In 1791 Justin Morgan, a singing school master in Randolph, walked home from Springfield, Ma. with a bay 2 year old colt taken for payment of a debt owed to him. That colt he called Figure, who became a legend for his ability to outwork, outrun, out-trot, and out-walk any horse in the area. Over the course of his 30 years that he lived in Vermont, countless sons and daughters were produced in his image.
For Justin Morgan's horse, now better known by his master's name, was one of the greatest breeding stallions of all time. He is the only one to establish a breed by himself. The popularity of the Morgan breed spread across this nation. Outstanding horses can be found in every generation that was added to his lineage: Black Hawk, for his symmetry and perfection at the trot, Ethan Allen, a champion trotter of the world, renowned in the Racing Hall of Fame and familiar from Currier and Ives prints, and Green Mountain Morgan, winner of premiums and championships as a blood stallion as far away as Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan. The Morgan horse earned his keep as a general purpose frontier horse, in teams hauling freight or passengers, trotting races, pulling doctor's buggies, delivering mail, drawing carriages of presidents and financiers, and even being cavalry horses.
During the Civil War the 1st Vermont Cavalry was mounted exclusively on Morgans.Out of 1,000 horses only 200 returned home after having served the 75 major conflicts. They won a reputation for being the best cavalry and artillery horse.
From 1907 to 1951 what is now the University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm in Middlebury was
operated by the U.S.D.A. to perpetuate the breed and provide breeding stallions for Remount stations across the country. Some of the most famous endurances horses have been foaled there.
You will find a contribution of Morgan blood in many of the American breeds. This includes the Saddlebred, the Standardbred, the Tennessee Walker and the Quarter horse. Times have changed and so has the uses of the Morgan Horse but they have adapted to every need.