Morgan Horse History Video
Watch the history of the Morgan horse video from the Public Television TV show, Equitrekking or read the transcript.
The history of the Morgan horse is intertwined with the history of America. Learn about this versatile breed in this special Equitrekking video with interviews from Kathy Furr at the National Museum of the Morgan Horse and Steve Davis at the University of Vermont's Morgan Horse Farm with host and equestrian travel expert Darley Newman.
Video Transcript Morgan Horse Web Clip
Darley Newman: The Morgan Horse is a graceful, intelligent and versatile breed. The history of the Morgan horse is intertwined with the history of America. All Morgan horses can trace their ancestry back to a single bay colored stallion named Figure, owned by Justin Morgan, a Vermont farmer and schoolmaster.
Kathy Furr, National Museum of the Morgan Horse: He did, in May of 1791, go get the horse, brought it back to Vermont and every spring from that year on, he advertised the stallion Figure at stud as a source of income for his family. Figure really fit the needs of the hillside farmers of the day. So you could have a horse that a hillside farmer could use during to plow and log his land during the day. At night, the horse had great endurance so he was still fresh enough so at the tavern at night they could do impromptu brush races and do well with the horse. And it was also a horse that did not take a lot of feed, so he was very economical to keep. He was kind of like the jeep of the time.
Darley: Figure was well suited to frontier life in Vermont. Small but strong, elegant and high headed, Figure gained a reputation with the locals, who began to tell stories of the many triumphs of Justin Morgan’s horse. It was tradition to name the horse after the owner in those days. Figure became known as that Justin Morgan horse and went on to sire horses throughout Vermont that would gain a reputation as “horses of all work” for their ability to work long days and steadily cover a lot of rugged New England terrain.
Darley: These same attributes would cause Morgan horses to become the preferred mount for Calvary officers during the Civil War.
Kathy: In the face of battle, they didn’t flinch. They were forward going, um ready to charge, do whatever their master asked and they could outlast other types of horses that were falling.
Darley: Throughout history, Morgans would go on to carry presidents, generals,Vermonters heading West in search of gold and land, and play a key role in the development of other breeds.
Kathy: You could have a - just a backyard Morgan to take care of your kids… or if you want something that has a lot of flash and fire for the show ring. There are Morgans that are bred specifically for that.
Kathy: Whatever you need you can find a Morgan for.
Darley: Ask a Morgan enthusiast why they love Morgans, and you’ll find many different answers, even from someone like Steve Davis, who after 34 years at the Morgan Horse Farm, is still totally hooked.
Steve Davis, University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm: I love their temperament. I love their energy. When I was brought up my mentor would always ask me, say Steve, which would you rather have a horse you have to cluck to or one you got to say whoa to and I like the one you’ve got to say whoa to. That’s ready, up on the bit and ready to go. So you say whoa boy easy boy. That’s you.