, thick loins, deep flank, and is well-muscled with its tail attached high. A strong, straight back with the croup level rounding into a well-muscled thigh is desired.
The Morgans’ chest should be well-developed, and the front legs should be perpendicular to the ground and closely attached to the body. The pasterns should be of sufficient length and angle to provide a light, springy step.
They maintain their health and strength on very little food and often live a long life eating grass and hay. Even when worked, they don’t require supplemental food to maintain a healthy weight.
Animals that are easy keepers have a propensity to put on weight quickly when overfed. Through the years, Morgans have retained the spirit, looks, and athletic ability that lends itself to a vast range of equine disciplines.
Dressage horses must have power, elegance, and athletic ability, traits found in Morgans. Their patience, intelligence, and athletic ability allow them to perform at the highest level of dressage.
Morgan horses have competed and won in open national competitions, including Used Horses of the Year, and United States Dressage Federation All Breeds Award. During the competition, the horse must stay under control will no apparent resistance; any movement on his own is unacceptable.
In the United States, there are two major categories of English riding: Hunt seat, which is used both on the flat and over fences. Western Pleasure is a competition that evaluates horses disposition and suitability for a relaxed but collected gait cadence at a relatively slow speed.
Its rich heritage is rooted in New England and today's Morgan is hardy, surefooted, and versatile. They're also popular trail mounts and pleasure horses, and you'll also find them driven or working on ranches or farms.
Purchased by the University of Vermont when government involvement ended, this farm is still in operation today. According to the Association, the ideal Morgan should have expressive eyes with a slightly dished face, a slightly deeper throat latch, compact body with a short back, well-developed chest, and straight legs with short cannon bones.
You'll find Morgans in nearly every coat color imaginable, including bay, black, palomino, buckskin, and more. They were used by miners in the California Gold Rush, and as cavalry mounts by the army during and after the Civil War.
• Horses : 0 I am in need of some advice for my 15-year-old Morgan /Frisian Mare! I give her light leg cues, then increase the pressure.
I stop her, I take a few deep breaths, do lateral elevations for a few minutes, and then try again. I ride in a Hecate headstall as you can tell by the profile picture, and with it is a lead rope with a leather popper on the end.
This weekend I asked her to go into a trot using only vocal commands, and she listened. I lightly used the popper after trying verbal and leg cues, and she crows hopped.
Being that she is a draft mix, it felt abrupt and more than a crow hop. She throws her head down and basically gives me the middle finger.
I watch Clinton Anderson videos, my boss is Scott DePaul. My fellow wranglers tell me that if she crows hops, that I should keep driving her forward and keep her head up when she tries to lower it, but so far the most I have been able to do is keep her head up when she lowers it, but she still manages to throw her feet up in some way.
There are multiple vets who are wranglers on the ranch, and they each have said that she is perfectly sound and has excellent confirmation, she also just had new shoes put on, no signs of thrush or arthritis either. • Horses : 0 Her back and teeth are perfectly sound, they each spent about an hour looking over everything that might be the cause of her saying no.
I have semi-quarter horse bars on my 1970 Circle Y cutting saddle, and I double up on my saddle pad to prevent any sort of rubbing, and after I re-tighten the front and rear cinch I asked the vets to check to see if the fit was right, and they said it was perfect for her. I asked my trainer to get on her, and after about a half hour or so of crow hopping and tumbling around, he was able to get her to lope, but he was having the same issues I was, only he used the popper sooner and was less asking, more commanding.
Not in an abusive way, but more of a I am not here to play, I am here to get stuff done and you are being lazy and stubborn because you are refusing to do as asked. I think it is a respect issue, she respects me on the ground, but as soon as I get in the saddle and ask for more than a trot, she immediately gets attitude and throws teenage sass like I sometimes do to my parents.
Dig your spur in, pop her with the leather popper or even an English bat could help. • Horses : 0 Ok, no more Mr. nice guy, keep it humane, keep it reasonable, but demand it.
Also, when I back her up, she throws her head up and tries to resist the bit and leans forward to get away from it. I am using a plain loose ring snaffle and applying little pressure and moving the reins back and forth instead of pulling back with both reins at the same time.
I have heard that a training fork is a great aid in this process, and I learned English with a German martingale before I transferred to western in the past 4 years, so I know how to use one, I am wondering if it would help her learn better by limiting how high she can raise her head? I'm not saying to go out and buy a new saddle, but just see if you can borrow something wider to see if she moves better for a ride or two.
I know from experience that I can make my horse Trippe if the saddle doesn't fit her right. • Horses : 2 I wouldn't put something on her to make her lower her head at this point, because I'd be worried she'd throw her head and go over backwards (had it happen to me when I tried that move as a teenager, so I'm speaking from experience).
At first this looked like nothing and was a feeling in my reins, but little by little it turned into flexion and now total softness in his poll. • Horses : 0 I tried a slightly wider saddle to see if it was tight, and I had the same results, I even tried a neoprene cinch that was specially cut out to avoid the armpits to see if it was rubbing her too much, same results.
It is not necessarily throwing her head, more like raising it as the pressure increases to resist it, it is gradual, not all at once. I am only considering a training fork because I have never had her violently throw her head up, she has only spooked once but in that instance all she did was run.
For me, the training fork is different from a traditional martingale because it allows the rider to control how high they can raise their head by using the reins. In an emergency, I can give her slack, and she has full access to her head.
Another thing I should mention is that she will trot fast to avoid the lope and will direct herself towards other horses in the arena (two or three at most in a corner practicing roping) to avoid going straight because she knows it will let her slow down and I have to re-gather the loose rein to re-direct her. I think I should go back to the basics, trot in a straight line, around cones, break the bad habits before trying to ask for more.
