The Morgan breed is the oldest recorded horse breed in the United States. Its story is one of the most beloved horse tales of all time; many of us read Justin Morgan Had A Horse as children and have reread the same tattered earmarked book to our children. The story of Figure, the plucky little stallion who founded this genuine American breed continues to capture our hearts, as does his present day descendants.
Justin Morgan was an impoverished school teacher and composer who moved to Vermont from Massachusetts in 1788. The story goes that Mr. Morgan reluctantly accepted the little bay colt as payment for monies owed to him. Although Mr. Morgan was horseman, he felt the colt was too small, and was unlikely to grow to any useful size. Luckily for all of us Figure remained blissfully unaware of his prophesied future. Instead the little colt grew up to be the little stallion that could . . . could do anything. As he grew his compact muscular body and beautiful flowing movement impressed many of the farmers and townspeople in the Vermont countryside. Word of his beauty, strength, speed, hardiness and endurance, as well as gentle disposition spread throughout New England. His ability to outrun and outpull any horse or team of horses stunned anyone who remained foolish enough to challenge the little stallion. He was in great demand as a stud, and remarkably he passed all of his wonderful characteristics not only to his offspring, but through several generations. Figure and Justin Morgan had a wonderful bond, and after Mr. Morgan's death, Figure became known as the Morgan Horse. Outliving his beloved owner, he moved on to other farms, hauled freight and served as a parade mount at militia trainings. He died in 1821 from an untreated kick from another horse. His three most sons - Sherman, Bulrush and Woodbury -passed Figure's legacy on. Today's Morgan horses all hail from Figure and continue to demonstrate the traits that made the little plain colt the little stallion who became the pride of New England.