A Simple Question

Let me ask a simple question. Why are we as a group so intent on destroying the Morgan breed?  Why are we so preoccupied with pointing fingers at each other when we should be spending our efforts in promoting the breed? Why are we so intent on putting labels on what other Morgan owners and breeders are doing? I have groups telling me that if I “Show” horses I cannot “Use” horses for other activities. Other groups are telling me if my Morgan has one cross to a particular horse over 80 years ago it is somehow less of a Morgan and not “Foundation”. What are we doing here? Are we so jealous of other people that we have to spend all our waking hours trying to bring them down?

I hate to burst everyone’s bubble but you can “Show” and “Use” a Morgan at the same time. It is done every day. Who are you to tell me I can’t show my Western Pleasure horse on the weekend and ride it on the trail during the week? Is the some obscure Law that states “Thou shall not drive your Morgan over hill and dale and then exhibit in a Class A Show”? Who are you to tell me if I do these things I have to wear some sort a label?

Likewise there is only one Foundation horse in this breed, and if you forgot his name was Figure. Of all the ludicrous things I have ever heard is that a grandson of Figure’s is “Foundation” and a granddaughter may not be “Foundation. A Justin Morgan son out of an outcross mare is “Foundation”, a daughter of Justin Morgan bred by an outcross stallion is not (“their male sire line must trace directly to Justin Morgan”). I hate to tell you this they BOTH carry the same amount of Justin Morgan genes (simple genetics).

You can label me if it somehow makes you feel superior, but don’t expect me to embrace your label. You can tell me that somehow your Morgan is more Morgan then mine, but don’t expect me to agree with your preposterous argument.  

Grow up people. If we continue to fight among ourselves we will undermine the breed and in the long run destroy it.

20 Responses to A Simple Question

  1. RaeOfLight says:

    Actually, I think many people who visit and comment on this site would agree with you Richill. I’m not going to say there have not been any negative comments here, but it’s hard to keep a positive attitude when there is a continuous barrage of attacks against the AMHA. There’s a lot of time and energy focused on diffusing these attacks that could be better spent promoting the breed and going toward positive growth or at least programs for the existing members. I desperately hope (but remain cynical) that if the current proposal submitted to the membership for vote does not pass the attacks may taper off.


  2. lauralin28 says:

    Richill, as RaeOfLight said before me, I think most of the people who comment here agree with you. I certainly do.

    My black mare (who has a very modern type sireline) looks more ‘Foundation’ than many of the ‘Foundation’ Morgans do! But because she has Upwey King Peavine, she’s not. Perhaps someone should tell my mare that she should not look more like Justin Morgan than a lot of the ‘Foundation’ Morgans..

    (By the way, she is also one of the AC4H Broker horses.. note road shoes and excessive heel, will be corrected soon)

    Does she not prove that a Modern type stallion (Futurity’s Ellusion, by Futurity’s Royal Love, out of Futurity’s Hot Fudge, who is by Rapidan Apollo) can still produce a Traditional type horse? Does that not prove that, in the end, Morgans are Morgans?

    Splitting the breed up will do nothing for us in the long run. Are we not all lovers of the breed, no matter what we choose to do with them?

  3. Vintage_Rider says:

    She’s beautiful Lauralin! Have fun with her!

  4. Richill says:

    This is a copy of an email that I just sent The Foundation Morgan Horse Society:

    You are using the names of my horses (Richlou Adonis and RTF prefix horses) on your list of qualified Foundation Horses without my permission. This implies that I support your attempt to fragment the Morgan breed and I DO NOT. I do not, nor have I ever supported your efforts to place label’s on any Morgan Horse. I demand that you immediately remove Richlou Adonis and any RTF prefixed horse from your list and refrain in the future from in any way use any Morgan that was bred by Richill Morgan Horse Farm from your web site or any way imply that I support your efforts. Failure to comply will lead to legal action.

    Richard Trower
    Richill Morgan Horse Farm

  5. RaeOfLight says:

    Great, just what the breed needs. More legal action…

    “Why are we so preoccupied with pointing fingers at each other when we should be spending our efforts in promoting the breed? … Grow up people. If we continue to fight among ourselves we will undermine the breed and in the long run destroy it.”

