Alright, I’ll admit it…

It’s true, and probably not a surprise, that I’ve been a diehard lover of TB’s and warmbloods for the vast majority of my riding career. It’s just an obvious side effect of wanting a horse than jumps things for  a living… you’re attracted to those who do it most naturally and are most popular. I admit that I can also be a bit of a snob about horses sometimes, although less now than I used to be.

SadieJuly3
Sadie is Hano x TB, an obvious and popular choice for a jumping horse

But my first love was not either of those breeds. As a kid I obsessed over one particular breed, collecting books and model horses and stickers and shirts and basically anything I could find with one of them on it. The breed name was even my favorite human name, and I swore someday I’d name my kid that, as a tribute to the horse. I know their whole history, I know all the different types, and to this day I still occasionally peruse dreamhorse and equine.com looking at what is available and for how much. I know most of the major breeders and have a handful of stallions that I online stalk from time to time. I’ve had the chance to ride several of them over the years and have always had a total blast. They’re forward thinking, they’re cheeky, they’re intelligent, and they’re hardy. All of my favorite qualities in a horse.

So what breed is it?

morganstatue

Morgans! Definitely not the typical choice for most horse crazy kids or jumper enthusiasts. They’re usually bay, not particularly elegant, not very big, and not very common. But there’s something about them that has always seemed so REGAL to me, even 20 years ago to my barn rat, lesson kid self. And I’m not talking about the modern show type Morgans that look more Saddlebred than anything else. I’m talking about the government/cavalry type Morgans with bigger, blockier heads, more bone, and butts so wide you could have a picnic on them.

morganhead

I’ll never forget one of the most fun rides I’ve ever had in my life… it was when I was a working student at an eventing farm in Maryland. One of the boarders had a couple of (very obese and very very cheeky) Morgans that she mainly just trail rode. Every once in a while we would get to take them out into the neighboring state park and ride around. One day I was on one of them and another working student was on another, and we decided to race each other across the top of a grassy levee beside the lake. On the count of 3 there we went on these two Morgans… legs flying, manes flying, fat just a-jiggling all over the place. They flattened themselves out and galloped for all they were worth (which, granted, was not very fast), because if there’s one thing about a Morgan, they have a ton of “try”. We were laughing so hard both of us almost fell off, and those Morgans were so proud of themselves they pranced the whole way back to the barn, neither of them wanting to let the other in front. What those two lacked in size they made up for ten times over in personality and sheer will.

morgandressage
They looked kinda like this guy but a couple hundred pounds heavier and a lot more unkempt

One of these days I’ll eventually own a Morgan. It’s on my bucket list. Or maybe even a Morgan x TB? They might not be the scopiest thing or the most athletic thing or have the best gaits or the best style, but there’s just something about them I’ve never been able to shake.

morgantaproot
Taproot Command Pilot

At one point Denny Emerson was even interviewed for an article about Morgans in eventing. I am not the only one enamored by these keen little horses.

And look at this little guy jump. Springs for legs and super honest. One of these days, little Morgan… one of these days.

Time for everyone else to fess up. What’s that “weird” breed that you’re totally smitten with, but isn’t at all mainstream for your discipline?

41 thoughts on “Alright, I’ll admit it…

  1. I LOVED Morgans growing up. My first horse was a Morgan. I evented, showed him saddle seat and even gymkana’d on him. I always loved Taproot Morgans and wanted one for years. My instructor as a kid raised Morgans so I got one of her homegrowns instead 🙂

    Ahhh memories. Now i have a fat buckskin QH who resembles a chunky monkey Morgan. Close enough 🙂

    they are fun fun rides but they never turn off. Always on on on. I can see you with a Morgan cross for sure Amanda!

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  2. On a family trip, we stopped at a very nice Morgan farm in Missouri. I wish I could remember the name!
    OTTBs will always top my list, but the other breed for me is Friesians. I want the time and money it takes to properly groom them, and I’d name them things like Morticia, Wednesday, Gomez, Ludwig, or Berlioz.

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  3. i think my first ever lesson was on a morgan called EZ. he was of the cavalry type and such a gem. there is certainly no shame in loving the morgan. and did you see that little stud colt denny posted about a few days ago? damn–i wouldn’t kick him out of my barn!
    my dream breed is akhal-teke!

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  4. I used to work at a morgan barn. The owner had several Morgans, he daughter showed them in Hunt seat and Saddle seat. There were also a few other girls with Morgans that were shown in saddle seat. They have definitely been breeding them bigger – one was close to 16.2 HH. But, as you said, they were a lot more streamlined. There was one though – he used to be a top-notch barrel racer. He was so fast, compact, with that giant neck and a huge personality. A great little horse. I definitely grew a fondness for Morgans after meeting him.

    That being said, I adore Oldenburgs (which technically don’t count because they can event as well). I would kill to have an Oldenburg baby just for dressage. However if I stick to your actual question, it would be Arabians. My very first horse was an Arabian. He was quirky, unique, and fast. He tested me constantly and probably wasn’t the best horse for a beginner, but boy did I love him!

