As American As A Morgan

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TOUCH OF RUM, owner Ann Schmidt (MA), rider Renee Surprenant (CT)—2017 Fourth Level Open All Breeds Winner from the American Morgan Horse Association

The versatile Morgan Horse! We are celebrating this breed as our June Breed of the Month on YourDressage! We recently asked our social media followers to share photos and stories of their favorite Morgans, and we’ve got lots to share! Visit us all through the month of June as we share stories and photo galleries from Morgan owners, breeders, riders, and fans.

Dressage riders who choose Morgans as their mounts are eligible for special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards program, as the American Morgan Horse Association is a participating organization.

By Amber Wiseman

The heritage of the Morgan horse has long been intertwined with American history – from the ranches of the west to the farms of the east, hitched to a plow or undersaddle, the Morgan’s versatility is a breed characteristic that separates it from others. 

Figure, a colt of unconfirmed breeding and born in 1789, became the founding sire of the Morgan breed. Figure exemplified the versatility and longevity the Morgan breed has become known for; he pulled plows, rode as a parade mount in militia training, hauled freight, anything that needed done. The characteristics passed through generations by Figure became the pinnacle of the perfect Morgan horse, and still remains so, several hundred years later. As was the practice of the day, Figure was often referred to by his owner’s name – Justin Morgan. Eventually becoming “Morgan”, and the breed was born.

Typically, Morgans are easily identifiable, sporting a proud head carriage, high-set neck, refined or slightly dished face, and high-set tail. They can be seen in the dressage and saddleseat rings, hitched to a carriage, performing in western tack, being shown in-hand, and everywhere in between. Their unparalleled stamina and sensibility also makes them a favorite among competitive endurance riders and ranchers alike. 

Bred with type in mind, the ideal Morgan horse is personable, loyal, and eager to please their human counterpart. Conformationally, the Morgan topline is identifiable by the set of the neck in relation to the back and withers – the curve from poll to back gives the appearance that the neck originates from the top of the withers, as opposed to the front of withers as in other breeds. Morgans range from 14.1-15.2h but may be slightly smaller or larger – this compact package, combined with the desire to please and personable attitude makes the Morgan breed an excellent amateur or junior dressage mount, while maintaining the stamina and movement for the upper level work.

More information on the variety of opportunities available to Morgans through breed shows can be found on the American Morgan Horse Association website.

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