Morgan Horse Preservation-part 1

Morgan horse preservation was the topic in Boston by a Rev. Murray in 1873.

Many people interested in horses were interested to read that Mr. Murray regards the Morgan horse as nearest to perfection of any equine that has ever yet been produced, and is devoting his leisure time and his spare money to the breeding and raising of Morgan colts and fillies, with the view of reaching the point of perfection, and confidently predicts that within ten years (of 1872) a Morgan horse will be raised by somebody that will trot in 2.10. What follows is comments and discussion of interest to horse breeders and fanciers of the Morgan horse.

Now if this popular Orthodox clergyman, as well as Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, can take an interest in raising and breeding fine horses, and not injure their usefulness as Christ's ambassadors, and even are spending considerable time and money in this direction, I think I have good grounds for taking up this subject.

Think it not beneath the dignity of clergymen to love a good horse. Of all the beasts of the field which God has created for the use of man, none has been so often noticed and admired by the historian, none occupied so much the thoughts of the philosopher, or figured so largely in the annals of poetry and romance, as the horse.

Horses of Noble Descent

If I might be indulged a few minutes longer in making “a plea" for respect for the horse, I would say, in the early periods of the world, he was looked upon as possessing (if I may use the expression.) too much dignity of character to be used as a common beast of burden. The horse was then seldom used except by kings and warriors, either mounted or harnessed to chariots.

We find in the days of Josiah, King of Judah, when he ascended the throne, the horse was almost deified. It is related by the sacred historian that at that day horses were kept for a religious use in a room situated on the porch of the lord's house.

These horses were consecrated to the sun, and were led forth in pomp every morning to meet the rising king of day. This luminary was worshiped over all the east, and was represented as riding in a magnificent chariot drawn by the most beautiful and fleetest horses, and performing every day the same journey from the east to the west, to enlighten the earth. In Persia horses were sacrificed to the sun.

In the early periods of the world the horse was an aristocratic animal, and I do not doubt but a few drops of this kind of blood (especially in the Morgan,) may be found coursing in his veins in our day; for we occasionally meet one of the species who feels that he is monarch of all he surveys, and seems to have a mind of his own.

You jog his memory and intimate to him that he is your humble servant and must do your bidding, and perchance he will throw around his head and look you square in the face, and deny the fact with all the coolness of a philosopher, and seem to say, "I will go when I am ready, so help yourself."

Now you would probably call him a balky horse, but I think his actions may be accounted for on philosophical principles. He had the misfortune to be born into the world, or the good fortune, with a few drops too many of the aristocratic blood of his ancestors, that's all.

Horses were not brought into extensive use until the days of Solomon, on the consummation of his marriage with Pharaoh's daughter, when they imported them from Egypt. So rapidly did he multiply them by purchase, and by breeding, that those kept for his use required four thousand stables and forty thousand stalls.

Had this gallant monarch lived and flourished in our day, we fear he would have been called an outrageous horse jockey, and would have eclipsed Murray, Beecher and Bonner, in his great love for that noble animal. You see, then, the horse is no ordinary subject for consideration.

Vermont Horse Stock Company

A word on a different breed of horses imported into our State by the Vermont Horse Stock Company. In what I shall say of the merits of the Morgan horse, I do not wish to be understood as casting any reflection upon the efforts of those gentlemen who are endeavoring to raise horses of larger size and greater speed. Having leisure and money, they are enabled to give the experiment a fair trial, and if they succeed, and actually breed a race of horses superior to the Morgans, we will give them due credit for so doing.

We will not be envious, but will rejoice with them in conferring lasting benefits upon the good people of this State, but, fellow citizens, while they are trying this experiment, and it will take many long years to give it a fair trial, as it did with the Morgan breed, let us turn our attention to that distinguished race of horses that has made Vermont so famous and noted, and inquire, is it wise to let them become extinct? In this discussion I shall take the negative of the question, and proceed to give my reasons for this position.

