"Critically Endangered" The Livestock Conservancy
Why is important to save the Foundation Morgan Horse?
For more than 200 years the breeders of Morgan horses have sought to bring forward in their offspring the best qualities the breed has to offer. Each of those that have come before us had to make tough decisions. Which horses will be bred? What qualities are most important? Often the disciple or purpose the horses were to be used for was driving decisions. Breeders of Foundation Morgans have had one purpose in mind when choosing their breeding pairs, and that was to preserve the qualities that made Morgans so desirable since the horse Figure first left his mark on America. It is the qualities of Morgan type and conformation, willingness, endurance, athleticism and heart that endured generations. It is these qualities that give substance, soundness, and mind to today's Morgans.
It is more important than ever to direct our efforts at saving the Foundation Morgan. Traditional Morgans, as they are called by the Livestock Conservancy are on the critically endangered list. We don't know how many are really still living and able to breed on. It is the concern of many that we will see the extinction of the Traditional Morgan if concerted efforts are not enacted soon.
Each Foundation Mare that is not bred to a Foundation Stallion is a loss to all successive generations that could have followed. Each time we diminish the uniqueness of these rare animals is a step toward extinction. Careful breeding and genetic preservation is now required to maintain the gene pool that is available. Future generations will need genetic diversity. It is up to those of us who choose to to breed Foundation Morgans to inform ourselves of all resources available. It is our hope that this website may serve as a place of education, resources and connection.
Attributes of Foundation Morgans
The mind of a Foundation Morgan is one of its most notable attributes. You will find them curious, bold, often fearless, yet there is a gentleness there for their humans from whom they love attention. Foundation Morgans are unflappable. They perform under stress, or in the face of change. They are quick learners and enjoy learning. They have excellent retention, with the ability to come back months later and pick up like it was yesterday. They never lose their ability to learn as witnessed by the many reports of training older horses to ride or drive. Morgan horses have the intellect to excel at complex and challenging activities which allows for their amazing versatility. Foundation Morgans have the focus of mind to be excellent ranch horses, the boldness for CDE, and the sensitivity for dressage.
A Foundation Morgan's heart is the basis for their unending drive. They are known for their try, try again attitude. They love to do what you ask of them and will continue to do that even when tired or injured. Their stamina is matched by their never quit attitude. Foundation Morgans form strong attachments to their people. They are partner horses. They love all people, but have their favorites. Foundation Morgans have been known to make choices to protect their riders at risk of injury to themselves. They are known to be especially gentle to children.
Foundation Morgans are known for their soundness and good health. They are hearty animals and easy keepers. They have excellent hooves and legs. In most environments they do not need shoes given their strong hooves. Justin Morgan would work all day pulling logs, then go on to win races against horses who had rested all day. He worked his entire life without lameness. The subsequent generations of Morgans were bred for hard work either pulling a carriage or doing farm work. As the Morgan horse moved west it was bred for long days of ranch work. Generation of Foundation Morgan have been bred for their soundness. It is the combination of great conformation, the strong bone of their legs and the hardness of their hooves that allows them to perform day after day without injury.
The attraction of the original Morgan horses was their versatility. Initially people had large draft horses to do their farm work, then another horse to pull their carriage for travel. The Morgan could do both which was ideal for family farms. He was strong enough to pull large loads, yet light and quick on his feet to pull the family carriage. Over time Morgans have been bred for more specific uses such as ranch work, or trail riding. More recently Foundation Morgans have excelled in dressage and eventing. Foundation Morgans are especially well suited for driving and endurance as well. Individual horses may have physical attributes that lend them to excel at one discipline or another however many many Foundation Morgans are trained in multiple disciplines. Their strong bone and well muscled bodies allow for years of training. You can find a Foundation Morgan horse competing in any discipline you are interested in.
Foundation Morgan Horse definition:
· The sire line must trace to Justin Morgan (very top line of pedigree)
· The horse may not have any saddlebred outcrosses after 1930*
· Offspring are categorized as 'Foundation' as long as both parents qualify
If a horse has any of these names in their pedigree they are ineligible for Foundation status: Upwey King Peavine , Admiral Denmark, Forest Whirlwind
*No saddlebred outcrosses after 1930 means no horse foaled after 1930 with a saddlebred parent. Offspring of Ladelle are exempt from this requirement as she had foals both before and after 1930.
The term Foundation Morgan refers only to 100% Foundation Morgans as defined above. Horses with 1 or more outcrosses may be referred to high percent foundation, HPF, or "foundation bred".