Catch up with cowboys riding buckin’ broncs when we head West (West Central Vermont, that is) for a day in the saddle and a night at New England’s only weekly rodeo when we visit the O’Rourke family’s 2,000-acre working ranch - Pond Hill, just west of the Green Mountain National Forest, near Castleton, 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.
Host Marianne Eaton visits Kedron Valley Stables in South Woodstock for a horseback riding lesson and then joins members of the GMHA for their annual fall foliage ride. Then, we learn about The Junior Waterfowl Hunter Training Program, developed to pass on the traditions of waterfowl hunting to young people. Lastly, Host Lawrence Pyne joins the Farnham family of South Hero in their unique "rock blind" on the shores of Lake Champlain for an afternoon of duck hunting.