Retraining the Morgan show horse for dressage

I had a horse when I was a teenager who would learn tests fast as lightning. I leased her to a five year old kid when the horse retired, and she knew all the training level tests. Kiddo went to a horse show and froze after the first halt. The judge (schooling show) told her “turn left” thinking it would jog kiddo’s memory. It jogged the mares memory instead and she promptly did the whole test on a loopy rein with the kid not steering. The judge was on the floor laughing.


Yes! We have to say 1, 2, or 3 to indicate the gait during our lessons. He was trained to respond very well to voice commands, which is super handy for me at times for my own physical reasons, but it definitely feeds his anticipatory nature.

@MsM I’m laughing at your “be good, no great, no best”. That is SO true. I feel like he’s always going “how bout now? Now? Now? Now?”. They are such characters!


I LOVE Morgans! Hope you keep posting about your progress! I don’t have any experience to share regarding re-training one though I have had Morgan horses. Only one 20 year old mare is left. I think a Morgan park harness horse is just about the most thrilling horse in the world to watch. I grew up riding in a Morgan/SH training barn. I’m grateful for having learned on such uppity horses. Mine have always exhibited such…pride. Personal pride in themselves.

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we found that Morgans adapt quickly to new adventures learning from observation rather than training

Shamrock Foxie Joy was our horse, she was a regional western pleasure champion who always placed well at nationals… a pretty horse who knew her job.

We noticed her becoming bored with going around and around in the show ring so thought she might like trail work.

The first NATRC competitive ride (fifty miles) she was on at the first P&R (pulse and respiration) vet check on the trail as the horses arrived they were put in a line and given a few minutes to recover. Saddles were removed. The other horses who were veterans of many rides dropped their heads to recover faster.

Every one looked at Foxie and asked what is he doing? She had squared up, head up , ears forward waiting to be judged… she thought this was the championship line up since saddles were off.

She learned quickly from either watching the others or listening to them laugh at her as by the end the of the season she was winning her division. The next year she was the regional division champion them went on to national champion in her division.

She easily went back to whatever she had been doing in other disciplines.

With a Morgan you can end up with a lot of tack