The Morgan horse is an all-around good guy.
Few horse breeds can trace back to a single foundation sire, but every Morgan today can trace its lineage back to a horse named Figure, a hardy stallion who was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts in 1789. Figure passed on his looks, conformation, athleticism, and temperament to his offspring, which would eventually become the Morgan breed.
Today there are four main bloodlines of Morgans, the Brunk, Government, Lippitt, and Western Working “families.” The Lippitt family is thought to be the most pure family, but the Government family is the largest, and traces back to Morgans bred by the U.S. Morgan Horse Farm between 1905 and 1951. Purchased by the University of Vermont when government involvement ended, this farm is still in operation today.
In the early days, Morgans were used as harness racers, carriage horses, stock horses, and general saddle horses. They were used by miners in the California Gold Rush, and by the army during and after the Civil War. Today they are used for everything from pleasure riding to showing as saddle seat, driving, western, and hunt seat mounts. They are still prized for their looks, strength, and tractable personalities.
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Compact, yet refined, Morgans mature anywhere between 14.1 - 15.2 hands, and weigh about 950 pounds. They have thick manes and tails, and their tails are carried high and straight.
The Morgan has a short back, broad loins, deep flank, and well-sprung ribs. They should be well muscled, and should be built "uphill," or higher at the withers than at the croup. The neck of a Morgan should be slightly arched and come out of an angled shoulder. The top line of the neck should be longer than the bottom.
Morgans are generally bay, black, or chestnut but come in a number of less common colors as well, such as palomino, grey, and roan.
The head of a Morgan is often its most distinctive feature. With a broad forehead, a straight or slightly dished face and large eyes and nostrils, Morgans are expressive and unique. Their ears are short and shapely, and their throat latch is slightly deeper than other breeds, allowing for proper flexion at the poll.
Morgans are known for their great temperament. They are intelligent, brave, inquisitive, and eager to please. They make excellent mounts for both adults and children.
Morgans are one of over a dozen breeds found to have the allele for the genetic disease Type 1 polysaccharide storage myopathy, an autosomal dominant muscle disease caused by a missense mutation in the GYS1 gene. However, its prevalence in Morgans is low compared to other breeds.
Body image: Merriewold Morgans
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