When you think of a sport horse, the Morgan isn’t the breed that first pops into your head. Morgan horses don’t receive any ridicule like the Arabian, and the Morgan is often dismissed as an unworthy mount for any sport horse discipline. Morgan haters are few, Morgan lovers are fewer, and most equestrians scratch their head in even reference to the Morgan.
Here’s the best Morgan horse description I can give:
- powerhouse build
- mostly unflappable
- great character
I am not an expert in this breed, but after meeting only a few Morgans, I can pick a Morgan out of a herd of horses, so long as I’m told there’s a Morgan to be found. Morgan horses are similar to Arabians in that they really have a type. Just how Arabians look like Arabians, Morgans look like Morgans.
Since so much American sport horse breeding has become haphazard, I appreciate the Morgan horse’s definition. It’s just, well…they’re aren’t many around (only about 130,000 in the world).
When considering a large pony or small horse for a child who is moving out of ponies or starting at a point when a pony would be too small, the Morgan would be a very good choice. Though many Hunter, Jumper, Dressage, and Eventing trainers may not agree, simply because just because they aren’t Warmbloods doesn’t mean they don’t have the abilities and guess what, they don’t have Warmblood price tags either!
The Morgan’s smaller stature can be great for an adult rider as well. Morgan’s are built strong, with well sprung ribs, a short back, a nice sloping shoulder, and a nice head and neck – often looking and feeling bigger than they are. Standing 14.1-15.2 hands, the Morgan seems too small to be in competion with big 17+ hand Warmbloods, but really, well bred Morgans look like small versions of nice Warmbloods (and luckily without the health problems associated with a large horse).
In Combined Driving, the Morgan horse breed dominates and has aptly proven itself through National and International competitions. Because of their power, speed, intelligence, and demeanor, it’s no wonder Morgans are a great fit for Combined Driving.
Eventing is another discipline in which the Morgan is just starting to show its worth. Competition Morgans can make great mounts for junior riders, and a few Morgans into their early twenties have qualified for the American Eventing Championships.
If looking for a new Dressage horse, the Morgan should not be discounted. Even in a snobby Dressage barn, the Morgan could sidestep sneer simply based on it’s mystery. Given a chance, Morgans can excel in this discipline as well. The Morgan’s hit-to-miss competitive Dressage ratio is high, with over 60 Morgans competing at Level 3 or higher, based on what is undoubtedly a miniscule slice of the Dressage mount market.
The Morgan may not be the best choice for the Hunter ring; but we already know this to be true based on the biased Hunter judging system. However, with Hunters, the Morgan may not stand out as much as an Arabian, so breed discrimination in Hunter competition my not be AS big of a problem.
Jumping equestrians could utilize the Morgan horse, especially the pony size Morgans who would do great in the Pony Jumpers! Upper level Jumpers might be a little too much for the Morgan horse, though they have power and speed, their scope generally isn’t going to be enough to jump around a large Jumper course.
Morgan Horse, Sport Horse Use Weaknesses:
- size, potentially too small for a long legged rider
- not stylish or fashionable in the hunter ring
- not enough scope for bigger jumper courses
Morgan Horse, Sport Horse Use Strengths:
- affordable option for Dressage, Eventing, or lower level/pony Jumpers
- easy keepers
- size, potentially better fitting for smaller riders
- great temperament
- good feet
Surely, the Morgan may not appeal to you, and one’s attraction to the breed is important in choosing a horse. But, don’t discount the Morgan breed if given the option. Go see a Morgan, try one out. I can’t stress this enough, but Morgans often surprise equestrians with their athleticism and ability.
One thing is for sure, you will get more for your money in a Morgan. Of course, if you are looking for a Grand Prix Dressage horse, most likely you have $100k+ to spend, and the Morgan isn’t even going to be a thought (and you’re not reading an alt-horse rag like Citizen Horse).
But given more like $2k+ to spend on a new sport horse mount, take a close look at the Morgan!
Fashionable horses come and go, and it’s certainly possible the Morgan horse breed is thinning out due to it’s obscurity. But all I’m saying is if you’re looking to go against a trend, start your own trend, or need more bang for your buck, look no further than a Morgan.