Morgan Horse

Last Updated: March 22, 2021

Since there are various breeds of horses globally, getting the right horse can be quite a struggle. But the good thing is, you can never go wrong with a Morgan horse breed.

Although there is no particular horse breed that’s ideal for novice horse enthusiasts, the Morgan horse has attributes that make it better for families, children, and beginners. These versatile horses are riders’ favorites, popular in show mounts, and can be hobby horses.

Despite this horse breed being renowned and liked, it would be best to understand it. It’ll help you know what to expect before committing to buy it.

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Quick Facts About Morgan Horse Breed

Species Name: Equus Caballus
Family: Equidae
Care Level: Intermediate, requires attention
Temperature: Warm, between 18-59 degrees Celsius
Temperament: Gentle, loyal, friendly, active, hardworking
Color Form: Bay, black, chestnut
Lifespan: 20-30 years and more
Size: 900-1100 pounds, 57 to 62 inches
Diet: Dry hay, grass, grains, plenty of water

Morgan Horse Breed Overview

The Morgan horse breed was among the first true horse breeds to be developed in America. Interestingly, this horse breed traces its roots back to a founding stallion called Figure, born in Massachusetts in 1789.

morgan horse
Image Credit: Pete Markham, Flickr

A Vermont school teacher named Justin Morgan was given this stallion when it was just three years as a debt payment. The stallion would later be known as Morgan, after this new owner. Although Figure’s breeding remains a mystery, breeders suspected that he carried Thoroughbred, Dutch, and Arabian bloodlines due to his exquisite features.

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Over the next years, the stallion impressed the local population as it could work hard for long hours. Soon, everyone started talking about the “Justin Morgan Horse”  and would bring countless mares for him to breed.

Figure evolved into the Morgan horse breed and passed his incredible characteristics to his offspring, regardless of the mare’s breed. It became a breeding horse, a farm horse, general riding, cattle work, pulled coaches, and participated in harness racing in the 19th century.

However, the hype over this breed made people forget about ensuring the original Morgan breed’s survival. But in 1940, the U.S. Morgan Horse breeding program took charge of maintaining the species. Today, it is an all-purpose horse, gracing Morgan shows, used by police squads, and used for therapeutic riding programs.

How Much Do Morgan Horses Cost?

Since all-purpose and versatile horse breeds tend to cost more, any prospective buyer should expect to spend more on a Morgan horse breed. This breed’s prices depend on age, weight, location, and market conditions.

For instance, a registered Morgan mare’s price ranges between $2,500 and $4,000, while you could pay from $750 to $1,500 for a Morgan weanling. Yearlings of one to two years cost a bit more, with one going for $2,000 or more. It would be best for prospects to buy this horse breed in Vermont – the place it was first brought to life.

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Image Credit: Katherine, Flickr

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Typical Behavior and Temperaments

Morgans are famous for their friendliness to both owners and strangers. They are alert and proud and are always eager to please, making them easy to handle and train.

These horses are loyal, cooperative, and a generally good breed with almost no behavioral issues. They are also social and are reputably known as intelligent, courageous, and gentle horses.

The Morgan has a business-like attitude to get a job done and can be a show-off, displaying flashy actions and pulling silly antics and spunk. But still, it is a horse that’ll take care of you and is too forgiving when novices ride them.

Appearance & Varieties

Appearance

A Morgan has a short, broad head with a prominent forehead, bold eyes, and small sharp ears set wide apart. Its face is slightly short and sits gracefully on a curved neck carried high by a deep, compact body with a tail that’s attached high.

It has a strong straight back, a proud carriage, and firmly muscled quarters with high power, stamina, and endurance.  These features give it proud bearings, steady and comfortable gaits that make it a smooth ride, and an incredible therapeutic riding horse.

It also has slender, sturdy, and straight legs proportional to the horse’s size, sloping shoulders, and a distinct bearing, although it only stands at only 14.1 to 15.2 hands high (57 inches to 62 inches).

The Morgan horse is symmetrical, stylish, with a thick but silky mane and a light-weight frame that is the animal’s harness for speed bursts. An average Morgan horse breed weighs between 900 pounds and 1100 pounds, massive for a short and compact horse.

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Image Credit: Adam Franco, Flickr

Color

You can find all equine colors in Morgan horses’ coats, although bay, black, and chestnut are their traditional colors. Modern breeders also specialize in producing these breeds with Palomino, brown, crème, buckskin, pinto, gray, dun, roan, and other less common colors such as silver dapple.

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How to Take Care of Morgan Horse Breed

While owning and riding a horse looks like a rewarding and enjoyable experience, the bigger picture involves taking care of it. So, how do you take care of a Morgan horse breed?

Enclosure

Ensure to offer your horse access to large areas of land. But if you don’t have much space, be mindful of providing him enough room to walk, turn around, lie down and roll in the stables. The safest fence is the one that prevents the horse from sticking its feet or head through and high enough to discourage jumping over.

You can use wood or synthetic materials in case you make plank fences. However, they may be dangerous if they dislodge and splinter or impale the animal. And, electric wires can be an excellent option to keep the horse within the enclosure.

The enclosure’s size depends on the horse’s size and how much time it spends in the stall. For instance, larger and mature Morgan horses require more footage than ponies. Generally, a 12-foot by 12-foot stall is suitable for a 1,000-pound horse, and the stall’s wall should be one and a half times the horse’s height.

a morgan horse
Image Credit: Rosewoman, Flickr

Bedding

Although horses can sleep standing up, these breeds require room in their stalls to lay down. For this reason, you should keep the stalls clean, for the horse to lie down without getting filthy.

