Diamond in the Rough

(I hope it’s alright to post this here).

I am a proud new Morgan owner.  I have had horses for 24 years, but this is my first Morgan.  This past June, I found her advertised for $250 on Craigslist (not exactly the place I would normally look for my next horse but her ad caught my eye).  The poor mare was 22 years old, skinny, depressed, had improper hoof care, and an eye that needed attention (untreated injury from over a year before).  Miraculously, she came with proper papers.  I just paid the guy cash and got her out of there.  After settling her into our round pen and setting up an appointment with our vet, I contacted the owner on the papers to make sure she wasn’t stolen.  The previous owner was relieved to hear from me.  The mare fell through the cracks after a lease to own type situation that went very wrong.  The previous owner was not in a position to take her so, with her blessing, I registered her in my name.  Wow, my first Morgan!  I have admired the breed for a long time but have owned mostly stock horses or QH/Arab types.   The first step was to give her a thorough vet evaluation and gain her trust (she was flighty and unsure at first).  She only took a few days before she was following me around.  She needed boosters of everything since the previous owner could produce no vet records of any kind for the year and a half he owned her.  A trip to the local vet school for a thorough eye exam revealed good and bad news.  She was blind in her right eye but it had healed up in such a way that the eye should not cause her any further trouble and did not need to be removed.  She adapted well to being handled (the guy I bought her from had not handled much, if at all) despite her blindness.  Long grooming sessions relaxed her and I taught her  few verbal commands so she knew what to expect even if she couldn’t see it.  She has filled out nicely and her coat is a lovely dark chestnut color now.

I am amazed at the combination of spirit and tractability of Morgans.  She is a lot of horse but we seem to be developing a language to communicate.  She has a good mind so she is coming around just fine.  She is very affectionate.  She nuzzles me and gently puts her head against my chest.  Her history was as a saddle seat type horse so she is learning ‘slow, slow, slow’  instead of ‘go, go go’.  I start out our riding sessions by having her stand while I rub her neck until she relaxes.  No gimmicks or devices, just a snaffle bit and a little lunging prior to riding seems to work.  I am a trail riding  type myself.  I also need a cowpony as my poor AQHA gelding has mild navicular now (the curse of stock horses).  Perhaps she will enjoy that as well.  If I feel brave enough, I might branch into dressage with her, we’ll see.

My only issue right now is finding a saddle that fits her properly.  She has a little bit of a long back but with her naturally high head carriage, her back dips a little, not so bad as to be called ‘swayback’, but enough that I believe my Circle Y western saddle is bridging a little.  Does anyone have any suggestions as to what type/brand of western saddle might fit her?  A treeless saddle is out of our price range.

6 Responses to Diamond in the Rough

  1. RaeOfLight says:

    First of all, welcome to the wonderful world of Morgans! Based on your user name I assume you’re in Florida. There seems to be a pretty active Morgan community down there. Depending on where you are you might have some good neighbors in the breed than can help you out. Check out the Florida Morgan Horse Assoc website to see if they can put you in touch with anyone.

    Morgans can be fairly difficult to fit for saddles with their (typically) shorter backs and broad shoulders. I assume you want to stick with a western saddle? Something shorter may not totally resolve the issue of bridging with a low back, but might help. Arab trees fit Morgans well. I actually use a Dressage saddle as my primary saddle and love it (I grew up riding western and dressage saddles are almost as secure). Mine has an adjustable tree which is nice for using on multiple horses.

  2. Bless you for rescueing this old girl. Not too many Morgans fall through the cracks, but it happens and we are all happy to hear of one that is brought back to where she should be: valued and loved.

  3. flcowfarmer says:

    Thank you, RaeOfLight. I actually did contact the Morgan horse folks in my area and they are wonderful. They found out who trained my mare originally and had that person call me to give me information on her background. Tremendously helpful and nice. I also had a local trainer come out and ride the mare the first time to make sure she was alright. Unfortunately, it is a bit of a drive. I will need to experiment with different saddles. I was wondering about an endurance saddle? Anyone know if that is a good route to go for a trail riding?

    Thank you for your kind comments, Chris.

  4. RaeOfLight says:

    There’s a woman at my barn who rides Morgans and her primary saddle is an endurance saddle. She’s older and finds it to be very comfortable. And they’re built for long hours in the saddle. So I assume it would be very appropriate for trail riding. Although I’ve never sat in one myself.

    I did use an aussie saddle once when I was younger. That might be a good option as well. They are nice but I actually felt like my hips were locked in a little too much with that one. If it doesn’t sit you exactly where you’re comfortable it could get UNcomfortable real fast.

  5. Vintage_Rider says:

    God Bless for your rescue operation! Too easily this girl could have wound up on the trailer to Canada, if you know what I mean. I agree with arab tree as a try, but if you have a long backed girl, you won’t have to go shorter. You may want to try some long and low exercises and tummy lifts (person either side pulling up on her belly) or the one where you run your thumbs – hard down either side of her rump from above the tail bone down the back (many horsey folks know how to do this) to help her develop better back muscles and bring up this slight swoop. Horses that have been saddleseat often don’t get this enough and develop that swoop. In the mean time, pad it up! Best wishes and enjoy this remarkable breed! I too went from stock ponies and a few arabs and you will find this a remarkable personality cross as they have the inquisitive and human loving personality of the arab, and the work ethic of the quarter horse. Have fun! Glad you are reaching out and enjoying the welcoming community of the Morgans.

  6. Sharon says:

    You will NEVER look back! Morgans are the best! Having stated the obvious, let me add that as an owner of older and yes sometimes rehab Morgans, consider having the horse looked at by a Veterinarian Chiropractor! I was skeptical but it made a world of difference with my older rehab saddleseat horse (he had been a park horse). A good veterinarian chiropractor will assess the horse and determine how much or how little is needed. Of my 8 horses, only the one rehab horse requires “frequent” adjustments.

    It is money well spent – as a matter of fact – along with dental care, feet care, quality feed, turn out and TLC, having the horse adjusted has without a doubt helped with weight gain and stomach ulcers. Our horse was very tense and nervous when he arrived. He had gone from being in a show barn (stalled & bonkers to being turned out with no handling – so neither a good option). He was so tense that instead of having a runny stool, he would drop about 5 horse apples (not a complete movement). Anyway, within 2 weeks of his “adjustment” he would stand on cross-ties and if needed have a “complete movement”(only mothers and horse people appreciate the importance of a “movement”) Pain does lots of things to a horse (and to us). His previous owners felt he was difficult to keep weight on but I can tell you that once you remove pain and tension in a Morgan – they will get fat on air!! Good luck and Enjoy!

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