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MORGAN HISTORY
As written by Clarence D. Parks, V.M.D.
Copyright July 1952, Revised September 1954, Revised April 1959, Revised December 1961


Justin Morgan was, in at least one respect, the greatest horse recorded in history. He was the only horse of which we have record that has possessed the prepotency to establish a family, type or breed which has been able to exist basically unchanged over a period of one hundred and fifty years. Many breeds have been established during and before this time, but they have been produced by a group of individuals, none of which has marked the family after his own image, as did Justin Morgan.

These other breeds, for example, the Thoroughbred, Standard-bred and American Saddle Horse have been bred for a definite purpose and a standard of performance has guided their formation. The breeding stock of the race breeds were selected for their individual speed, and their offspring. The breeding stock of the American Saddle Breed was selected and valued in a similar manner, with show-ring performance as the goal. The type accepted has been the type of individuals most satisfactorily meeting the performance requirements. This resulting type was far from that of the animals credited as founders of the breeds.

Considering the Morgan as a breed, the circumstances of its development were completely different. The Justin Morgan Horse came into being as a new type. He and his descendants were the only animals that have ever produced that type. The breed has been one of type and type alone. In this case the type was the standard. The prepotency has been so great, the type of standard is still with us today. The present strength of this type indicates that the future of the breed holds great promise, if a standard of perfection in type is established and used as a guide by all breeders.

No breed of horse can exist for long, unless it serves a useful purpose. The Morgan type has been a useful type and has been used for a variety of purposes during it's existence. In the early years of the breed, it was the most highly prized utility harness horse. The economy of the nation has changed, and the utility of the horse has changed with it. The future of the breed depends upon his utility as a pleasure horse. No other type is so well adapted to the need of the pleasure horse owner as the Morgan. His beauty, strength, endurance, durability and mental adaptability are not equaled by any other breed, in the field of the utility horse, though many are superior for a particular purpose.

In the past, many deviations from type have been attempted, to make it more suitable for a particular purpose. When this is done, the Morgan individuality is lost, even though the suitability for the limited purpose is improved. There are already excellent breeds capable of filling every special requirement, but the Morgan is still best qualified as a utility pleasure horse. He is capable of doing everything any other horse can do, as well as his amateur owner can himself qualify in these diversified fields.

The amateur pleasure horse owner gets the greatest enjoyment from a horse that can be used in a variety of ways. The enjoyment that he receives from the use of his horse is the only excuse for ownership. This horse should be capable of good performance, both in harness and under saddle. The amateur horsemen usually wishes to invade all fields of equine sport. This means driving, trail riding, amateur show ring and under either English or Western tack. The Morgan type is the type that looks best and does best in these highly diversified fields of equine endeavor.
The number of good type Morgans available to the pleasure horse owner is far short of the demand. This market is being filled by individuals of the specialized breeds, or just by horses, most of which fall far short of the expectations of their new owners. Because of the rapid encroachment of the specialized breeds on the utility pleasure horse field, a definite Standard of Perfection is necessary, to strengthen the Morgan breed and guide it in its future production.

In New England, the concentration of Morgan blood came about early in the history of the breed, as both stallions and mares directly descended from Justin Morgan, contributed toward the breed formation. From here, stallions were taken to all parts of the country. A few mares went to them, but the numbers of Morgan horses grew from the use of stallions on the mares available. The available popular mares varied greatly in type, depending upon the section of country they were in. For example, in Kentucky, mares used in light harness or under English saddle, were more often bred to the Morgan stallions. In the Mid-West, driving horses and small work horses were being raised, and these mares came to the available Morgan stallions. The Southwest used their horses for handling cattle. These were of the type that contributed to the Quarter Horse breed, and many of them contributed to the Morgan breed as well.

Morgans from all these sections went on into the far West. In the early years of the breed, the traffic in breeding stock was, for the most part, from East to West. Recently, with rapid transportation available, the traffic in breeding stock has followed no particular pattern, and the recent generations may have a back-ground of blood from several sections of the country. The early breeders based their system of selection on the individual need for which they bred their Morgans. Some selected for greater size, some under saddle, some for speed in harness and some for stock horse work. Recently, the selection has been based on use under saddle, almost entirely, with a great difference of opinion on type. There was a great variation in the prepotency of the other than Morgan blood involved. Some was very quickly and completely dominated by the Morgan element, and some left a very definite mark. Regardless of the blood back ground or the basis of selection, all have one thing in common; the blood of Justin Morgan, and all are prepotent to some degree, for Justin Morgan's type. It is evident without question , that the prepotency of Justin Morgan and his descendents for his distinctive type, is the only factor responsible for the continuation of the type.

The stud book has been closed, with no further infusions of outside blood, a return of type is bound to come. The speed in which it returns, depends upon the degree of uniformity of purpose of the breeders.

It is reasonable to believe that the horse possessing the highest percentage of Justin Morgan's blood, with no recent infusions of potent outside blood, are the most capable of reproducing Morgan type. The intensification of the blood of Justin Morgan, with the selection of breed stock based on a standard of type perfection, will quickly eliminate the influence of outside blood, and result in a uniformity of breed type. No other young breed of horses presents the possibility of breed type uniformity, as does the Morgan. All Morgan horses have a common blood the most prepotent of all time, that of Justin Morgan.

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