But before you find the right material to use for your horse’s bedding, it would be best to find out and eliminate the one that could be allergic to your animal. The most common bedding material for a Morgan horse includes straw, newspaper, paper shreds, and shavings.

Temperature

The good thing is, Morgan horses can thrive in cold climates. However, it is not the case on hot and humid days.

It is a warmblood horse that requires warm temperatures, between 18 to 59 degrees Celsius. It is vital to provide your horse with adequate shade and shelter to protect it from moisture, wind, and icy weather.

Lighting

Just like other horses, Morgans require 16 hours of continuous light with 8 hours of darkness daily.

Do Morgan Horse Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Morgan horses are renowned for their sweet dispositions. For this reason, these horses can bond with other animals and pets as long as they have similar temperaments.

Since they are social herd animals, they thrive when around other horses or heard animals like donkeys and cows. They can co-exist with other equines, cats, sheep, goats, camelids, dogs, and even chicken.

However, these equines tend to take issues with other pets like butterflies, lizards, and birds.  The reason is, the Morgan horses get spooked by a small and unexpected flash of color, which these small animals can cause when they suddenly appear and disappear before them.

These horses also possess a natural reaction to kick or bite when around pigs or untrained cats and dogs that might threaten the equine. Therefore, it would be best for horse owners to train their horses and other pets to interact and co-exist.

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Image Credit: Adam Franco, Flickr

A dog will be a great companion for your horse if it understands that it should not be chasing or nipping at your horse. As much as you would like all your pets to co-exist, it would be best to separate them if they prove to struggle in forming a relationship.

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What to Feed Your Morgan Horse

Morgan horses are easy keepers, preventing owners from spending too much on their feeds. These horses require minimum food than most of the other mature horse breeds.

A Morgan horse survives on a standard diet of quality hay, grass, grains, and plenty of clean water. Salt, concentrated, fruits and veggies can boost their diets too. However, owners need to refrain from over-feeding or giving sweet foods to their horses to prevent obesity and weight-related issues.

A Morgan’s weight is ideal if you can run your finger through its barrel and feel the ribs without the need to push through a layer of fat. However, it would be best if you did not underfeed your equine until the ribs become visible.

Feed each Morgan horse independently as they may have varying nutrition and care requirements depending on their age, condition, and activity levels. Just like other horses, Morgan horses are non-ruminant as they possess one stomach as humans.

For this reason, it would be best to offer your horse food in small amounts but steadily throughout the day. It would be best to check with your vet to evaluate its nutrition needs, how often and how much, based on its characteristics.

Keeping Your Morgan Horse Healthy

You can use standard horse grooming practices on a Morgan horse. For instance, brush and comb its coat at least twice a week to remove debris, tangles, and dirt.

Morgan horses on snow
Image Credit: Molly Lockhart, Flickr

It is equally important to clean its thick mane and tail that’s prone to mats. Check its hooves, clean and trim them every six to eight weeks. And, be mindful of dirt, debris, infections, and injuries on the feet.

Keep the floors dry and use good absorbers and anti-slip for flooring materials. It also means that you’d have to clean its bedding daily by removing the waste, sweeping out the bed, and laying back a clean one. Like any animal, horse owners should ensure that their horses are kept up to date with treatment, vaccinations, and necessary vet visits.

The Morgan horse breed is genetically linked to equine polysaccharide storage myopathy. This condition is common in heavily-muscled horses and can harm their muscles and tissues and cause pain and stiffness.

For this reason, owners should adopt healthy diets and develop an exercise regime for their horses. A Morgan Horse breed that gets good maintenance, sufficient dieting, exercise, and love can live from 20 to 30 years and beyond.

Breeding

Once you decide to breed your Morgan horse, you’ll need to assess the mare and the stallion you’ll be mating. It is the right breeding candidate if it’s a dependable trail-riding equine, participates in stellar shows, or a renowned dressage performer.

The parent horses’ contributions are essential considerations because Morgan horses pass down their traits to their offsprings. Consider the mare’s bloodline, temperament, size, athletic prowess, and conformation when breeding.

Morgan mares breed depending on the seasons. The breeding success depends on the number of daylight hours, temperature, climatic conditions, and nutrition. These mares begin to ovulate naturally when daylight hours and temperatures increase.

A mare in heat will raise its tail, wink, squat, urinate and throw pleasant signs if a stallion is around. The stallion will respond by smelling the mare, and they’ll mate.

Horse owners can remate the pair to increase the success rates. If it’s successful, aw mare’s average gestation length will range from 330 to 362 days.

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Are Morgan Horse Breed Suitable for You?

Find a Morgan horse breed if you are looking for a family horse or a prospective equestrian. These horses have gentle and calm dispositions, are versatile, and easy to manage. Better still, they can be good with children as they are social and loyal.

These horses are people-pleasers and love human attention. And, since they are easy keepers and require less food than other horse breeds, you’ll have no hard time or inflated expenses feeding them.

The good thing is Morgan horse owners delight in these animals’ beauty and charisma. With the right budget plan, food, exercise schedules, and love, owners can find best friends in Morgan horses.


Featured Image: Molly Lockhart, Flickr