    I suggest you take your own advice Richill. What do you care what the Foundation Morgan Horse Society does? Sending them vitriolic letters like this does exactly what you’re saying is causing so much destruction within the breed.

  6. underdog88 says:


    I agree wholeheartedly with you about what you said in both posts! The fact that we have one single Foundation horse is sooo important to remember! I really enjoy people who love the Morgan Horse and believe that Morgans are Morgans, and who DO NOT think it’s right or correct to essentially make two breeds of Morgan- because there is just one!

    I just checked out your website as well and LOVED the fact that your beautiful Richlou Adonis was 16.2 hands high. It always seems like the people who think that “qualified ‘Foundation’ Morgans” are the only “real Morgans” also believe that taller heights are the product of “non-Foundation blood” or tainted blood or whatever. Your stallion clearly proves that that is rubbish, as so many other Morgans have. My gelding is nearly that height and is extremely typey. I was once asked how tall he was by a non-Morgan riding horse-person. When I responded, she shook her head and said “oh, well then he’s not a Morgan.” I told her he was registered with the AMHA, and she said (still doubting me) “well there must be something else in there, Morgans don’t get to that height.” That was frustrating!

  7. Richill says:

    Someone must take a stand.

  8. lauralin28 says:

    This is a bit off topic, but your horses are wonderful, Richill.

  9. Flmorgan says:

    The Morgan Breed is suported by money and the Show Horses and the Ads they generate support this. Big Breeders pay the fees to register their stock as well. The smaller Sport horse breeders have to face that fact. They don’t advertise and promote like the Training Barns and the Breeding Operations. I don’t know whaqt we are fighting about as most breed have different types of horses with in their own registries. AQHA has Halter, Pleasure, Performance ie; reining and speed/ Appendix reg. Paint has Halter, Pleasure and performance, Arabs have Egyption, and Polish lines and types. So why are we so different? We have a showier finer Show horse and a sporty stockier Sport horse. So what is my horse? He’s old Goverment, UVM Flash, Applevale, etc. He has shown Western and now is jumping with all the sport horse both Morgans and non Morgan and shows Hunter Pl. Is he Show or Use? Trailrides too. I have another mare that shows Classic and Academy and also Barrel Races see Aug. TMH.
    We are destroying a great breed of horses. In these economic times we need to stick together. I have a “foundation” Old Goverment, Brunk and UVM mare bred to a ” foundation” stallion for a Western reining ” sport ” foal. Will that foal be USE or SHOW? I know on e thing it will be MOrgan.
    Lets get together. Every Morgan has a event they can be trained to compete in. Most show horse even the Park HOrse we have will trail ride.

  10. colwilrin says:

    The saddest thing about all this is that it has been caused by a VERY small handful of people. Unfortunately, they are very loud (internet-wise) and have managed to find financial backing to support endless lawsuits. By providing misinformation (see plaintiff’s depositions) they have also managed to convince some very uninformed life members to sign up for these suits. Before the internet age, it would be very easy to ignore this fringe of malcontents, but now a conversation between three or four people snowballed into an entire chasm in the breed.

    It IS time for the rest of the membership to stand up together and tell this small group that we are DONE with their shenanigans and attempts to divide the Morgan people. Richard has taken a wonderful step towards that, and I commend him.

  11. leslie says:

    I’m with RaeofLight on this one. I don’t think that threatening legal action against the foundation Morgan people is in any way helping to promote unity within the breed, and besides that I don’t think there’s anything unlawful about including your horses’ names on a list.

    Moreover, you’re preaching to the choir here. No one likes #3, and there’s nothing new to say about it until we find out how the votes turn out next month. Can’t we move on?

  12. dressagemorganrider says:

    I’m as close to “the other side” as you might find here, and I don’t support #3; nor do I support lawsuits over publishing a name of a horse as having certain bloodlines.

    I know the story about Upwey King Peavine, and as far as I am concerned, what’s done is done; that whole thing happened when my parents were grade-schoolers. At least everyone was above board about the horse being a Saddlebred, albeit one with a lot of Morgan blood, and tail male to Justin Morgan. My horse has a few crosses to UKP and I really don’t care that this makes her ineligible for Foundation status.

