the morgan horse - not the other warmblood ! :no:

:no:

Hello everyone :slight_smile:

,my problem is EVERY person/trainer I come in contact with is telling me that I need to treat a morgan differently than what I am used to from owning warmbloods.

I have problems understanding it and would love to hear some advice and stories from other Morgan Owners or who came in contact with them through training etc.

just want to give him the best shot - and make life for him easier and less confusing! Help me understand how Morgans tick :slight_smile: Thank you

Snicker. You will hear from more than a few people here.

Broadly speaking – in stereotypes – Morgans are “busy” horses. They get bored easily and don’t like being “drilled.” They will memorize the dressage tests if you let them, and g-d help you when the tests change or you move up a level. They are smarter than WBs and they tend to be overachievers. They will twist themselves into pretzels trying to figure out what you want, or will just take over and decide what you want for you!

Compared to WBs, they will probably be better at collected gaits than extended gaits – which doesn’t mean they won’t try extended gaits.

Physically they tend to be easy (very easy) keepers and you’ll need to keep an eye out for signs of insulin resistance, Cushings, founder etc. Some Morgans stay fat on air. My experience has been that they are stoics about pain and that this is a mixed blessing as they will just keep trying long after they should be given a break.

I would say they are “in your face” way more than other breeds of horses. Some people take this to mean rude and pushy, but a Morgan fan will just consider it charming curiousness.

They can range from very calm to very hot… sometimes in the same horse on the same day (and a lot of owners say they will adjust their temperament to fit the rider… e.g. stay very quiet and “take care of” a little kid or a beginner, but really test someone who acts like they know what they are doing!)

They are definitely not for everyone but a good Morgan is a jewel.

Keep a good sense of humor and you’ll be fine :slight_smile:

Quietann nailed it. Not sure there’s much to add from there!

Thank you for your reply you described my boy to a T
just not the stoic part, he can be quiet dramatic in his behavior almost anxious/add

his story:
previous owner bought him as a 2 year old - was left in pasture till 4
was then gelded due to “behavior” during this time he was not worked with at all
after he was gelded sent to a parelli trainer for 4 month
and shortly after started in saddle seat which is didn’t like - they started him on a slow twist/moved on to a saddle seat double. he had only 15 rides on him till they decided he wasn’t cutting it in saddle seat ( he has NO high knee action) and dumped him in a pasture for a whole 3 years. ( this account was given to me by the owner and trainer :frowning: ) :frowning:

I decided to take him all the way back to the beginning and start him back up slow and solid.

any idea on how i could challenge him but not make him over think things but also not bore him to death?

I really like Morgans, but I have found they have more issues learning to actually use their back so I would do lots of poles/cavaletti. He might also have some fun jumping for some fun/variety.

Well, Morgans are awesome, so that must be their issue.

[QUOTE=quietann;7682578]

Broadly speaking – in stereotypes – Morgans are “busy” horses. They get bored easily and don’t like being “drilled.” They will memorize the dressage tests if you let them, and g-d help you when the tests change or you move up a level. They are smarter than WBs and they tend to be overachievers. They will twist themselves into pretzels trying to figure out what you want, or will just take over and decide what you want for you!

I would say they are “in your face” way more than other breeds of horses. Some people take this to mean rude and pushy, but a Morgan fan will just consider it charming curiousness.

They can range from very calm to very hot… sometimes in the same horse on the same day (and a lot of owners say they will adjust their temperament to fit the rider… e.g. stay very quiet and “take care of” a little kid or a beginner, but really test someone who acts like they know what they are doing!)

They are definitely not for everyone but a good Morgan is a jewel.

Keep a good sense of humor and you’ll be fine :)[/QUOTE]

I have an arabXmorgan (god help me!) and Quietann nailed it.

He’s a hard little worker and a mischievious little booger. I broke him out myself (I’m an adult ammie) and have trained him ever since.

A key difference between one of these horses and a WB is that often, with misbehavior in a WB, people will tell you to get them FORWARD!! and MAKE THEM WORK!! Well, with my guy, this strategy turns into a hot, hot mess of anxious, angry horse. In this state he tends to suck back behind the bit and get very strung out behind. A big breakthrough in our relationship came when a clinician taught me how to get him relaxed and feeling safe. We spent 30 mins of a 45 min lesson at the walk, doing spiral circles and serpentines, and he went from a sucked back, jigging mess to licking, chewing, lifting his back. Ever since then we’ve done long walk warmups, although as we’ve advanced they haven’t needed to be quite as long. If he ever gets wound up when I’m introducing a new concept, we return to the walk and get happy again. As he’s grown and matured, I can push him a lot farther before he hits the mental red zone.

