Popular in the United States for over 200 years, the Morgan is valued for its diverse abilities. While this horse looks great under a saddle, it also can pull heavy loads. Morgans are currently one of the United States' top show horses. These horses excel in dressage, Western and English pleasure, reining, cutting, and competitive trail riding.
Scientific & Common Names
Genus & Species - Equus ferus caballus
Common Name - Morgan
Morgan have small heads with concave faces. They are shorter horses, usually 14 to 15 hands in height. They have broad chests, strong shoulders, and muscular hindquarters. Most Morgans are brown, bay, or chestnut, but there are some specimens available in Palomino, black, and buckskin.
Morgan mares are bred around the age of 3 years, although they may be fertile at the age of 2. Waiting an extra year allows a mare to reach more of her adult size before foaling. She will foal after a pregnancy of 11 months. Some breeders use artificial insemination to breed their mares, while others breed them to stallions.
In general, Morgan horses are gentle and calm. They are legendary for their ease in training and their desire to please their trainers.
All Morgan horses can be traced back to a single stallion of uncertain origin, born in 1789. He was known by the name of his owner, Justin Morgan. He lived over 30 years in the Connecticut River Valley, siring hundreds of foals. What made Justin Morgan appealing to horse owners was his outstanding strength in relation to his size. Justin was a smaller horse, only a little over 14 hands in height. However, he could out-pull much larger draft horses. Justin Morgan was also an attractive saddle mount with fabulous endurance. Additionally, Morgan's offspring turned out to be almost exact duplicates of their sire, regardless of the dam to whom he was bred. Justin Morgan's characteristics continued on through several generations of breeding. Breeders were soon carefully interbreeding Justin Morgan's offspring to take advantage of his attractive traits. Eventually, settlers came to value Morgan horses because they were exceedingly strong for their size and were less costly to keep than a draft horse. They also were eye-catching when riding or pulling a carriage. Easterners took their Morgans to the West with them and used them for farming, mining, and ranching. Morgans contributed to the development of several other breeds, such as the Tennessee Walker, the Quarter Horse, and the Standardbred.
According to the American Morgan Horse Association, there were over 100,000 living, registered Morgans in 2007.