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horseman of any breed fancy have not heard the story of the stocky,
stylish little stallion, Figure, destined to become known by this
owner's name, Justin Morgan. This pre-potent horse spawned a dynasty
that has spanned generations.
of the breed is the stamp of its progenitor. Morgans bear his unmistakable
physically and mentally.
The Morgan is
a horse of proud bearing. He holds his delicately chiseled
head, upright, on his graceful, substantial neck. The eyes are deep
and the ears, foxy and alert. Morgans are known for long
which contribute to smooth,extended gaits. They are tough, sound,
athletic horses, heralded for their versatility, as well as their
cooperative nature. Traditional Morgan character is sought after
for the intelligence, willing attitude, calmness and tractability
the founding sire impressed upon his get.
the gaited Morgan is nearly a secret. He is so little known, that
until very recently, breed aficionados vehemently denied his existence.
Strange, considering the illustrious past of the smooth, "traveling"
Morgan. For instance, Morgan horses were instrumental as Calvary
mounts. General Stonewall Jackson's favorite horse, Little
Sorrel, or Fancy, was a ground covering, smooth gaited, "pacer"
-- most likely a singlefooter.
breeders are surprised to find new foals gaiting the paddock. Due
to the mysteries of the genetic code of gait, non-gaited mares and
stallions routinely produce gaiting offspring. Unofficial breed
estimates state that from 10 to 20 percent of all Morgans perform some sort
of intermediate gait! The gaits produced range from a true singlefoot,
for which an entire registry has been established.(The North American
Singlefooting Horse Association), to a high action rack to a form
of a running walk.
So where does this tendency come from in a "non-gaited"
more pertinent question is "where did it go?" The old
literature and indeed, the original Registry volumes, point time
and again, to "pacers" -- the often used common term for
a horse performing a gait other than a trot, rather than a true
hard pace. there were other references to "single-footers."
Gait sacrificed to "big trot"
the emphasis was on speed at the trot. As vehicles replaced horses,
the emphasis was on what placed in the show ring. Because the Morgan
rack was not as high as that of the American Saddlebred, he was
not able to compete at that level. In short, the gait was sacrificed
to the "big trot" so esteemed by roadsters and show exhibitors.
gaiting claims to fame:
- Several sons of Justin Morgan, including
Sherman and Hawkins Horse were reputedly gaited.
- Maggie Marshall,
granddaughter of the famous Morgan stallion, Black Hawk, was the
dam of the foundation sire of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed,
Allen F-1. In fact the dam of Black Hawk, himself, was believed
to be a Narragansett Pacer.
- Copperbottom was a legendary racing
Morgan of the early nineteenth century, who could win any race,
in any gait.
- Lady de Jarnette, the most renowned Morgan show mare
ever, could call upon seven perfectly developed gaits, including
the singlefoot and pace.
Bloodlines that most typically display
gait include Jubilee King and Flyhawk. The L.U. Sheep Ranch, a half
million acre Wyoming spread, ran up to 80 saddlehorses at time --
all Morgans. The singlefooters were the hands-down favorites of
the ranch hands! And a good percentage of the Calvary remounts bred
by government stables from the turn of the century on were smooth
traveling, coveted singlefooters. this all goes to show, the gaited
Morgan is nothing new, and apparently he's here to stay!
Photos: The Morgan Stallion Twilight Golden Dream. Courtesy of
The Morgan Single-footing Horse Association
2893 S 500 W
Kingman, IN 47952