    Where I do have sympathy for the “other side” is in behind-the-barn but not acknowledged use of Saddlebreds surrepitiously, *after* the Registry was closed, to get something closer to a Saddlebred show horse that could be falsely registered as a Morgan. That practice took the breed away from what it was meant to be, and made us look bad in the rest of the horse world. I was somewhat shocked to see a comment on another post here of someone basically saying that the Morgan is a “mutt” and therefore Saddlebred crosses should be allowed. I will ask the common question: if you want a horse that’s more like a Saddlebred, why not just move over to the pure Saddlebred world?

    Per someone’s comment about TMH and sport breeders: they don’t advertise in TMH because that’s not where their market’s eyes are. Also, if they’re showing in open shows rather than breed shows, it’s not so important that the breed show world know who their horses are. With money tight, it makes no sense to spend money on marketing that won’t bring you a return.

  13. Dressagerider: Please re-read my post. Your interpretation is completely wrong. The point I have tried to make in many of my past posts is that the influx of outside blood (legally or otherwise) had a profound effect on the capability of Morgans. I did NOT say that Saddlebred crosses should continue to be allowed and instead pointed out that the registry is now double-locked and we are not going to have any outside blood come in. Will “extreme” non-typey Morgans who look nothing like morgans continue to be bred-yes, for several generations, and then the sheer weight of breed genetics will overcome the homely heads, cat-hams, flat croups and snaky necks (unless a dedicated group of breeders splits off in which case they quickly become irrelevant to the breed as a whole).
    I will argue, however, that with care we can keep the positive contributions of the outside breedings-the hingey polls, the size, the train-ability which have made some of the “show” lines such a joy to work with.

    Dressagerider-you as a dressage rider can appreciate the athleticism of the best of the warm-bloods. These are “mutts”, usually a mixture of Arab, Heavy Cavalry and Draft blood all mixed together in the 18th and 19th centuries. The breeding horses have to pass a keuring in order to be accepted. In that fashion, they are not really a “breed” of horse, and are not judged by who their ancestors were, but instead by their own capabilities (another great idea which has been discussed on this blog)

    So, my question is, would you rather ride a “Foundation” high % Morgan who has much of his body mass in his crest, or would you like to compete with a Morgan who can set his head, drive off his hind end but who has a really iffy question of whether his grandsire is who the papers says he is? Until DNA testing became mandatory, my choice would have been to promote the horse who had the strongest Morgan type, because that would protect the breed long term. Now that we have testing, and we know that there is a very low likelihood of outside blood coming in, I say let us enjoy the athleticism of the not-quite-so-typey Morgan, because long term the Morgan genetics will dominate.

  14. One more comment: Breeding horses is heart-breaking work. It is like sweeping back the tide. The weight of all the past generations is so overwhelming that to make an incremental improvement to this generation is incredibly difficult. Just look at the magazines-the rip-snortin’ world-changin’ park horse of 15 years ago now has his grandchildren in an Amish sale. The real spark often comes from hybrid vigor, but that wanes in just a generation. Whether a stallion 20 years ago was a saddlebred/hackney really won’t matter a —- after another 20 years.

  15. RaeOfLight says:

    DressageRider: You know, people may hem and haw about the lack of sport horse advertising in TMH. I do love having breed-oriented magazines and all, but honestly, advertising in multi-breed mags is such a better way to generate breed interest. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again, advertising in TMH or TMC in a lot of ways is like “preaching to the choir”. While some may wish your advertising $$ were going to breed-oriented publications, I also say kudos for putting our breed in front of non-Morgan eyes.

  16. dressagemorganrider says:

    Chris, interesting ideas. And yes, the “saddlebredy” Morgans will disappear over time, as long as judges don’t pin them. The sport/foundation/WW side of things does not have an equivalent competitive process, mostly because there’s so much to be had in open competition in these fields.

    I do appreciate WBs but at this point I prefer a more baroque and smaller horse, which is why I chose a Morgan. However, the current controversial dressage sensation Totilas, a Trakhener/Dutch WB cross, has little TB blood and is very baroque. Some of the WB books are basically closed, e.g. the Trakheners, and the rest are mostly very, very picky about what outside blood they will take in. And they are “above ground” about what they do take in.

