Shout Out to Morgan Breeders

The tragic end of Clanter’s (Clanter’s daughter’s) Socrates was not only a shock but a reminder of how precious these gorgeous, trusting creatures are to each of us. Such news hits owners and breeders alike so very hard which I must admit I recently was informed of such a passing of one I had sold (I bred Welsh Cobs) to his forever owner. She went to the extent of sending him to surgery but it was too late. He though was 18 and had lived a very pampered life thanks to her fantastic care. I think as breeders that is all we ask. A few years ago, I had to make the tough decision to retire my breeding program and just focus on riding the few that I had retained after selling the majority of my horses, cobs and ponies. Then covid came.

I have read and kept on eye on Prairie Hill’s breeding program for several years even before Clanter’s daughter acquired her gelding (I come from a large extended family who bred Morgans, more for work than show). There are many small Morgan breeders who do a wonderful job producing safe, athletic, all-rounders as well as specialists in their chosen (by their handler) discipline and Prairie Hill is just one. I was always mesmerized by the gaggle of friends (Morgan breeders) that my grandfather knew and hung out with at the various fairs and shows where I tagged along and watched. I strayed away from family tradition when I went the path of the Welsh Cob but found a Morgan or two during those years to add to my program and kept an eye on the sport Morgan movement.

When the first summer of Covid lockdown found me bored and having a wee bit of extra cash from all the lessons and shows I did not attend, I ended up purchasing a Morgan of my own for riding and developing as a sport-type. The breeder whose stock I had watched for a while had just gelded her 3 year old herd sire prospect. She had decided with two senior stallions still healthy and producing it was not the time to keep another. The first day she posted the ad, I contacted her. Two weeks later I owned a just gelded 3 year old Morgan who knew only how to halter, lead and stand tied. He was well handled but the breeder had too little time to do much else to that point. She graciously let me have him for a song.

I knew when I went to pick him up and he loaded on a trailer for the first time (never mind never having hauled) without issue I had picked the right one. Flash forward 2 years later and after starting him myself, doing hundreds of miles on the trails, and hauling out to a lesson or two, I took HTBF Colonel Brandon to his first recognized dressage show yesterday. Brandon had not had the advantage or experience like my others going to numerous schooling shows, again thanks to covid and the economy. Still throwing caution to the wind because this guy has acted like he was born broke, I took Brandon to a rather chaotic venue for his first time, without any of his buddies in tow. Most horses would have completely lost it; but, Brandon has always been a ‘people first’ kind of horse.

His first test was training level test 2 inside the big Equidome. Hilda Gurney was our judge. Poor Brandon entered the arena without question only to find out that there were no other horses in sight. Let’s just say that there wasn’t any naughty behavior at all, the transitions all happened where they were supposed to, and most if not all of the movements started out with a horse in the appropriate contact at that level…but Brandon called out during the entire test. We had Hilda in stitches, and I must confess that I was giggling too because what else can one do? Well we got out of there with a 60 and comments of ‘such strong lungs!’ and ‘tactful riding’ LOL. The test was nothing but obedient and memorable :wink:

Our next test was training 1 and it was in the North Hall which had two dressage courts side by side. This was much less daunting to Brandon except when a pigeon flew down center line directly towards us as we were approaching ‘X’. He held is ground though and the pigeon yielded to our mass LOL. We ended up with a 65 and change.

My goals were to get Brandon introduced to the show ring, not have any unscheduled dismounts, not get eliminated and to build his confidence. I owe a lot to his breeder, Hassayampa Sport Morgans, for simply producing such a levelheaded, people-oriented, sound and sane guy. The breeder may not have had the time to introduce him to tack or train him to do much other than respect his handler and lead/stop/tie, etc but like her others (which I’ve seen) her selection of crossings, instillment of manners, and exposure to just plain life gave me the opportunity to take a green bean to a level 3 dressage show for his debut and be able to laugh and have fun.

I’m often asked by people to keep an eye out for solid equine citizens that can still be had by those on a budget. Many insist that they’re none to be found. I remain shocked that Morgans continue to be the American hidden gem. It does take some searching to uncover the smaller breeding operations but they’re out there and, yes, many must be purchased as youngstock. Whether you can train your own or pay to have it trained, this breed does present some fun-filled options.

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Great first outing!

Thank you. I’m lucky that Brandon allows me to throw caution to the wind like I did when I was a kid :wink: even if I’ve been educated to think otherwise LOL…

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I’ve always had a soft spot for Morgans. I grew up in CT, where UConn had a breeding program, and my neighbor bred Lippets. His buddy in Vermont had a pair of Morgans he’d drive in parades and for weddings and such. They were mixed: a stallion and a mare, and always behaved perfectly. And today at the Groton House Classic, a Morgan stallion went around beginner novice brilliantly. Great breed!

