What to Know About the Morgan Horse


In this Article

  • What Is a Morgan Horse?
  • What Are Morgan Horse Characteristics?
  • What Is the Morgan Horse Personality?
  • What Is the Morgan Horse Origin?
  • What to Know About Morgan Horse Care

The Morgan is a popular horse known for its many talents, stylish walk, and mild temperament. These horses are dynamic performers in shows around the country with their proud carriage and elegant athleticism. Loyal and sensible, the Morgan horse also makes for reliable mounts in police squads, therapeutic riding programs, and on trails and pathways. Being very adaptable and having a wide range of abilities, the Morgan is a winner in any task it takes on, whether in dressage competitions or hard labor on the field. 

For Morgan horse information, read on to learn about their characteristics, personality, breed history, and other interesting Morgan horse facts.

What Is a Morgan Horse?

The Morgan is a horse of many talents that soon gained the reputation as the “horse of all work.” It is widely known for its ability to pull heavy logs, its speed in races, and its ease of rideability. For many years, people have used the Morgan horse for hard labor, racing, and even for parades. Morgan horses are a favorite to help clear land. They are also used as saddle and driving horses.

The modern-day Morgan horse can be traced back to a stylish bay horse named Figure. Many Morgan horses today still possess the looks and qualities of their ancestors. Morgan horses are the only American breed of horse that descended from the same single parent.

What Are Morgan Horse Characteristics?

The average Morgan horse size is about 14.2 to 15.2 hands. That is about 57 to 61 inches. A hand is a unit of length that is used primarily today to measure the height of horses from the ground to the top of the shoulders. The size of the Morgan horse makes it seem more like a pony than a full-grown horse. Because of that, the Morgan horse has often been overlooked.

The average Morgan horse lifespan is between 20 and 30 years, with some even living past 30 when they’re well cared for. The Morgan horse has coat colors that are predominantly chestnut, bay, or brown. However, they can also be black, tan, buckskin, or gray.

Morgan horses have round and compact bodies, making them suitable to perform a wide variety of tasks.  They have upright, graceful necks; straight, clean-boned legs; and muscular quarters and shoulders. Set upon their heads are large, intelligent eyes and short-pricked ears. It’s easy to recognize a Morgan by its proud carriage and quick gait.

What Is the Morgan Horse Personality?

Morgan horses are known for their strength, endurance, and intelligence. They are reliable in pulling the largest stumps and logs day in and day out and have the endurance to cover long distances without tiring. The Morgan is often a favorite of mounted police squads because of its courage and disposition. Additionally, the Morgan is an excellent breed for driving, dressage, reining, and cutting competitions.

Because the Morgan horse temperament is so gentle, the breed is a good fit for beginners and even children to handle. Loyal, tireless, and versatile, Morgan horses excel at arduous tasks that require endurance and adaptation. As such, the National Park Service often uses Morgan horses to maintain trails and patrol the rugged backcountry. The Morgan horse is also ideal for carrying out tasks in crowded and noisy situations because of its ability to remain calm. This makes the breed popular for patrolling urban areas.

What Is the Morgan Horse Origin?

All Morgan horses of today can be traced back to one single parent, a small colt known as Figure. Figure’s owner was Justin Morgan, and the horse was soon referred to as “Morgan.” Figure’s breeding was unknown, but he was thought to be a mix of Dutch, Thoroughbred, and Arabian breeding. Though small in stature, Figure soon became known for being able to outwork and outrun any other horse, even ones that were precisely bred for the task.

While most horse breeds are developed by breeding horses of similar characteristics with each other, Figure was able to pass on his characteristics regardless of the breeding method. Today, all Morgan horses can be traced back to one of Figure’s three most famous sons: Bulrush, Sherman, and Woodbury. The three soon dominated the horse industry in New England in the 1820s.

Figure’s origin remains a mystery. It is thought that the stallion was sired by True Briton, a horse widely respected as a sire of quality horses. True Briton was able to outwalk, outrun, and out-pull all other horses.

What to Know About Morgan Horse Care

Habitat. Morgan horses thrive in cold climates. It is a warmblood horse that requires warm temperatures, but it doesn’t do well on hot and humid days. Make sure to provide your Morgan with enough shade and shelter to protect it from sunlight, wind, and icy weather. 

Grooming. The Morgan will benefit from standard grooming practices. Brush and comb the coat one to two times a week. That helps to detangle it and to remove dirt and debris. Pay additional attention to your Morgan’s mane and tail, as the hair there tends to be thicker. Make sure to regularly check the hooves for dirt, debris, and other infections.

Diet and nutrition. Morgan horses do not need as much grain and grass as other horse breeds. Standard amounts of quality grass, hay, and grains should suffice. Make sure to not overfeed them, especially sweet foods. Since it’s easy to give your Morgan too much food, make it a priority to regulate the amount of food you’re feeding.

Common health and behavior problems. The Morgan is a very healthy breed that tends to live for a long time. These horses are known for being easy to keep and having few health problems. Monitor your Morgan to ensure it doesn’t become obese, which can lead to health and soundness problems. On the other hand, if you notice that your Morgan remains thin even though it’s well-fed, take it to a veterinarian to check for worms, tooth problems, or any other health issues.

Morgan horses are susceptible to common diseases that affect most or all breeds of horses. These include Cushing’s disease, which is an abnormality in the horse’s hormone levels. If your Morgan shows signs of problems, bring it to a veterinarian to run simple diagnostic tests. The right medication can control many of the common conditions.

American Morgan Horse Association: “Breed Statement,” “FAQs – About the Morgan.”
International Museum of the Horse: “American Morgan horse.”
National Park Service: “Morgan Horse Ranch.”
Oklahoma State University: “Breeds of Livestock – Morgan horse.”
PetKeen: “Morgan Horse: Pictures, Care Guide & Breed Info.”
The Spruce Pets: “Morgan Horse: Breed Profile.”

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