All about Morgan horses

  • With its unusual stance, high head carriage and long flowing tail, the Morgan horse is known as the ultimate all-rounder


    All Morgan horses can be traced back to one sire – Justin Morgan – born in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, around 1790.

    Originally called Figure, the colt was bought by a school teacher, Justin Morgan, by whose name the horse later came to be known.

    Justin Morgan’s breeding is uncertain – it has been suggested he had Thoroughbred, Arabian, Welsh Cob, Barb and even Friesian blood. One thing which is certain is his descendants inherited clean, straight limbs, muscular phy-siques and fine intelligent heads with large expressive eyes – all clear indications of quality.

    In the 1840’s a group of breeders began trying to locate descendants of the original Morgan horse. By the mid-1850’s, Morgans were growing in popularity and fetching high prices throughout America.

    The breed was introduced to Britain around 30 years ago.

    Conformation and action

    Known for its versatility and presence, the Morgan adapts to most disciplines.

    The breed possesses:

    • High natural head and neck carriage.
    • Fine expressive head, small shapely ears and large wide set eyes.
    • Deep girth and short compact body.
    • Clean smooth limbs, with short, densecannon bones and a relatively long forearm.
    • Strong, round, well-proportioned feet.
    • Free flowing, soft and silky mane and tail which are never coarse.
    • Rhythmical movement with a fairly high knee and hock action.


    • American breeds the Saddlebred, Standardbred and Tennessee Walking Horse are all descendents of the Morgan.
    • Every registered Morgan can be traced back to one of Justin Morgan’s most famous sons, Sherman, Woodburyand Bulrush.
    • Before mechanisation, the US Army chose the Morgan as the mount of soldiers and as an artillery horse.
    • Breed classes are divided into Park and Pleasure and traditional American dress is worn for both. In the ring, Park horses are judged on their exaggerated knee and hock action, while for Pleasure horses, the emphasis is on a mannerly and comfortable ride.
    • The most common colours are bay, brown, chestnut and black.
    • The unusual stance, with the hind legs splayedout parallel behind, is known as “Parked out”. Many Morgans stand this way naturally, although the posture needs refining for the showring.
    • Show Morgans are exhibited with exceptionally long flowing tails, which often trail on the floor.
    • The height ranges from around 14.1hh to around 15.2hh.
    • Renowned for its stamina, the versatile breed can turn a hoof to most disciplines and is even used as a police mount in some American states.
    • The first official breed register was published in 1894 and since that time, more than 147,000 Morgans have been registered around the world.

    For more information contact: The British Morgan Horse Society (tel: 01483 861 283), The Morgan Horse Association (UK) on (tel: 01223 833 186) or Yvonne Storkey on (01558) 685 278.

    Both organisations run shows and events throughout the year.

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