The Morgan Horse

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Morgan horses are known for their versatility, beauty, intelligence, courage and calm temperament. There are recognisable by their stylish, proud carriage; upright, graceful neck, large kind eyes and lush manes and tails.

The Morgan breed began in 1789 when a bay colt named ‘Figure’ was foaled in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. His exact breeding is something of a story is that a bay cold named Figure was given to a Vermont music teacher named Justin Morgan as part payment of a debt, while another story tells that Justin Morgan bred Figure.

Whichever is true, the accomplishments of the bay stallion, who later became known as the ‘Justin Morgan horse’ and then simply ‘Justin Morgan’ became legendary. The horse had a hard life pulling stumps and clearing those days, everyone and everything had to work hard for their keep. After a hard week clearing forests, he could still out-walk, trot and run his competitors under saddle or in harness.

Standing just over 14 hands tall, Justin Morgan’s fame spread as he wasn’t as big as colonial workhorses or as tall and long-legged as racehorses, yet he constantly out-performed both.

Figure was a tireless worker while remaining good natured and forever willing to please his master. His reputation and popular with settlers grew and his foals resembled him in beauty, temperament and strength. Figure lived to the ripe old age of 30 and died due an untreated kick wound.

Today, all registered Morgan’s trace back to this one stallion that had the unique ability to sire foals in his own likeness. The famous stallion even had a Walt Disney movie made about him, titled Justin Morgan Had a Horse.

Other famous Morgan’s that you might recognise are Zorro’s mount, ‘Tornado’, Wild Bill Hickok’s horse, “Thunder’ and Roy Rodgers famous palomino pal ‘Trigger’, who was a part Morgan.

Morgans were used in the early West’s pioneering days; as cavalry mounts during the civil war and as mounts for The Pony Express. The only surviving horse from the Battle of Little Big Horm was a Morgan named Commanche. By the 1850, Morgans were America’s most popular breed and contributed foundation stock to newer breeds of horse, including the Standard-bred, Tennesse Walker, American Saddle Horse and American Quarter Horse. The Morgan is also favoured by Police Mounted Patrols in the USA and Canada.

Morgans in Australia

Morgan horses were introduced to Australia and New Zealand more than 100 years ago to the trotting industry. The bloodlines from those original imports has since been diluted and lost into Standarbred lines. In 1974 a stallion and two mares were imported into Australia and since then further stallions and mares have been imported form America, Canada, England and New Zealand.

Breed Standard

The average size of a Morgan horse is between 14.2hh to 15.2hh. They have a natural high action, a high-held crested neck, well defined head with small ears, large, widely spaced eyes, a slightly dished nose and a small muzzle. Their bodies are compact with well-sprung ribs, well-muscled hindquarters and chest, and a short back. They are known for their thick, silky mane and tail.

Morgan horses can be bay, grey, chestnut, cremello, perlino, palomino, buckskin, and black. The first coloured Morgan’s were introduced to Australia in 2006 with the importation of an American buckskin stallion to Queensland and a Canadian cremello colt to Victoria. Purebred and part bred Morgans can be found in all states of Australia and in all types of equestrian riding.

The Morgan Horse Association of Australia Inc (MHAA) was established in 1990 to promote the breed in Australia, for more info, visit the website.

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