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One of our farms, dairy and horses, was in Putnam, CT. Others were in McIndoe, VT and Springfield, MA. As a kid I saw them everywhere which is probably one reason why I did stray away. I thought, at the time, everyone had 'em.

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I have always been attracted to Morgans! Growing up in CT I knew of and visited a number of Morgan farms. (all gone now :frowning_face: ) I bought my first registered Morgan from a small local breeder. However my next and current Morgan was born in Texas and traveled through Tennessee, Florida, and New Jersey before I got him as a green six year old. You never know where you will find them.

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Such sane, smart, sound horses. One of my favorite breeds. Colonel Brandon from Sense & Sensibility, what a perfect name for one. The two of you are very lucky to have one another!

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We found the Morgans to be game for most anything, usually doing multiple disciplines often all during a day being good at each. When our kids were young and their friends who also had horses would change disciplines their parents bought them new horses specifically for that use. We bought more tack. Often one of those parents would ask were we kept finding such Good Bay horses for our kids …they had trouble accepting that all we did was buy more tack.

Many Morgans are shown very competitively by amateur owners/trainers

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Yes, I realize that they are very versatile with a reputation for being pretty darn good at many things. It’s funny, I’m drawn to bays but always felt that the Morgans weren’t going to be MY future. Part of it was peer pressure while in pony club and part of it was just being a belligerent, defiant kid. Also, while there were so many decent people and quality breeders with quality horses, having grown up in the Darling clan I also got to meet some of the less than charitable representatives of the breed (two-legged, not four-legged). To this day I think there are still some alive who are convinced one of my ‘distant’ relatives all but ruined the breed. With time, age and maybe a little sense knocked into my head by a long-missed Morgan mare and a Welsh cob x Morgan mare I started to take ‘another’ look.

Recently when our city rewrote the animal control ordinance they asked me if I had any questions. I asked if they could tell a pony from a horse since each was classed differently

Then showed them a picture of two of our Morgans, which one is the pony?

The Bay, she was 14.1+ the Buckskin was 15.2

So got them to remove the wording Horse and Pony and insert a height measurement and how to measure

To us pony or horse made no difference as all Morgans are horses

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I love Morgan and have vowed that some day I will get another. Prairie Hill is on my list. Plus I am keeping a look out for any horse with my mare listed in the pedigree. Tetonia Anna Marie. I believe her breeders went out of business as I cannot find them any more. (They were located in the Idaho panhandle.) I like the old western working breeding and Lippitt breeding.

I think the AMHA has not done a very good job selling this trusty, loyal and talented breed to the American public. I would choose a Morgan over a quarter horse any day.

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I am Morgan person through and through
And I am VERY okay with it being a small breed. Look what has happened to every breed that has become about numbers- QH’s, Arabs etc that have been bred into weirdness like GSDs and Frenchies. Ugh

And just because- This is my 3 year old mare (bought her out of TX as a yearling) Aikane’s Duet of Aces ‘Kitai’ (DJJJ Star’s Ace x Aikane’s Muchadoaboutsilver/Rosevale Leggo) bred by Pine Meadow Farm. Hopefully she will be my 100 mile horse

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I am grateful to live in Vermont, surrounded by both Morgan history and wonderful current breeders in every direction. These days I’m interested in distance riding and my 15 yr old mare is happy to go along with that idea. We have several other Morgan riding buddies that we meet up with for conditioning rides at least once a week. These horses were born to go up and down the hills here.

I agree with the poster who expressed surprise that more people aren’t drawn to Morgans. The perceptions I hear are too small, too crazy because of the show ring, too expensive because there aren’t enough breeders, and on and on. I know a lot of people live in an area where they are in fact somewhat difficult to find, but when I hear people from New England think that way, I wonder why. Most open shows and other events have a good representation of Morgans, so people must see that their versatility.



https://www.allbreedpedigree.com/windfield+effervescence

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I think one of the issues with drawing new people into Morgans is the saddleseat showing and promoting. Since that is one of the less popular disciplines, many folks are not attracted by that. Because the breed is small in numbers, many may have never seen an all-around Morgan (or not recognized it as such) And the Morgan show world version of “hunt seat” is quite different from the open show version and confuses people.

When I was looking for my all-around/dressage Morgans, I saw a number that started out saddleseat. At best, they would have to relearn how to carry themselves, but all too often, poor training had left them tense and worried and even explosive. I didnt have the facilities or desire to start a baby (Or I might have ended up with a Whippoorwill Morgan) but I did end up with green horses who have never been trained for the show ring, after much searching.

It is nice to see more breeders aiming for other markets, such as sport horse now. However, they did tend to sell as babies or command good prices if under saddle (as they should!)

