Morgan Horses: the horse that built America
Janet Kennedy Yager -- Since early childhood I have had a love for horses, Morgan Horses in particular. After graduating from college, I thought I would like to live in Vermont for a couple years -- the place where Morgans originated. I never left. After a year as an apprentice at the UVM Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge, VT -- where I received an outstanding introduction to the world of horsemanship -- I began to give lessons and train horses on my own. Over the years I have had the privilege of working with numerous trainers and many equestrian disciplines.
With my husband Tom Yager, we own Absolute Morgans (www.absolutemorgans.com), a small family farm that breeds, trains, and shows Morgan horses as well as producing hay and Christmas trees. Our breeding program is dedicated to breeding Morgans of classical type and beauty that can excel in numerous competitive venues.
As experienced amateurs, we raise our foals in a disciplined yet loving environment. We seek outside professional training at critical stages of their lives, allowing us to produce competitive performance horses. With only a few horses born on the farm each year, we are able to provide the personal attention that develops outstanding Morgan dispositions and willing attitudes. We share the day-to-day operations of the farm -- I guide the breeding and training aspects of the farm while Tom takes primary responsibility for farm management.
My day job -- I am the Executive Director of Lakes to Locks Passage.
Be sure to check out the Passage Minute: Ethan Allen, the Morgan Horse
Contact me if you would like to learn more about Morgan Horses. I like to refer to Morgans as the"Golden Retriever of the horse world." Their willing attitude and loving disposition makes them a horse that many breeders treasure -- they often say that they "place" their horses with new owners, not sell them.
Our farm, Absolute Morgans (www.absolutemorgans.com) is open to visitors by appointment. We are located just a few miles from the UVM Morgan Horse Farm and the National Museum of the Morgan Horse in Middlebury, VT. I am willing to not only suggest other farms to visit but can let you know about Morgan events and activities -- as well as help you select where to stay and my favorite places to eat.
What is Distinctive or Authentic to the Character of the Region?
The early days of the Morgan Horse have been illustrated through the book and movie classic Justin Morgan Had a Horse. Figure, born near Springfield MA, but taken as a young colt to Randolph, VT by his breeder Justin Morgan, became known as the Justin Morgan horse -- the original “sport utility vehicle.” He was not only an all-purpose farm work horse, he also hauled freight, won many match races and “pulling bees,” and even served as the parade mount for President James Monroe.
His beauty, stamina and willingness to please made him quite popular as a breeding stallion and earned respect from horsemen for his prepotency -- the ability to reproduce his qualities in his offspring. By the 1830’s Morgan horses, America’s first breed of horse, were being bred throughout the Champlain Valley to serve as general purpose farm horses, clearing rocky hillsides, plowing fields, pulling the family wagon to church in style, and even winning local match races. But it was their ground-covering trot that drew crowds to America's early harness racing tracks, which sprung up throughout the Town of Ticonderoga and at county fairgrounds across America.
A noted great-grandson of Figure, known as Ethan Allen, was bred by Joel Holcomb, a hotel owner in Ticonderoga, NY. Ethan Allen was first raced in 1852 at the Clinton County Fair and by the age of four was claimed to be the fastest trotting stallion in the world. His fame as a trotting “sensation” was followed by readers throughout the country, as he was considered “invincible on turf.” And he did it for a long time -- even at18 years of age, he set a record in a match race, considered the “crowning event of his life.” Ethan Allen’s beauty, docility, elegance and ease of action made him a favorite story for newspaper reporters, who described his trot “as having style and perfection of motion,” which was passed on to his numerous offspring.
The popularity of Ethan Allen is still seen today, as he was often the horse depicted in the Currier and Ives prints; and whenever you see a weathervane with a long-strided trotting horse, shown with an upright neck and headset, it was most likely modeled after the American icon, Ethan Allen.