Shine - contact AMHA - they've been great working with our rescue to get a large herd DNA identified and registered. It's more of a hassle, but if you know his breeder and have it narrowed down to a small list of potential mares and stallions, they may be able to help.
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
~ Maya Angelou
Since we are talking about Morgans, here is one little story that some of you might find amusing - or not, depending on your mood or whether you were the victim of these Morgans
Quite a few years ago I was leasing my very first horse, a red headed "big" Morgan gelding. Now he was "big" in our standard, being a huge 15.3 hand hehehe. He used to be a hot saddle seat horse but had retired from show rings and become a full time lesson horse for more advanced students. At that time, he was put in a pasture about five minutes away during the weekends so I would go to the pasture, saddle and bridle him, and ride him back to the barn.
This was a Sunday afternoon. As usual, I went in the pasture, found him, he came, and I tried to bridle him. Well, don't you know, some kids had put a pony bridle on his rack at the barn and being absent minded that day I didn't check before I grabbed it and that was what I had that day.
I fumbled with the way too small bridle a bit, all flustered - he said, "you know what, I don't like this bridle. How about let's do something more interesting - how about let's play tab?" He trotted away. I followed; he trotted away; I followed; he trotted away, again, always keeping just outside of arm's reach. I got frustrated, yelled, "hey, get your little a$$ here!" Well, I shouldn't have done that, because, damn, he got so excited. Now tail up, ears up, he passaged away with my saddle, and I was left with a halter and lead rope, a too small bridle in my hand, with no one around to help me catch the evil monster.
So, I paused, took a deep breath, trying to formulate a strategy to outsmart him, - we humans ARE smarter than a horse, right? When I raised my head to see where the evil horse was, guess what I found? That bugger was hiding behind a run-in shed, with his head and ears poking out from behind, laughter in his eyes, checking me out. I don't know how anyone should feel, but it was hard not to get irritably amused at this point so I simply stood there, arms crossed, trying to suppress a grin. We eyed each other a bit. He was so darn smug. I shook my head, "Amore, come here," I called again. "You call?" He asked. He swaggered out from behind the run-in shed, and passaged to me, "That was fun, huh?" he said in his eyes. I decided to ditch the whole bridle idea and show him the halter; he put his nose in it; and I rode him back to the barn with the halter and lead rope.
I'll ask, but it's nothing to write home about, I assure you.
Meh, I treat all of 'em as individuals and that's the real joy for me in working with horses. I just love figuring them out.
This horse can roll with the way I tend to teach them. I'm like a Soviet gymnastics coach. I'll give Horseling all the love in the whole world, but by God, the horse WILL live up to performance expectations. What makes it work is that I'll bust a$$ to figure out how to get the horse to do stuff reliably and in a relaxed way-- to really understand his job.
If I "narrate" a conversation I'm having with a horse for a spectator, those people usually roll their eyes and say "You think too much." I have never found a horse to hold that same opinion. As you say, they like the specificity and the careful attention I'm paying to their side of the conversation.
You guys have given me some great ideas about keeping the variety in this horse's work. Being smart and self-preserving, he's probably the type that will rise to the occasion if I say "Yeah, well kinda broke is good enough. Now we are going outside the arena to do the same thing in the big world." When it stops raining here for a minute, I'll do that and let you guys know what he says.
All the Morgans I've ever met have been potty trained in their stalls too: one pile of manure and one spot for pee.
I will caution one thing about Morgans: they are so smart they are good at faking it and it can be easy to push them too fast. I encourage variety of training rather than progressing quickly. Find simple ways I make things more interesting without being more demanding or stressful, like creating obstacles with poles and switching things up with ground driving. There is a reason many Morgans are cross trained and are very successful in multiple disciplines. I believe cross training is a necessary thing if you don't want your Morgan to become bored and rude. Drilling does not work and CTJ sessions, while effective, should be used sparingly. Morgans can tell when their handler is a weak personality and it can lead to either making them nervous or mischievous.
