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Morgans: America’s first breed

From releases and staff reports - September 1st, 2017 - Cover Story

1709A CoverIn 1789, George Washington became the first president of the United States and the U.S. Constitution was signed into law. That same year in Springfield, Mass., a small bay colt named Figure was born. This colt was instrumental in building the new country and founded America’s original equine breed, the Morgan.

The Morgan, the first recognized horse breed in the U.S., is the official state animal of both Vermont and Massachusetts. Other breeds have claimed existence in colonial times, but only the Morgan can trace its bloodlines to a common ancestor. The Morgan has influenced other breeds, including Tennessee Walking Horses, Quarter Horses, Standardbred, and American Saddlebreds.

Next month will provide an opportunity for Californians to become better acquainted with this versatile, handsome breed as a nationwide series of open barns across the U.S. takes place on Oct. 28 — the national on the “Day of the Morgan.”

Weber Training Stable in Agua Dulce will be a host, and longtime Morgan-lover Joy Weber is eager to share her enthusiasm. Weber, now one of the region’s primary breeders of Morgans, acquired her first one at age 12 when she went to look at a Quarter Horse for sale at a local stable and was sidetracked by a Morgan.

“I fell in love with one of the stable owners’ young Morgan geldings named Windridge Symbol and brought him home,” said Weber, whose Open Bar will go from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with riding exhibitions and many interactive activities to engage visitors. “It started a lifelong love for me with the Morgan breed and led to my own breeding program. “

Today, Weber Training Stables one of the state’s few Morgan breeding farms still producing up to a half-dozen Morgan foals every 2-3 years. She sells quite a few horses to many first-time Morgan owners, as well as longtime multi-Morgan households for show or pleasure. Weber recently sold two mares to a Morgan breeder in Austria who is trying to establish the Morgan breed overseas.

The Morgan horse is easily recognized by his proud carriage, upright graceful neck, and distinctive head with expressive eyes. Deep bodied and compact, the Morgan has strongly muscled quarters. His intelligence, willingness, zest for life, and good sense is blended with soundness of limb, athleticism, and stamina. In addition, Morgan thriftiness and longevity have made this breed a good bargain for more than 200 years.

“The Morgan horse is extremely versatile,” said Carrie Mortensen, executive director of the American Morgan Horse Association, located in Shelburne, Vt. . “We have Morgans competing around the world in saddle seat, hunter seat, western seat, competitive trail riding, hunter/jumper, Dressage, and the list goes on. They also are well-rounded and make for a wonderful family horse to have in your backyard. Our association’s motto is ‘The Horse That Chooses You,’ and that certainly describes a Morgan horse!”

The Morgan is the only registered breed of horse ever perpetuated by the U.S. Government. In 1907, the U.S. government established a Morgan breeding farm in Weybridge, Vt., to breed Morgan stallions. The U.S. Cavalry and the Remount Program, which provided Morgan stallions throughout the nation to improve the native stock for farm, city, and military use, used the stallions. During the Civil War, General Sheridan rode Rienzi, his famous Morgan charger, to rally his Union troops, and Confederate General Stonewall Jackson rode his favorite mount, Little Sorrel. In the Indian Wars, Captain Michael Keogh rode his Morgan, Comanche, in many battles.

Today’s Morgan horse averages between 14.1-15.2 hands and occasionally reaches 16 hands. They can be found in the colors chestnut, black, bay, brown, palomino, buckskin, smoky black, cremello, perlino, smoky crème. Morgans can be found in all 50 states and in more than 20 foreign countries. The Morgan has remained a stylish, spirited mount with conformation that lends itself well to a vast range of disciplines and its versatility is widely recognized. The breed’s soundness, power, and stamina make it the choice of many driving enthusiasts. Morgans comprise a large number of entries at Combined Driving and Carriage events, and was the first American breed to represent the United States in World Pairs Driving competition. Morgans also excel in many other disciplines, including Dressage, Reining, Hunter/Jumper, Competitive Trail and Endurance, and even cutting. They are gentle enough for lessons, 4-H and Pony Club involvement, and due to the steady, comfortable gaits are in great demand as therapeutic riding horses.
Countless families have gotten involved with Morgans by way of the show ring. Morgan shows offer something for everyone. From the leisurely, easy-going way of the Western Pleasure horse to the animated, energetic Park horse, Morgan show horses offer you a way to enjoy your Morgan in a competitive setting, while enjoying the company of other fun-loving Morgan exhibitors.

Other Morgan breeders in California include Vicki Smith at Alibi Morgan Farm, Sue Breiholz of Breeze On Morgans, Julia Allen Rose at Regency Morgans, and Rick and Patricia Carlson at Autumn Twilight Morgan Farm.

“Sport Morgans successfully compete with other highly specialized breeds from all over the world,” said Patricia Carlson, who has produced about 130 foals at Autumn Twilight Morgan Farm. “They are prized for their big powerful trot, super work ethic, intelligence and people-loving disposition.”

The American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA) exists to preserve, promote, and perpetuate the Morgan horse. Founded in 1909, the Morgan Horse Club (as it was then called) was formed to support the Morgan breed. It evolved with the breed, and in 1971 underwent reorganization and was renamed to reflect its increasing responsibilities. The newly named Association’s offices were in Hamilton, New York, for a number of years with brief moves to both New Hartford and Westmoreland, New York, preceding the establishment of its headquarters in Shelburne, Vermont, in 1988.

The Registry exists to maintain and ensure the record of the Morgan Horse Register. It works in tandem with breeders to uphold the soundness of all Morgan horse breeding records. In 1927, the first registration certificates were issued and to date, more than 180,000 Morgan horses have been registered. Morgans can be found across the world, from the United Kingdom to Sweden and Switzerland to Mexico and Australia.

Reliable, loyal, tireless, and versatile, a Morgan horse becomes one with people of all ages and walks of life, sharing the mutual enjoyment of every equine pastime. He is known for many things, but the one trait that distinguishes him from other breeds is his people-loving attitude. He is “The Horse that Chooses You!”

MORE ONLINE: Http://bit.ly/709_Morgan

EDITOR’S NOTE: Morgan lover Tina Elias contributed comprehensively to this article.

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