This is exactly some of the advice i am looking for :slight_smile: I am used to pushing,demanding to do xyz if they don’t comply and i realized with him this backfires BADLY !

The odd thing for me is, that he settles right down when I take firm contact - again a total opposite to what I am used to.

[QUOTE=ArabDiva;7682651]
clinician taught me how to get him relaxed and feeling safe. We spent 30 mins of a 45 min lesson at the walk, doing spiral circles and serpentines, and he went from a sucked back, jigging mess to licking, chewing, lifting his back. Ever since then we’ve done long walk warmups, although as we’ve advanced they haven’t needed to be quite as long. If he ever gets wound up when I’m introducing a new concept, we return to the walk and get happy again. As he’s grown and matured, I can push him a lot farther before he hits the mental red zone.[/QUOTE]

I decided to take him all the way back to the beginning and start him back up slow and solid.

any idea on how i could challenge him but not make him over think things but also not bore him to death?

You’ll want to be very fair. Never frustrated with him. You should be able to challenge him with new things, just fine try to perfect them in one session. Don’t drill something one he gets it right. Most of them will walk through fire for you. Once they understand what you want, praise like mad and move on. You can practice something daily, but don’t do 100 repetitions a day. Do a couple and move on.

The continental style of warmblood is all about ‘submission’ which is the horse doing absolutely what it is told, down to where to put its every footfall. ‘Partnership’ works far better with horses that have brains and character, like TBs and Morgans.

I have a TB who sounds quite a lot like your boy. I’ve found that one of the best things I can do is get him out of the school. We hack out a lot. Helps because I can do a few repetitions of whatever we’re working on, then go back to hacking.

biggest problem with Morgans is the tack room isn’t big enough, you will fill the garage and most of the house with “their tack” as has been said they are a do it all horse… you need a dressage saddle, a hunt saddle, a western show saddle, a working western saddle, an endurance/competitive trail saddle, harness and cart … and believe me you can use all that track in one day on one horse and people will think you have a barn full of horses rather a barn full of tack

They learn quickly to change gaits to match the tack , head up, head down depends upon the tack.

[QUOTE=-mocha-;7682622]

any idea on how i could challenge him but not make him over think things but also not bore him to death?[/QUOTE]

Trail rides. Long slow work on hills and through varied terrain keep the body fit and the brain engaged. I find that Morgans are usually better in the arena if they have been out hacking the day before. It keeps them active but without the drilling in the ring.

Just checking in for a moment…

Yes, they can be dramatic (OMG how dramatic! mine is a drama queen) but about pain they can be very stoic.

Stretching over the back is tough for a lot of them, even the more sport-built ones like mine. We spend a lot of time getting her to stretch down at the walk and trot, long walk warmups (but not just wandering around on a loose rein, she gets bored and stops paying attention).

Saddleseat horses are taught to take contact with the bit immediately, so your guy is just doing what he was trained to do, long ago. They use it to balance themselves – keep that head up while driving the legs and body FORWARD and at speed. Using a thin bit from the get-go is normal. But ex-saddleseat horses can make awesome dressage horses once you get them to relax.

Agree 100% with trail riding, getting out of the sandbox, whatever you want to call it. My mare is 100% better when she is “schooled” lightly and ridden out a lot. It gives her a lot to think about.

OP - I’m currently riding a Lusitano part time. He has a similar personality to what quietann described and it has been a huge eye opener after my WB. He is middle aged and highly trained, so a bit different in that respect. Here’s what has helped me in addition to some of the things above:
Lots of walk breaks even when we are working. Do some trot work - stretch long and low, keep rhythm, then a walk break. Usually with light contact, as my guy wants to avoid contact at the walk. Then on to next part - some lateral work, then a walk break, some canter then a walk break.
When on him, do not just go around the ring. Many direction changes, make up patterns, that will help limit the boredom, keep the focus and relaxation.
Don’t be afraid to keep your legs on the horse, but soft and light. When I feel the horse get tense, I take deep breaths, also use my voice - “Shhhhh”. If he jigs at the walk, we do circles, leg yield, shoulder in to stop.
Poles and cavalettis - excellent. And remember that you can teach him much outside the ring - leg yielding, how to stretch and use back end walking up a hill, changes of bend around trees, etc.

Have fun

Thank you for starting yet another Morgan thread, so that we can sing the serenade to the breed! :slight_smile:

I would like to add to the wisdom of other COTHers above that you should not be worried about what he was like before.