Good luck with this little guy! Morgans are fabulous and I'm a huge fan of the breed.
It's funny, but I feel like all of the things that are being said about Morgans here also apply to my TB by Devil His Due. Smart, smart, smart.
He sounds a LOT like the Morgan you are working with, MVP. Except that he is 7 coming 8 and has had a lot of training. He knows his job. He knows how to be a solid citizen. Yet, we still have a lot of "moments," and they don't relate to freshness or fear. They are usually some kind of challenge/opinion thing. He has a lot of opinions, about all manner of things. This morning, I found him in a snit when I went to swap out his blankets because someone had cross tied a horse in the cross ties in front of his stall.
I used to think that someday, he would "get it" permanently, and that we would not have to have so many discussions about what is and is not allowed ("Actually, as it turns out...no you STILL are not permitted to rear and strike on the way in from turnout if no one comes to get you fast enough...same as last month...same as last year...and the year before..."). 9 times out of 10, and 10 times out of 10 many months at a stretch, he will do exactly what you want, every time. But then, one day, he will decide that's the day he is going to ask a LOT of questions about whether or not perhaps he could be in charge forever.
So, I just know that I'm going to have to address his challenges and have some CTJ meetings from time to time. With him, there really isn't ever a final CTJ. It's an ongoing effort. The challenges don't happen as often now, but they still happen. He is led with a chain ALWAYS. People often question me about that and opine that he is such a good boy that they can't understand it. And then, one day, that person ends up leading him on a "Do-You-Accept-My-Challenge-Or-Will-You-Accept-Me-As-Your-Ruler?" days and they understand.
It's funny, but I feel like all of the things that are being said about Morgans here also apply to my TB by Devil His Due. Smart, smart, smart.
I think plenty of TBs (and horse in general) are smarter than we give them credit for. Few horses go into Profound Brain Fart From Which There Is No Recovery/Might as well put them up for the day.
The key is to find *that thing* that puts on enough pressure that they have to think, but not so much that they can't. IME, if you do this with a horse over and over-- and are prompt with praise-- you can teach a horse to always try thinking/looking for the right answer first.
In short, give a horse a hard but non-overwhelming calculus problem when he gets silly, and you'll get him well trained. And "well-trained" doesn't just mean that he knows some stuff. It means that he knows how to learn new stuff, too.
It's been so wonderful to hear about all your wonderful, goofy, funny and amazing Morgans. I fell in love with them long before I ever had my first horse. I saw one that was a police horse. I stopped to pet him and talk to the officer. I think I was 18 at the time. Many years later I got my first Morgan and have never looked back. That was almost 35 years ago.
Love love love my Morgan. He is smart as a whip but if he doesn't want to do something boy he will let you know in a hurry. Is worried about his own tailed to much and has self-preservation for sure. To the point that he wants to jump in your pocket to protect him from the monster in the bushes he just made up. Lol. He's a big lover and loves attention! But he's not a pushy horse. He is the smartest of the 4 I have now and probably the smartest I've ever been around. He remembers everything but his stubborn streak could sometimes be a pain. Also the treat thing, he loves loves loves them. But I have also found like someone said before if you put a treat with something they will repeat over and over. I taught mine to bow when i retired him. Oh my big mistake. Of course i did it with treats so for a year every time i went around him he'd bow lol. Silly boy. It took another year of him not getting treats when he did it to finally give up. Lol. He's the sweetest horse I have and the one i trust the most at doing anything to.
Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole
I think everyone who has owned or loved a Morgan is getting a chuckle out of this thread!
I will add that many are huge suck-ups. Especially if food might result!
I moved my Morgan a year and a half ago to his retirement home. The owners were immediately taken by his personality - how he would follow them around to investigate whatever they were doing, how he was always into everything, how he knew me and immediately came to me in the field, and how quickly he came to know them.(Of course it helps that he seems to be past the jump in the trough, steal the tank heater, pretend to be herd stallion stage - at last) He is now the husbands favorite and the wife loves that he seeks her company and appreciates nose kisses.