    It’s the dishonesty that bothers me the most about the Morgan breeding pre-DNA typing, but it’s done with now, a few horses got kicked out of the registry and more probably should have been, if “honesty in breeding” was a rule.

    Oddly enough, my horse is one of the lighter-built ones. She is about 80% foundation breeding, but I sometimes get asked if she is part-Saddlebred. To the best of my knowledge, she has no behind-the-barn Saddlebred blood, just UKP through Kingston. She is hingey at the poll, sure, but I spend a lot of time trying to get her to extend her neck and not go around curled up into a ball.

    The big crests common to Foundation Morgans can be a result of insulin resistance, and I wonder how many big crests would disappear with the proper diet. I once had an opportunity to buy a 15.3 hand pure Lippitt gelding and if I had, the first thing that would have happened was a diet change as he had a huge crest on an otherwise fairly light build.

    (Of and I should correct myself above: UKP did NOT have Justin Morgan in tail-male, and that alone should have disqualified him from the Registry… but what’s done is done, he was a good horse… As it was explained to me, he was allowed in because his owner offered to finance the struggling Registry during the Depression.)

  17. underdog88 says:


    This is a bit off-topic but…

    What is the controversy you mentioned with Totilas? I am a big fan of that horse and have a strong interest in dressage (particularly grand prix), but I do not ride or show dressage so I’m not always up-to-date on news from that sector of the horse world.

  18. leslie says:

    A lot of people don’t like his way of going, think it looks artificial. When he first started breaking records, a German newspaper referred to him as a circus horse. There’s a website that consists of nothing but still photos showing that his trot is actually a broken gait (his hooves don’t hit the ground at the same time) and suggests (in a bitterly sarcastic manner) that he’s bringing in an era of gaited dressage. There’s also a pretty widespread assumption that he was trained using rollkur.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the German media changes their tune now that he’ll be competing for Germany. :)

    I’m not crazy about his way of going and I really think his scores were inflated sometimes. But, after seeing him up close at WEG, he really seems like a well-treated horse, not one who had been stressed out in training, and I think he and Edward Gal really did have a great bond. So, he’s not my cup o’ tea, but I think a lot of the criticism is over the top.

    I also think that such a Baroque looking horse becoming a rockstar in international dressage is a good thing for sport Morgans.

  19. dressagemorganrider says:

    Leslie answered quite well.

    When Totilas was first performing, he did not have the extremely high motion in front, and his trot was much more balanced. Among the many accusations — and this should be interesting to you all — is that he was being schooled with weighted shoes. Got lots of comments that he “moves like a Park Horse” etc. I personally liked him a lot better 2 or 3 years ago, based solely on videos available on Youtube and some of the European dressage sites. He was also not so jammed up in the neck. I don’t think he’s gaited, just that he has an uneven trot that’s been trained into him to some degree.

    I know a couple of people who have seen him in person and say he has a lot of grace-under-pressure, much credited to Edward Gal. He’s not huge at all, maybe 16.1 hands if he stretches. Gal has one of his full sisters in training now.

    I don’t know if he was trained with rollkur, but it seems to me that rollkur would be counterproductive for baroque horses, as getting them to stretch down and out is one of their biggest problems.

  20. underdog88 says:

    Just read up on him a bit and the comments coming from Germany. I think it’s all just jealousy and rhetoric!
    Leslie makes a good point too- now that he’s been sold and competing for Germany, the comments will probably shift. They’ll adopt him as a national treasure or something!

    I think he’s absolutely gorgeous the way he looks now. He is so talented and athletic and just plain stunning. The way he moves, the way he carries himself, all of it is magnificent. It’s true that not a whole ton of horses can live up to what Totilas can do and how he can look- but I find it obnoxious when people bash horses like this just because he’s frankly better than many!!
    If I had to compete against horses like that I’d probably be like “ughhh there he is…I bet they do this and that to train him….he’s not a “real” dressage horse…he’s gaited..he’s a park horse..he’s too this, he’s too that..that’s not natural..that’s not right” !! But it’s all just jealousy and insecurity!

    Anyway, enough about Totilas haha!

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