Morgan Horses: A Detailed Guide On This American Breed


One day I was riding my Arabian Bronze down the road when someone on the sidewalk said, “Oh what a pretty horse! Is he a Morgan?”

This comment made me curious about the Morgan horse. I figured that the Morgan must look similar to the Arabian for someone to mistake my Arabian for one of these horses, but I wasn’t sure. I decided to look up some information on the breed which eventually turned into my studying everything from the conformation to the history of this horse breed. Now knowing extensive information on the Morgan, I figured compiling it into this post might be helpful for some.

What Is A Morgan Horse?

A Morgan Horse is an American horse breed that originated specifically in the state of Massachusetts. The first known Morgan was a mixed horse who had crosses to several different breeds. This horse, known as Figure but later named Justin Morgan, was well known for his strength, speed, and bravery and became a really popular stud. These horses are small to average in size and can stand between 14.2 and 15.2 hands high. They have a high head carriage and a high set tail and they can be seen in any solid color.

How Big Are Morgan Horses On Average?

Morgan horses seem taller than they are thanks to the tall upright way that they carry their heads. The average height of a Morgan horse is between 14.2 and 15.2 hands high. This is similar to the height of the Arabian horse who measures in at a similar height.

The average weight of the Morgan horse is between 900 and 1,100 pounds. This is fairly light for a horse, though this is a reasonable weight in regards to their height.

What Colors Can Morgan Horses Be Seen In?

The Morgan is a breed that can be seen in any solid coat color. These colors include:

  • Bay
  • Chestnut
  • Black
  • Gray
  • Red Roan
  • Blue Roan
  • Bay roan
  • Cremello
  • Perlino
  • Palomino
  • Buckskin
  • Dun

The most common colors that this breed is seen in is bay and chestnut with the most rare being Perlino and Cremello.

The History Of The Morgan

The history of the Morgan is interesting and more unique than the history of any other breed.

The Morgan is a breed that descended from a horse named Figure, who today is better known as Justin Morgan. The exact ancestors of the first Morgan horse are uncertain though there are many theories. The first theory is that the Morgan is descended from Thoroughbred and Arabian lines. Another theory is that the first Morgan was sired by a Friesian. A third theory is the thought that the breed was descended from the Welsh Cob. Though any one of these could be true, the exact origins are not known.

Whatever his origins might be, Figure, later known as Justin Morgan, was a small stallion that started the Morgan breed of horse. As a two-year-old stud colt, Figure was given to a man by the name of Justin Morgan as a gift. Mr. Morgan didn’t like that Figure was only around 14 hands high and wished for a larger horse until Figure began to show Justin Morgan what he was capable of.

Figure, despite his small size, proved his worth with his speed, stamina, and versatility. This horse was very well known in his birth state of Massachusetts for his great personality, his unbroken saddle, and harness racing records, and pulling ability.

Figure, because he was such a great horse, became an extremely popular sire and stud, and before long, hundreds of the most early Morgan horses were created.

How To Identify The Morgan

Head

The head of a Morgan horse is delicate and well shaped. The eyes are bright, alert, and kind.

Neck

Morgans have long upright necks that arch elegantly from their shoulders to their head. Their necks sit up on top of their shoulders.

Shoulders

Morgan horses have powerful shoulders that allow for good, high front action.

Chest

The deep chest of a Morgan is a trait that allows them to have the incredible stamina that they do. The reason for this is that there is more room for the lungs to expand when the chest is deeper allowing for more oxygen flow to the brain and muscles.

Back

Morgans have short strong backs that are capable of carrying heavy loads.

Croup

The croup on these horses is well rounded and isn’t easily told apart by their back as the croup is pretty level with that part of the horse.

Tail

Like that of the Arabian and the Saddlebred, the Morgan has a high set tail that runs strait off the top of their hindquarters and dock.

Legs

Short cannons and hard legs are an important trait of the Morgan horse. These horses are sound and hardy because of their good leg structure and soundness.

Standing Position

Morgans have a unique standing position that involves them stretching out their hind legs past their hindquarters. I have only ever seen Tennessee Walking Horses and Saddlebreds stand like this outside of the Morgan horse s.

What Is The Morgan Used For & Good At?

Dressage

Dressage is a popular sport that the Morgan is used for because of their great appearance, temperament, and movement. Morgans are incredible show horses that know how to turn heads and because of their looks and ability, they stand out in the Dressage arena more than other horses might.

Saddleseat

Saddle seat or flat saddle riding is another popular use of the Morgan. These horses have great front action and trotting ability making them a fairly good choice for this discipline.

General Riding

These easy going smooth horses are easy keepers and a great ride making them a popular pleasure horse. It isn’t rare that these horses are seen on trails or riding stables because of this.

Hunter Pleasure

Morgans are built more like English horses than Western horses and really do a good job of making their riders look good in the saddle. Because of this, they are often used in English Hunter Pleasure and equitation classes.

How Long Does A Morgan Horse Live On Average?

Morgans live to be between 25 and 30 years old, though some are known to live well into their thirties with adequate care and exercise. This is an average lifespan for a warmblooded horse, so they are not unique in where they live much longer than other breeds.

Fun Facts On This Breed

  • Morgans are one of the friendliest warmbloods around
  • On average, these horses can cot between $2,000 and $5,000 or more depending on their conformation, age, and training.

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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