provided transportation to Saturday market and Sunday meeting. In addition, they pulled stagecoaches throughout New England. In the 1840's several breeders in Vermont and western New Hampshire began efforts to concentrate the Morgan lines. By locating second, third, and fourth generation descendants of the original Morgan horse, they established the foundations of the breed. By the mid-1850's Morgans were selling for high prices and were widely distributed across the United States.
Morgans are noted for their small ears set above a broad forehead with large, kind eyes, tapered muzzle and expressive nostrils, an arched neck set on a well angled shoulder, broad chest, short back; deep, compact bodies set on legs with flat, dense bone; round croup, and round, hard hooves. Their proud bearing gives them a distinctive beauty that catches the eye of all. The head should be expressive with broad forehead, large prominent eyes, with straight or slightly dished short face, firm fine lips, large nostrils and well-rounded jowls. The ears should be short and shapely, set rather wide apart and carried alertly. Mares may have a slightly longer ear. The throatlatch is slightly deeper than other breeds and should be refined sufficiently to allow proper flexion at the poll. The height of the Morgan ranges from 14.1 to 15.2 hands, with some individuals under or over. Coat or eye color shall have no bearing when judging Morgan horses.
The origin of the Morgan is attributed to Justin Morgan, who in 1789 acquired a bay colt named Figure. This colt was the founding sire of the Morgan breed. Figure is thought to have been sired by True Briton, a horse widely respected for his excellence and known as a sire of quality horses. Throughout his lifetime, Figure became known throughout the New England region for his compact muscular body and stylish way of moving. Word of his beauty, strength, speed, hardiness, endurance, and gentle disposition spread and his stud services were offered throughout the Connecticut River Valley and various Vermont locations over his lifetime.
Morgans were used as work horses for clearing fields and forests during the week and
Although Morgans set world-trotting records when the sport of harness racing was in its infancy, the majority of Morgans daily work was in fields and on the roads. They were highly regarded as general-purpose horses capable of performing a wide variety of tasks. During the Civil War, Morgans served as cavalry mounts and artillery horses. They were sensible under fire and could march tirelessly all day. They maintained their condition on unpredictable rations and they were loyal to their riders in all circumstances. A cavalryman was only as good as his horse and the Morgan is mentioned in many sources as a highly desired horse during the Civil War. The First Vermont Cavalry, mounted entirely on Morgans, gained a wide spread reputation as a fighting unit.
The stamina and spirit of the Morgan, combined with its build and way of traveling, contributed greatly to the formation of other American breeds. These breeds include the Standardbred, Quarter Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse, and American Saddle Horse. The first Morgan Horse Register was published in 1894. Since its establishment, the registry has listed over 179,000 Morgans with breeders located in all fifty states and overseas.
The Morgan's original breeding was for versatility, where the lifestyles of the early American families demanded that their horses be useful and strong in the field and also quick and stylish harness and riding horses. Their compact, sturdy, upright build gives it an athletic foundation while it also possesses a beautiful framework.
Today the Morgan remains true to its versatile heritage. The Morgan is a magnificent show horse, shown in saddle seat English or Western tack. It is also shown in a variety of other disciplines, including show jumping, evening, dressage, endurance, driving, competitive endurance, and trail riding.
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