The Morgan breed should be preserved

This question commends itself to the consideration of everyone who loves that noble breed of horses, as in my opinion the Morgan horse stands at the head of his species, not only in Vermont, but in America. Not only in America but throughout the world. I know this is a broad statement, but I feel able to substantiate it by ocular demonstration.

I have been surprised that the friends of the Morgan horse should, by common consent almost, seem willing to let them die out, become extinct; the reason why, no man can tell, or give a reason; for when you question them upon the merits of this stock, that has had a worldwide reputation, you will find them ready to defend their peculiar characteristics with a commendable zeal. They will tell you that they never expect to find so perfect a race of horse for all kinds of business, as the Morgan breed.

Then why, in all conscience, are they willing to see them degenerate into scrubs, with no desire to have them remain in their purity, the proud champions in many contests, not only on the race track, but in the
amphitheater or state exhibition?

Men have never acted so blindly, so foolishly I might say, with any other kind of stock as they have with the Morgan horse. It would seem that they belonged to that class mentioned by Ezekiel, "who have eyes to see but see not, they have ears to hear and hear not."

For a number of years I took delight in studying the beautiful traits of the Morgan horses, and for strength, docility, activity and speed, I have thought and said on many occasions that they could not be excelled. A glance at their distinguishing characteristics will be given in the proper place in this address.

Morgan horses contributed to the wealth of Vermont

To say that the Morgan horse has contributed greatly to the wealth of Vermont since 1795, when it is claimed the first or original Justin Morgan was brought to Randolph, is saying no more than what is true. Wealth untold has rolled into the coffers of the good people of this state from this source.

Vermont became so Morgan-ized that no other breed of horses was known, to any extent, among us. But now it is seriously feared that this race will become extinct, unless the people's attention is called to it, and strong, energetic measures be taken to preserve them as pure as possible.

Black Hawk and Green Mountain Morgan

This question should be discussed on all proper occasions, for I am fearful that under the plea of breeding larger and finer horses, which some seem to think would be beneficial to our state, the Morgan breed may be ruled out, and their superior qualities be overlooked and forgotten.

I can never forget, nor will many of you forget the splendid show our Vermont Morgan horses made at one of our magnificent fairs held at Rutland years ago, when Black Hawk, crowned with wreaths of flowers by the fair hands of women, led almost a multitude of children around the amphitheater.

So also did the Morgan horse, Green Mountain, and his progeny, both showing excellent traits of the Morgan breed, and both having thousands of admirers, making the welkin ring with glad shouts. We then thought that no other race could vie with them for elegance, speed, endurance and activity. I have seen nothing to change my opinion of them since that day, and it is my firm belief that they never can be equaled.

Prince of Wales and Morgan horses at St Louis

I have said the Morgans have a worldwide reputation. This is apparent from facts that cannot be disputed. Wherever the horse is appreciated as the noblest animal of the brute creation, there you will find admirers of this distinct race.

When the Prince of Wales and his retinue of Dukes and Counts visited this country a few years ago, they attended a magnificent fair at St. Louis, and witnessing a trial of speed in the amphitheater in which none but Morgan horses were entered as trotters, it so charmed them that they clapped their hands and cried "Bravo, Bravo", never having seen such a sight, not even in their own country, where running is the popular test, as trotting is in this land. I was an eyewitness of the delight manifested by these gentlemen, and it led me then to prize the Morgan breed of horses more highly than ever.

Napoleon and Morgan horses

A lady from Vermont informed me that she was in Paris when Napoleon received a splendid pair of Morgan horses, purchased in Vermont for him, and when the driver reined them up to his mansion.
Napoleon, standing in his portal, raised his hat from his head, a condescension he would hardly show for millions of his subjects.

We all know how those Morgan horses appeared - how they came up to the mansion, head and tail erect, "like steers in the corn," as our friend Uncle David Hill used to say.

Continue to part 2 of this article