In my experience, Morgans take a long time to mature and behaviors that can occur at four, five, or even six, will often disappear at around nine or ten (provided, handlers do not encourage them).

Some really seem to come together (mentally) at around that age. Mine did. He was lovely before, but he would stage occasional dramatic performances (read: spectacular blow-ups). He is way more solid now.

As others said, they are a sensitive breed and a varied low-key cross-training work seems to suit them best. Challenge him, but do so in small increments. Always do your best to feel of him to avoid blow-ups. Do not allow anyone else, even a trainer, to “overface” him.

When stressed or rattled, even, if it is because of being “noddy,” diffuse, diffuse, diffuse- relax him rather than make him “work” (that would be an easiest way to get a blow-up). Get him settled and then go back to work.

When spooked or worried, my Morgan, too, relaxes, when I take a firm contact with reins, sit deep, and even wrap my legs around him little tighter. It is little odd, but it seems to help him, when he feels “I am up there, ready to face the danger with him.” He was that way since the beginning.

As for Morgans being a buddy type of horse- I found that to be true with ours and I would recommend to you to find Buck22’s recent post in this thread (post # 7 mainly):

http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?441863-playful-bucks-(&p=7666951#post7666951

In there, she describes very eloquently the “dangers” of having a buddy horse (in case, your Morgan is one of those- mine is and I could not write it any better than Buck22 did).

It is always walking in a tight spot between still being good friends and being firm enough, so that they don’t quietly take over. The thing is, you have to be friends, because, otherwise, they get sad and sort of offended, but, at the same time, you can’t let them take over, when they slowly bud in and suggest that “taking turns in who is the boss is what friends do for each other.” :slight_smile:

Enjoy your Morgan!

As the proud owner of two Dressage Morgans I am loving this thread!! One poster above said it perfectly: it’s about partnership with these horses. They become rattled and offended when drilled and you need to keep them mentally engaged because they are often too smart!

It’s easy for them to go into a collected higher-level frame, so I spend the majority of our time on chewing, stretchy, relaxed over-the-back work. Mine tend to hold tension in their lumbar spine, but once it’s released and we have relaxation it is like nothing I’ve ever ridden before. Absolute harmony with horse and rider.

Personally, I have found that the more secure I am in my seat and position, the better rides I have with my Morgans because they are so sensitive to my weight distribution and really need a "pilot’ at all times.

Of course I am a bit biased, but I’ve never had a connection with another kind of horse like I do with my Morgans. Once you go Morgan it’s hard to go back :):slight_smile:

[QUOTE=candysgirl;7682764]
You’ll want to be very fair. Never frustrated with him. You should be able to challenge him with new things, just fine try to perfect them in one session. Don’t drill something one he gets it right. Most of them will walk through fire for you. Once they understand what you want, praise like mad and move on. You can practice something daily, but don’t do 100 repetitions a day. Do a couple and move on.[/QUOTE]
My not Morgan gets bored and frustrated easily. I use the rule of 3.

Do something 3 times. If she does it correctly, go on to something else.

If she does not do it correctly either she is not understanding your aids or she is not capable of performing the movement. Do something else (preferably something she does well) while you figure it out.

[QUOTE=clanter;7682772]
biggest problem with Morgans is the tack room isn’t big enough, you will fill the garage and most of the house with “their tack” as has been said they are a do it all horse… you need a dressage saddle, a hunt saddle, a western show saddle, a working western saddle, an endurance/competitive trail saddle, harness and cart … and believe me you can use all that track in one day on one horse and people will think you have a barn full of horses rather a barn full of tack

They learn quickly to change gaits to match the tack , head up, head down depends upon the tack.[/QUOTE]

yup.
My mother’s horse was a fantastic saddle seat eq. horse, was borrowed by our neighbor for eventing & ridden western on trails by my father. He also drove & pulled things out of ditches.

They’re great Americans!

Wow, quietann and a few others really nailed it! The only thing I can add is that, b/c they are so smart, you really need to build their confidence in you, or they will take over/take advantage b/c you don’t know what you are doing and so they must take care of you :slight_smile: Once they have confidence in you they will jump the moon, race through fire and walk on water–or at least try to!

They also love to test you, and will go through a phase of that at different levels of their training, but, in my experience, it is never mean or sneaky the way the WBs I’ve ridden can be. And they will continue to test you until they know you really mean it (we’re having a “it’s fun to break the right cross-tie” issue at the moment–I swear she smirks!).

And, if they aren’t understanding something they try so hard and get upset and usually it is your fault, so break it down further or get new eyes or a trainer to help b/c you probably ARE wrong :slight_smile: