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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have heard that prior to the 'government" morgan, many of the breed were smaller and may or may not have been gaited. Is this fact? or are they more of a 5-gaited horse like a saddlebred, not really intended for extended gait? Im not really familiar with the breed and am interested after a recent conversation.....

Jim
 

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Well, I do know that there are gaited Morgans out there. They aren't overly common because the gaiting gene is recessive. They use a gait called the Single-foot. It can also be known as the Rack. Unlike with Saddlebreds, it's a natural gait. They are born with the gaiting gene. I've ridden one and I loved the feel of the gait. You can Google more information on them but I've listed a website that will tell you more about them.

Gaited Morgans aka Naturally Gaited Morgans
 

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I think that the original Morgan was a TB and given the look of the breed and the types of pony the British settlers brought over I would think that it had a lot of welsh cob in it too - which would explain why it was said to be very strong for its size. The welsh cob evolved from older British breeds but was around in Mediaeval times when it was valued as being a comfortable riding horse because it had a smooth but fast trot
The Icelandic 5 gaited pony is said to have been taken there from Britain by the Vikings and the riding horses known as Palfreys in the Middles Ages when roads were either really bad or non existent were preferred as a means of travel above riding in carriages because they had a smooth ambling gait. The Saddlebred is a descendant of these palfreys that were brought to the US so they must have had a gaited gene
I would think the first Morgans were a lot broader and sturdier than some I've seen
 

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Yes there are occassionaly "gaited" variety of Morgans. Like stated above they realy arent that common because the gene is resessive and sparse so finding two resessive gaited genes is not that easy to come by in the Morgan breed. Also, history states that no one REALY knows the true breeding of the "original" morgan (named "Figure" later named "Justin Morgan") but that historians speculate that a Thoroughbred was the original sire but the dam was and still is unknown. The Morgan is noted primarily for its ruggedness, compact body and animated gait. Through selective breeding much refinery of the breed has been done to create a more "showy" animal. The Calvery loved Morgans because of thier ruggedness and sensible attitudes and the fact they were easy keepers. The "rack" is the most common gaited variety though some may fox trot and amble.
 

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As noted, the ancestry of "Figure" is open to all manner of debate. A TB ancestry is possible. In NE at that time the "Narragansett Pacer" was also common, as was the "Canadian Pacer." Frontier horse breeding was not known for its accurate record keeping. :)

I've always liked the Morgan horse because it is a compact, stong, and capable horse.

It was not so much a favorite of the Cavalry (they preferred the TB type horse) as it was the Artillery. It was quite capable of pulling light, field pieces and also rode well. This was a winning combination for any thinking Red Leg. :wink:

I've seen a few gaited Morgans over the years. Some were good horses; some were pretty sorry horses. I don't remember the specifics of their gait.

G.
 

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1. Morgans are, indeed, naturally gaited as has been stated. Sorry to oppose Guilherme, but I was raised in NE Ohio where the Morgan horse was held in highest regard by the old timers, both as a work horse and a saddle horse.

There are "sorry horses" in every breed, I don't care which one is being discussed and that is generally the fault of the breeder or caregiver.

There weren't too many breeders and serious Morgan folks often went into New York to buy them; paying enough for one, to buy two or three well bred Quarter Horses (back in my youthful days).

Thankfully there are breeders out there, trying to preserver the gait, rather than think they can breed the gene out, like so many trotting Morgan breeders have tried to do.

Gaited Morgans aka Naturally Gaited Morgans

Just like there are breeders trying to preserve the naturally gaited Appaloosas that perform the TRUE Indian Shuffle, not an Appy that's been crossed with a Tennessee Walker.

2. Do your Walking Horse history and you will know the Foundation Mare of Record for the Tennessee Walker is a black MORGAN mare by the name of Maggie Marshall. She is great great grand daughter to the famous Figure, a/k/a "Justin Morgan Had A Horse".

If you look at my avatar, you should be able to see why that TWH got mistaken for a Morgan more than once in his life. Only being 14.3H added to some folks confusion.

Maggie Marshall is allegedly well documented as having seven gaits.

Ivory Pal

Where it says in part:
the horse chosen as the foundation stallion of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed was ALLAN. Foaled in 1866, his sire was ALLENDORF, of elite Standardbred breeding, and his dam was MAGGIE MARSHALL, a documented seven-gaited, great-great granddaughter of FIGURE, the original Morgan horse.

Google "gaited Morgans" and more hits will come up than you have time to read:)

Yes the signature gait of a gaited Morgan is the Singlefoot. Way back in the early 1960's my granddad had a Morgan/cross mare that was a beautiful single footer.

I'll give my post about three followups before an argument ensues. Anything about Walking Horses seems to elicit beyond heated debates. Guilherme couldn't even talk about his saddle find without someone starting an argument over it:?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for all of your replies. I have never been around any morgans other than a few morgan draft crosses, but the other day I was talking to a few old timers and they were discussing morgans and the debate of gaited vs. non gaited morgans came up.

I had always heard of morgans being used more like a saddlebred where it was more of a trained rack for shows.

thanks
Jim
 

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I think the build of the modern day Morgan has probably changed and a lot and the breed suffered as a result to suit the needs and fashion of the show ring
 

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For many years, before DNA testing was required, many of the people who bred Morgans and competed saddleseat with them had a Saddlebred stallion on the place that they bred to, but the Morgan stallion got the credit for the offspring.

Which is why they are so different from the lovely Morgans of years ago.

Once DNA got going, that stopped, but of course there were Morgans that were gaited and did single footing, foxtrotting or racking, or a stepping pace.

And I've seen more than a few QH's that were loose enough in front and had a stride that I think they could have been shaken and would have hit a nice little gait too.
 

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For many years, before DNA testing was required, many of the people who bred Morgans and competed saddleseat with them had a Saddlebred stallion on the place that they bred to, but the Morgan stallion got the credit for the offspring.
I don't know if that's true or not but it certainly could be. What I do know is true and is well-documented is the "Chantilly Lace" scandal. A group of "Morgan" horses were bred, registered, sold for thousands of $$$, and later thrown out of the Morgan registry because they were in fact Morgan/Saddlebred crosses.

Back in 2002 the American Morgan Horse Association investigated a case in which a carded Morgan judge, Bruce K. Ekstrom, bred a Saddlebred mare to Morgan stallions and registered the offspring with the AMHA. It seems that just when the truth was close to coming out the Saddlebred mare was hustled off to the slaughterhouse.

It was an interesting case and proves how valuable DNA tests are in determining parentage. Here's a link to the story: Morgan Horses & Ponies

Apparently Mr. False Papers (Ekstrom) is still making a living in the horse world, just with different breeds and in different capacities: Choice of Champions International Equine Supplements

USEF Suspended Individual Judging a Dressage Fund Raiser [Archive] - Chronicle Forums

What's that old saying about a "bad penny"?
 

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I have heard that prior to the 'government" morgan, many of the breed were smaller and may or may not have been gaited. Is this fact? or are they more of a 5-gaited horse like a saddlebred, not really intended for extended gait? Im not really familiar with the breed and am interested after a recent conversation.....

Jim

It's all a bit more complex, but I'll simplify it here (in some cases a bit over simplified, but I'm not teaching a course, just trying explain the basics) :D

I will say though, that almost every Morgan I've ever seen was gaited. It's a nice smooth, fast moving gait that is a joy to ride.

In the beginning......

There was the N Pacer (I can never remember how to spell it and I'm too lazy to look it up :lol:) which was a smallish horse exceedingly popular in colonial America..... before the revolution..... and naturally gaited horse.

From that horse the American horse was developed (another naturally gaited horse but taller and very popular when the Colonies rebelled). Both these breeds are today gone. Replaced by all the various breeds that were developed from them. For a long time many horses that sprang from these extended bloodlines were simply known as Saddlers or Saddle horse. Later people started to track breeding and developed breeds with names and the "Saddlers" went away.

The Morgan, Saddlebred, TWH, RMH, etc... (there are more) all trace back to the N. Pacer. They were all....when these breeds were first developed.... naturally gaited (did it naturally and didn't need to be "taught"). That was the point of creating them. Just as one example I'll use the ASB (the stories are not too far removed for all these breeds. Just at different times, different people and some different breeds used with naturally gaited Saddlers.
The "Saddlebred" trace about 90% or more of the breed back to two gaited stallions that were the product of breeding a TB to a Saddler. These stallions (the offspring of TB x Saddler), because they were gaited, were prolifically bred to other Saddlers and their own gaited offspring. At first if there was a non gaited offspring it was culled out of the breed so that only naturally gaited animals were "Saddlebred" which quickly resulted in all Saddlebreds being gaited. That of course was in the beginning :lol:. Things changed.

Today it appears that virtually all of the once naturally gaited US breeds produce significant numbers of non gaited animals. I can remember the first time I saw a TWH that didn't gait. I didn't believe it could be a TWH, because we'd never seen one that didn't gait (it was a long time before I saw a second one). Today I can find non gaited ones as easily as gaited ones.

Why did all this happen? Horse Show industry and breeders. These breeds were created to produce functional, durable, well built, physically sound, hardworking, horses that had smooth gaits which allowed them to be ridden comfortably all day, every day. After all, when they were developed the horse was your means of transportation so a comfortable ride was greatly desired and strong, well boned animals were needed to hold up to the demands of all the work they were required to do (a horse earned it's keep).
Enter the Horse Show industry (a chance to make money from the rich horse owners wanting bragging rights for the best horse....which is all it was before it became an industry). They don't need a strong working horse and a smooth ride isn't always what's looked at or for. (e.g. In the early shows - late 1800's - a more animated trot might give you the win, so don't worry about the smooth gait...breed for the animation). Breeders follow the money. Horses soon were not what everyone used for transportation, so we can introduce animals with less substance and that give the show movements. When they win everyone will want their offspring. Soon non naturally gaited and horses that needed to be trained to gait became quite normal. Wasn't in the beginning. Today, even if you could get every breeder of any of these breeds to agree, it would take many years to reverse what's been done. It would actually be easier to just create a new all naturally gaited breed. (Hey that's not a bad idea for a young breeder who has the time, money and the right stock).

It's really a lot like the TB. Racing needed light so that they have more speed. So breeders created todays racing TB. The racing TB of today is a pale shadow of what the breed was more than 200 years ago (when races were 4 miles long and horses were much older when they ran them), but they can run faster (and that's what it's all about since it's a race)
 

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Knowing the frugal and practical New Englanders like I do, being one of them, my money would be on Figure being a mongrel of various breeds. People had to breed to fairly nearby horses. No AI or trailers back in those days. The terrain here is all mountains and rivers. No easy task moving horses a distance except by getting on and riding.

Look at the Lippitt morgans if you want to see the old style.
 

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In all likelihood, every breed known to have been established strictly in the United States, is a "mongrel". All of them had to begin from some sort of import at some point in time. Some a whole bunch easier to prove, while others will remain a bit off a mystery until the end of Time.

That isn't what the OP was asking. Once again the "debate" has morphed into a completely different sidebar.
 

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Per the original question, here is a reasonably well written article on the Morgan horse:

Morgan Families-Origin-Characteristics-Government

One glaring error is that when the Army Remount Service was formed the ideal Cavalry horse was NOT the Morgan (Government or otherwise) but ratther a TB-type horse (not a TB horse, either).

The Morgan horse was well appreciated in the Artillery (and perhaps by Infantry officers who also often rode as part of their regular duties). It was not the choice of the Remount Service and may or may not have been the choice of numbers of other Cavalry officers.

As I was doing some surfing I read a BUNCH of articles with lots of "fluff" and assumption but little to no fact. Breed chauvenism is alive and well in America!!! :wink:

G.
 

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Its an interesting story (the French Canadian horse) - though its not unlike the welsh D cobs which were heavier then than the modern breed and they would already have been in New England brought over by the settlers as they were ideal for doing anything
There are very few breeds anywhere that aren't mongrels
 

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Bald assertions of pedigree does not a answer make. :wink:

G.
Guess you didn't bother reading the site I linked to:

A study on DNA done at the University of Guelph in 1998 called "DNA DETECTIVES -Using Genetics to Pinpoint Endangered Canadian Horse Breeds" (unfortunately this article is no longer available "on-line") and "The French Connection" indicates that the Canadian and Morgan were the most closely related of the horse breeds studied.
You can argue with the study but please don't accuse me of pulling my theories out of thin air.

It's also too much of a coincidence that Justin Morgan's parents lived in Québec. Of course we will never know but the best guess for Morgan ancestry appears to be Canadian X Saddlebred.
 
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