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Origin of the Morgan Horse


The Morgan breed originated in West Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1789, with a bay colt named Figure.  As a yearling, Figure was given to a Randolph, Vermont, schoolmaster named Justin Morgan for partial payment of a debt. Figure was a stylish bay horse of many talents.  As Figure grew, his compact muscular body and stylish way of moving impressed many of the pioneer farmers and settlers.  He became widely known for his ability to pull stumps and logs while clearing the land of new settlers.  In addition, he won races and pulling contests, was a favored parade mount at militia training, and was used as a saddle and driving horse. Soon tales of his beauty, strength, speed, hardiness, endurance and gentle disposition spread amidst the small New England towns.  Because of his abilities Figure's stud services were offered throughout the Connecticut River Valley and various Vermont locations over his lifetime.  His most valuable asset, however, was his ability to pass on his distinguishing characteristics, not only to his offspring but also through several generations. This is little bay horse named Figure became the founding sire of the Morgan breed.  

After Justin Morgan's death, Figure moved on to other owners and spent a life work doing various activities.  In the practice of the day, he became known by his former owner's name, the Justin Morgan horse.  He spent his life working and died in 1821 from an untreated kick received from another horse.  His three most famous sons- Sherman, Bulrush and Woodbury - would carry on his legacy to future generations of Morgan horses.

Pictured below is an artist’s rendition of the ideal Morgan mare (left) and the ideal Morgan stallion (right).

Breed Characteristics

Today, Morgans can be found in all 50 states and in more than 20 foreign countries.  The Morgan averages between 14.1 and 16 hands.  It is frequently found in the colors bay, black, brown, chestnut, gray, palomino, crème, dun and buckskin.  The Morgan has remained a stylish mount with conformation that lends itself well to a vast range of disciplines.  Morgan versatility is widely recognized.  The breed's soundness, power, agility and stamina make it the choice of many driving enthusiasts.  Morgans comprise a large number of entries at Combined Driving and Carriage events, and were the first American breed to represent the United States in World Pairs Driving competition.  Morgans also excel in many other disciplines, including Park Saddle and Harness, English and Classic Pleasure Saddle and Driving, Western, Hunter, Jumper, Eventing, Dressage, Reining, Cutting, Endurance and Competitive Trail.  They are gentle enough for lessons, 4-H and Pony Club involvement, and due to their steady, comfortable gaits, are in great demand as therapeutic riding horses.  Morgans are equally well known for their loving, kind dispositions.  Those who buy a Morgan often say they have not only purchased a horse, but have welcomed a new family member.


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