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  5. One of the hands down BEST horses I ever knew was an old fashioned Morgan. Just as you described he had the blocky head and chunky build and he was just perfect. Won a bunch of national titles when he was younger and spent the last 10 years of his life teaching lessons to dead beginners. He was perfect 🙂

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  6. i liked morgans a lot as a kid too, and there’s one particularly spunky guy at my barn. he JUMPS lol (albeit in a not-very-educated kinda way).

    regarding breeds that aren’t mainstream for a discipline… there are some eventing arabs, especially at the lower levels, so it’s not unheard of, but i never thought much about them until i randomly started leasing one. she is SO different from the OTTBs i was used to!!

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  7. Totally Morgans for me, too. I’ve said for years that my next horse will be a Morgan. Living in Vermont, I have no excuse. They are just phenomenal horses. Pick the right one and they really can be little jumping beans.

    I got to meet Weathermont Ethan a few months ago for a work event. Here’s some pictures of him. Droooooool: https://www.facebook.com/WeathermontFarm/posts/744601012248877.

    I actually am doing some research into Morgan history right now, I started a blog about it and everything: http://figuringhistory.blogspot.com/

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  8. I guess OTTB isn’t a weird horse breed, but since I compete in recognized dressage it is a LESS suitable breed. Right? I mean, they aren’t mainstream. At the last USDF show I worked, only one horse was a pure thoroughbred. Ouch!

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  9. Daww…Morgans! I half leased this big ‘(16.2) Liver Morgan named Freddy Frog (Red) a while back that was great. Red is lot more leggy, but he was still super broad and like a big puppy dog who would just want to lick your hands in hopes that treats would magically appear. He was a 3rd Level dressage horse and also really liked to jump.

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    1. Ooops, but in response to your question. I’d like either a full Criollo or a Desert Norman. Desert Normans are your Arab x Perch cross, I’ve seen some that look quite fancy.

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  10. I read Justin Morgan had a Horse in 4th grade and I wanted a Morgan from that moment on. I love the sturdy stocky ones and rode one when I was young. Celebrity was his name and he was known around the barn for farting and sneezing at the same time under saddle.

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  11. I don’t think Arabs are weird but the first Marguerite Henry book I read was King of the Wind. I was also into Thoroughbred Horse Racing but didn’t think of TB’s as sporthorses. My mom’s coworker owned and showed arabs in everything so we went to a couple shows and breed orgs are really good at pitching their breeds to newbies. I got so much free stuff including a paper doll horse that had blankets and brushes and the folder it came in was a barn when you opened it up. I loved Arabs and ended up taking Dressage lessons on them and started jumping them too before just moving to a Discipline barn where I got reacquainted with TBs but I did get to ride the errant Arab or half arab that came in for training, earning me the nickname “Arab mumbler” lol

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  12. Aww.. I had a friend (backyard breeder) end up with a Morgan. They didn’t know much about her, so I hopped on, rode her around for a little while. I definitely agree with the “try” part of the breeding. She was confused, out of shape, and in ill-fitting tack, but still did absolutely everything I asked to the best of her ability. They ended up selling her to a dressage rider.

    Other than TBs, I fantasize about mustangs and mules. So strange. I’ve told the hubs that I totally want a young BLM mustang to bring up.

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    1. I like mustangs too. Every once in a while i look through the BLM adoption page. That’s just way more of a project than I would want, I think. Been there done that with the basically feral horses!

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  13. I was obsessed with hackney ponies when I was younger. Then I loved Arabians – not sure why. Now I’m a WB lover. I used to love TBs but more of the bigger boned old school style.

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  14. My BFF when I lived in Maryland had two Morgans and we were at an eventing barn and there were any number of working students there… however, this would have been 15 years ago so I’m guessing we’re not talking about the same barn/same Morgans, lol!

    And I know you’ll be shocked to hear this, but my favorite “weird breed” is Haflingers! 😉

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  15. I’ve always loved Quarters but I’ve got to admit, my new boy (he’s appendix quarter but mostly TB, he acts and looks like a TB and isn’t very Quarter’y, lol) is making me fall in love with Thoroughbred’s. Most people here dislike the thought of TB’s because of stereotypes.

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  16. I love my girls, but when the time comes for a new one I think I’ll go down the Connie route. And look for either a larger model or a X with a TB or a sport horse like Kika.
    Pipe dream would be to breed one or both of my girls to a Connie stallion.
    *swoon*
    Such cheeky characters with oodles of talent.

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  17. Quarter Horses. Not the peanut rolling or HUS type, but the working type. Reining horses are even better. I have owned a couple QH & appendix that were wonderful & probably the nicest horse i have owned to date was my Trak X Appendix mare. One day I will have another.

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  18. I have dreams and ambitions and a likely misguided love of mules. I don’t know what it is, the big ears maybe or that they just seem somehow different or unique, but they are at the very top of my equine bucket list of horses (or half horses) to own or ride or have something to do with.

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  19. I love saddlebreds – especially the “old style” stockier ones that are more sport-horse type. I’ve ridden Morgans too and love them – very charismatic and fun. =]

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