The Morgan Horse – A Really Helpful Guide

Two Morgan Horses

The Morgan Horse was one of the earliest breeds of horses in the United States and was primarily known as the all-purpose horse; the Morgan breed that is more than Comfortable both in and out of the saddle, in a harness, on the race track or working in the fields. 

History & Origin of the Morgan Horse

First Morgan horse was owned by Justin Morgan in the late 1700s in New England, United States (where the name Morgan Hose originates from). To this day, the exact pedigree of the horse is unknown but based on its traits and stature, it is assumed that the Morgan horse mainly originated from Arabian and thoroughbred bloodlines. Although it has now been discovered that the Morgan horse carries the bloodlines of the welsh cob and Friesian horse too. 

What’s unique about the Morgan Horse is that its development was not the result of a planned effort of breeders to produce a particular breed of a horse designed to help maintain the local area and families. The Morgan horse is simply one of nature’s secrets for which there is no unique breeding formula. 

Justin Morgan Horse Monument
Justin Morgan Horse Monument

2 quick facts 

  • It was only during the 19th and 20th centuries that Morgan Horses were exported to other countries, including England, this is where the bloodline of the Hackney Horse originates from. 
  • To protect the development of the breed, the US department of agriculture founded the US Morgan Horse Farm in Vermont that is dedicated to the safe breeding and preservation of the Morgan Horse 

Anyway, back to the history… 

The Morgan horse has adapted with the changing nature of society, sticking to its label of the all-purpose horse. Originally these horses were used for ploughing fields and as a main mode of transportation. For example, they were often used to pull family carts. Fast-forward to the process of industrialisation; the horses’ capabilities on the race track were discovered and their resilience came alive when they were used in the cavalry during the American civil war. Today Morgan horses can be found in almost every equestrian sport… but we’ll come back to that in a moment. 

Morgan Traits and Features 

The Morgan horse is used for a variety of purposes so, it is natural to find variations in the size of present-day Morgans. However, Morgan horses still have an amazing set of unique characteristics that distinguish them as a breed. 

Three morgan horses
Three morgan horses on ranch starting to trot away

Two colours of Morgan horses competing 

These include: 

  • Standing between 14-15 hands in height 
  • Strong and muscular body 
  • Regal posture 
  • Expressive head 
  • Well arched neck 
  • Athletic nature 
  • Versatile 
  • Cooperative nature 
  • Pleasant disposition 
  • Dark and solid coat colours – bay, black and chestnut are the breeds most common colours. However, some breeders also specialise in producing palomino, grey, dun, roan which are less common 

Maintenance and owning a Morgan horse 

A great trait of the Morgan Horse is that they are known for being relatively low maintenance. They tend to need less feeding than other breeds but that is subject to how you use them. For example, if you are looking to compete then you will need a strict diet and daily routine for your horse, and as with any type of horse it is recommended that sweet feeds are kept to a minimum to keep your horse in peak health condition. Check out our blog post on Helping Horses to Eat Healthy for more information on this topic. Another reason why the Morgan Horse is a great breed to have is that they are at no high risk of disease or health issues within their bloodline, and most species live past 30 years old. 

Morgan Horse Eye

Racing and Sport 

So… why are Morgan Horses so special? (If you’re not already convinced) Despite their great history there are many things that make the Morgan Horse one of a kind, and a horse we can expect to see thriving for generations to come. These horses are great competitors and dominate almost every modern equestrian sport. From side-saddle classes and under-saddle racing to dressage, jumping and driving classes, the Morgan Horse is a force to be reckoned with in the competitive field. 

The organ is especially successful in the driving classes. One of the most challenging competitions for any horse, it is a three-day competition that includes a dressage test, followed by a marathon where the horses must navigate the obstacles and narrow trails over a 5-13-mile course. These competitions test both the mental and physical capabilities of the horse, and for the Morgan Horse, this is where they thrive! During the 1980s the stallion HvK Courageous Flaire Morgan was the world champion for this event, he dominated the field and captured hearts and eyes of spectators with his muscular stature, gleaming coat and outstanding performance. 

Horse training race

Morgan Horse racing – The HvK Courageous Flaire in action 

The original Morgan horse was a dark bay with black legs, mane, and tail. His head expressive, he had prominent dark eyes and was lively and pleasant. His ears were small, pointed, and erect and his round body was close-ribbed and athletic. 

Fun Facts about the Morgan Horse 

The original Morgan was a beautiful animal, renowned for his looks and even his manners! It was claimed that he could outrun any horse and out-pull most horses. The original, known as Figure, lived in an era of horses rather than one of power machinery that we are used to today. During this time, most roads and trails were rough, uneven and only accessible on foot. These conditions called for an extremely versatile type of horse so that workers could transport loads easily and families could have a reliable form of transport. The Morgan horse helped to accelerate businesses, agriculture and brought convenience to the social lives of many before a time of industrialisation. This breed of horse was an irreplaceable part of communities and families. 

We hope you’ve learned something new today and if you have any stories or facts about the Morgan horse that you’d like to share with us don’t hesitate to contact us!


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