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The first documented

breed in America

the Morgan Horse

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The Morgan Horse is thought to be the first documented horse breed in
the United States. Tracing back to Figure, the breed excels in
many disciplines. It is known for its versatility.

The Morgan Horse

Morgan Horse Breed Characteristics

The Morgan is compact and refined in build, with strong limbs, an
expressive face, large eyes, well-defined withers, laid back
shoulder and a well arched neck. There is one Breed Standard for
Morgan type regardless of the discipline or bloodline of the
individual horse.

Morgans come in a variety of colors although they are most
commonly bay, black, brown, and chestnut. Gray, palomino,
cremello, perlino, smoky cream, silver dapple, sabino, frame
overo, dun, and buckskin are also seen. There are two known frame
overos, two known dark headed roans, and one possible splash
white, as well. The breed standard ranges from 14-15.2 hh. This
size qualifies some Morgans as ponies for the purposes of
competition rules. Many children enjoy the smaller Morgans and
can compte in pony divisions.

Morgan Horse Breed History

Morgans trace back to one foundation sire named Figure. The
stallion was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts in 1789. The
small, dark colt was of unknown parentage, some believing he was
sired by the English Thoroughbred "True Briton", others believing
he had a Canadian Horse, Welsh Cob, Friesian, or Norfolk Trotter
in his blood. As a yearling, Figure was given as a payment for a
debt to Justin Morgan, a schoolteacher, singing master and
one-time Randolph Town Clerk, who owned him from 1792-1795. He
was lent out to farms for ploughing and logging. When he matured,
Figure was found to be very talented, outrunning the fastest
Thoroughbreds in match races, pulling heavier loads than huge
draft horses, and trotting faster than most harness racers.

His reputation spread throughout New England, and mares were
brought to him to breed. The stallion had a unique ability to
stamp his get, passing on his great abilities to his offspring.
He was bought, sold and traded by many Vermont farmers and was
the parade mount for President James Monroe in Montpelier, VT on
July 22, 1817. He died in 1821 at the farm of Levi Bean. His
grave is in Tunbridge, Vermont.

Famous Morgan Horses in History

The breed's trotting ability made it a favorite for harness
racing in the 1840s. Morgans were then used in the Civil War as
cavalry mounts, including Sheridan's "Rienz" and Stonewall
Jackson's "Little Sorrel". The only survivor (from the US Army)
of The Battle of Little Bighorn was the Morgan "Comanche". The
breed was later used in the Pony Express. The first volume of the
Morgan Horse Register was published in 1894. Since then, more
than 132,000 Morgan Horses have been registered. The stud book
was closed in 1948 in an effort to preserve the breed.

The Morgan has influenced several other breeds, including the
Standardbred, Tennessee Walker, American Quarter Horse, and the
American Saddlebred. Nearly 90% of Saddlebred horses today have
Morgan blood.

See also: Morgan Horse History

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