Out & About visits the University of Vermont's Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge, VT charged with preserving and strengthening the Morgan Horse, one of the first horse breeds developed in the United States and the official state animal of Vermont.
The university takes on apprentice-interns who help to maintain and improve a herd of about 50 horses. UVM continues groundwork laid by Colonel Joseph Battell who set up a barn in 1878 to begin to preserve the horse’s bloodlines. That historic barn is still the centerpiece for the operation.
The breed began with a single colt named Figure. In 1789, a Vermont teacher named Justin Morgan took him in payment for a debt. Figure apparently possessed incredible strength and speed. As was the practice at that time, the horse became known by his owner's name.
Solid, strong animals, Morgans were known to be calm under fire and became the favored mounts of many Civil War regiments. The federal government appreciated their value and took over the operation from Battell from 1907 until 1951, when the university stepped in.
Even Hollywood has been inspired by the story of the Morgan Horse.In 1972 Walt Disney made a movie called Justin Morgan Had a Horse starring Don Murray as Justin Morgan.