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As a [former] Welsh Cob breeder of more than 25 years, I saw a distinct advantage to having a ‘small in numbers’ breed. There are still less than 5,000 registered beasts on this continent. I was typically able to sell out of my youngstock by the time they hit two. Riding welsh cobs I didn’t even have to advertise to move for decent prices. I agree whole heartedly that some of the forces that have driven the growth of other breeds weren’t always to their best advantage or for the good of the horse. Still, I think it would be nice for many of the breeders if Morgans weren’t seen through a specific pair of spectacles and I’ll just leave it at that.

I think a horse of any breed going under saddle deserves a higher price tag than youngstock for the obvious reasons. Most of the Welsh Cob youngstock I’ve seen priced this year are a good 5000-7000 higher in price than similar quality Morgan youngstock. I guess that is a huge reason why I feel that the Morgan breed for the most part is still a huge bargain, in addition to the other qualities already mentioned in previous posts. I get that many don’t want or have the appetite (be it monetary, physical or emotional) to buy so young; but, many of the same people who make such a claim seem to still go out and buy a young warmblood with all the promises and dreams and then pay someone to train it for them…except for those on the Morgan show circuit. I also still hear from those that are into driving/CDE that after looking ‘all over’ figure they’ll wait to ‘pick up a Morgan’ for next to nothing, often due to the Amish (who a few are breeding and selling for higher prices now). There’s no real question here or problem to solve, it just makes me shake my head. Obviously I’m one who loves bringing my mounts along from the ground up and do not hesitate to throw my leg over as the test dummy even at my age on a youngster who has a level head and has been handled on the line/on the ground by me. Other than those I’ve put on the ground personally, I’m finding (as well as becoming reacquainted with) more and more Morgan breeders regularly producing sane and sensible prospects with a leg on each corner that don’t require a horse whisperer to unlock the code so-to-speak.

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I have a question about the Morgan breed, perhaps someone familiar with the breed can help.

As a child I read Justin Morgan Had a Horse, so assumed for most of my life that’s what a Morgan is (small, bay, sensible, all-around horse).

At some point in my consciousness, I learned that there’s another side to Morgans. Basically, a difference between the old-style/Lippitt Morgan vs. Morgans that seem (and I’ve only seen pictures and sale ads) to be a smaller, possibly gaited?, version of an American Saddlebred. I’d assumed it was a difference in training. But is it? I saw a mention on another thread about the introduction of ASB into the Morgan line, and @MsM’s mention of saddle seat showing a couple of posts ago. What’s the history behind this?

This interests me because I own two half-Morgans who came to us through circumstance (not because we were looking for a specific horse of any breed). Their Morgan side is through the old-style/Lippitt line. Despite their questionable past these horses turned out to be level-headed rock-solid riding partners, and I’ve come to love the Morgan breed. When the time comes, I’ll likely try to find a full (Lippitt/old-style) Morgan.

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Do you think the price difference is a result of Welsh cobs getting some good national exposure as higher-level dressage horses and therefore buyers are more inclined to think of them (period), and also think of them as suitable horses for mainstream English disciplines?

Several Driving friends (including a couple who compete CDE at rated levels) have Morgans or MorganX.
All are very good looking horses, nice Drivers & also go U/S.
If I was in the market, smaller size would be a bonus.
After a couple of 17h+ horses, 15 sounds Just Right.
Current riding horse is 16h, I used to be that too @ 5’4", but I’ve shrunk 2".

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Morgans and Saddlebreds are closely related. Early on, it was legal to breed to some Saddlebreds and register as Morgan. Later on it was done illegally - probably to get more size, refinement and knee action quickly. Fortunately, DNA testing now keeps things honest (I hope)

Both breeds (and Arabs) were shown often in saddleseat classes in their breed shows and the incentive for the breeders was to breed for those classes for the high $$$ horse. Of course they were shown in other classes but that was the focus. Some Morgans had an ambling gait, but afaik, it was never used in shows.

When I was a kid, Morgans were either pony-sized backyard horses, great for the whole family; or they were extravagant show horses with long weighted feet and tails that dragged on the ground when finally undone. In open shows, they struggled to find a non-breed specific spot. Kids often wanted a bigger hunter type horse to show and they “moved up”.

Rising interest in dressage and driving CDIs , along with breeders getting more typy, athletic, yet bigger Morgans have really helped the breed survive.

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There are gaited Morgans, but not “gaited” in the saddleseat sense. More like gaited in the trail horse sense – bred to be comfortable for long rides. They have never been “illegal” but the gait gene is common enough that “show breeders” used to discard them, often unregistered, as there is no place for a strongly gaited Morgan in the breed show ring. A couple of programs – most in the Midwest and West – selectively bred for gait, though. I hear that they are becoming more popular as riders (ahem) get older and want something a little more smooth.

Obviously a Morgan fan here, even though my journey with my mare has been far from all roses. She’s decidedly quirky and very, very smart (too smart at times), but still a great horse, and has saved my butt more than once. I’d definitely look for another one if I was shopping.

I have found that the complaints about price often come from people who live in areas where QHs are a dime a dozen (not literally, but common, and cheap.)

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