I have always been fascinated by Morgans, because while they are well-loved and popular, they have often been blocked from the limelight by breeds such as the American Quarter Horse, and thus, have an air of mystery that still surrounds them. Regardless of if you have a connection to Morgans are not, you’ll enjoy this blog of fun and informative facts about this fascinating breed of horse.
2) Morgan horses can be gained: While uncommon, there are some Morgans that are gained; this trait is found within all families of the Morgan breed and is not connected to a specific bloodline. The owners of Morgan horses use them for a variety of purposes, including dressage, show jumping, endurance riding, driving, and racing.
5) The Morgan horse has been a favorite in battles, such as the Civil War: Morgans, as stated above, are highly versatile, versatile enough to be a favorite in the Civil War due to their superior strength and smarts. Customer Care can be reached by emailing, online chat or leave a voicemail by calling (859) 258-2472.
In order to continue watching this lesson and access more great US Equestrian benefits, please join Used today! Well known for their arched neck, expressive eyes, slightly dished face, and a high tail, Morgan horses can excel at many disciplines.
You can find Morgan horses at just about any horse show in the United States competing in everything from saddle seat, to dressage, and even jumping and driving. Tim Roe sink is a Morgan horse trainer and owner of Grove Point Stables in Heron, Ohio.
A seasoned competitor, Roe sink has trained and shown more than 50 World Champion Morgans show horses in the halter, saddle, and harness divisions. For over 25 years, Roe sink has proven himself a devoted advocate for the breed, joining forces with people across the industry to help better promote the Morgan horse.
This Learning Center is provided solely as an informational and educational service to US Equestrian members. This Learning Center is not intended to nor does it constitute legal, medical, or veterinarian advice or opinions and should not be relied upon as such.
By using this Learning Center, you agree to this disclaimer and recognize that it may be necessary to seek the advice of an attorney, medical physician, or equine veterinarian licensed to practice in the appropriate area. He acquired a colt in 1789 because of a debt payment that would become the founding sire of the breed, and would be later renamed after Morgan from the name of Figure that was originally given to him.
This founding sire would have three sons, named Bulrush, Sherman, and Wood bury, and together they would create the legacy of the Morgan horse. Morgan horses have some very specific conformation characteristics that must be met in order for the horse to be accepted for registry.
This includes a broad forehead, prominent eyes that are large, a deep throat latch, and sound legs that are straight with short cannons. The Morgan horse is often considered to be the first breed that was exclusively developed in the United States.
This has led the breed to be a popular horse for a wide variety of tasks, from fighting in the Civil War to performing general farm work in the agricultural sector. These traits can still be found in the modern Morgan horse today, though their jobs have transitioned more into sporting and recreational sectors.
They enjoy putting on a good show, so their curiosity and skill-development is an asset for those that perform in formal riding disciplines. They’re instantly alert when called upon to enter a show ring, no matter how long they’ve been waiting.
Many records from those breeding efforts have been lost or were never created in the first place, so there may be more Morgans out there than anyone actually realizes. The Morgan horse is also the first American breed to compete in the World Pairs Driving Competition.
This is why they were used quite extensively in the 1800s as a carriage horse, for harness racing, and similar pulling tasks. Unlike some other breeds, there are no coat color determinations that are believed to be present when considering the Morgan horse.
There are, however, two different genetic disorders that are linked to coat color genes within this breed. Morgans are also capable of developing lethal white syndrome, which is seen in foals who are homozygous for the frame over gene.
Only one Morgan mare line in the breed has every produced healthy foals with a heterozygous frame over. There are four main bloodlines that exist for Morgan horses today, with each being referred to as a family.
Each family offers a similar temperament, but there are subtle differences based on the purpose of breeding that was in place. The US Government gave up their involvement with Morgan horses in 1951, selling their program to the University of Vermont.
Much of that is due to the fact that the Morgan horse temperament is the same today as it was over 200 years ago. For more than 200 years the breeders of Morgan horses have sought to bring forward in their offspring the best qualities the breed has to offer.
Breeders of Foundation Morgans have had one purpose in mind when choosing their breeding pairs, and that was to preserve the qualities that made Morgans so desirable since the horse Figure first left his mark on America. It is these qualities that give substance, soundness, and mind to today's Morgans.
It is more important than ever to direct our efforts at saving the Foundation Morgan. Traditional Morgans, as they are called by the Livestock Conservancy are on the critically endangered list.
It is the concern of many that we will see the extinction of the Traditional Morgan if concerted efforts are not enacted soon. Each time we diminish the uniqueness of these rare animals is a step toward extinction.
Careful breeding and genetic preservation is now required to maintain the gene pool that is available. It is up to those of us who choose to breed Foundation Morgans to inform ourselves of all resources available.
It is our hope that this website may serve as a place of education, resources and connection. You will find them curious, bold, often fearless, yet there is a gentleness there for their humans from whom they love attention.
They have excellent retention, with the ability to come back months later and pick up like it was yesterday. They never lose their ability to learn as witnessed by the many reports of training older horses to ride or drive.
Morgan horses have the intellect to excel at complex and challenging activities which allows for their amazing versatility. Foundation Morgans have the focus of mind to be excellent ranch horses, the boldness for CDE, and the sensitivity for dressage.
A Foundation Morgan's heart is the basis for their unending drive. Foundation Morgans form strong attachments to their people.
Foundation Morgans have been known to make choices to protect their riders at risk of injury to themselves. As the Morgan horse moved west it was bred for long days of ranch work.
Over time Morgans have been bred for more specific uses such as ranch work, or trail riding. More recently Foundation Morgans have excelled in dressage and evening.
This site is solely for the purpose of preserving the 100% Foundation Morgan Horse. It is a group effort by several passionate breeders and lovers of Foundation Morgans.