Should I keel over tomorrow, I think I dont need to worry about his future. He seems to have secured that himself
My Morgan spent the first six years of his life tied to a rope that was attached to a hay wagon out in the middle of a field. A stallion, no less, with no handling, feet like elf shoes. I was a VERY green rider/horse owner, but could not let the poor guy stay at that horrid place any longer, so I bought him. Gelded him, and was riding our first hunter pace 7 months later. Pilgrim has a great mind, work ethic second almost to none(TB still dominate imho) and a real sense of humour! My guy is bossy in the herd, but due to his lack of upbringing and never being taught proper herd manners, due to being attached to that nasty rope once he was weaned from his Dam, I don't hold it against him in the least.
I guess if I had to sum up the Morgan, based on my own personal experience, I would say ADAPTABILITY!
"My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”
― Anna Sewell
I'm new to the COTH forums, but I have been lurking and reading for a while. I don't have a horse yet and am a complete novice. I have my heart set on a Morgan. Reading this thread has made me love them even more, but I'm also a little intimidated, being a novice. I think I have a mind like a Morgan (though I'm not sure I am as smart) in that I get bored easily with repetition and need to know that I'm doing what is wanted. I'm also a complete whore for praise! LOL! And food. Heh. I guess this is my question...is it a bad idea for a novice to get a Morgan? Especially someone who has the same quirks?
Here's a video I just adore because you can see the horse trying to figure out what the hell the crazy people want him to do (and wondering why they are spazzing instead of giving him treats). I want this horse so bad...but I'm too poor to get any horse just yet. Anyway, here's Jesse:
Many Morgans are Newbie Friendly! But there is huge variation, so check out each individual. What makes the Morgans useable i that they most often WANT to work with you. They are often overeager students, but not as likely to use their smarts against you.
Yes, you should keep in mind that Morgans likely need variety more than most. Most never turn into that automatic-barely-alive type that can be accompished with many stock horses. If you want super quiet, no opinion, standing like a rock, a Morgan probably isnt your best bet. But if you want a fun horse willing to try new things that will try its heart out for you if you are willing to negotiate a bit, then they cant be beat!
Thanks for your reply, mvp. I am doomed on #1 but I think I've lived long enough on this earth (50 years come May) to have learned to be secure and generous. At least the generous part. When I'm finally ready financially to get a horse, I will be looking for an older (even a 20 year old will be fine) well trained Morgan gelding or mare.
Thanks MsM! I don't want a dead-headed plug horse. I want an essentially calm, non-squirrelly being - but I imagine I'd spend as much time throwing a jolly ball around and just brushing and petting as much as I would riding. I just want a horse because I enjoy their horse-ness...if that makes any sense. The playfulness I have heard about in Morgans appeals to me. Anyway, I'm trying to read a lot and learn a lot (and take lessons) before I get a horse - one has to be careful around a being that weighs half a ton; a body can get killed just from too much exuberance on their part if one is not careful. I'm trying to keep that in mind. I've just loved the thought of this breed ever since reading the story of Justin Morgan when I was a girl...
I make my living training mostly Morgans. They are unique, but, IMO, rewarding. They're a smart breed, but they also do not take well to mixed signals. They do very well dealing in black and white and they learn best from positives. If you can get them to experience some small kind of success and then reward them (a pat is generally as good as anything, while working) they will work to figure a way to get back to that spot that got them rewarded. You'll get further teaching them WHAT TO DO with positives than WHAT NOT TO DO with constant corrections. That said, if you get into an argument, YOU need to figure a way out of it because they'll be rather content to continue it all day long They have stamina and a stubborn streak, but most of them have a route around that streak and it's your job to find that route. Your job every day is to make them have some success that is a little closer to your goal and reward them instantly for it.
As for the CTJ, I always say you 'walk softly and carry a big stick' with them. Not necessarily literally, but, you act with kindness and pleasantness, but you always have lines that are not to be crossed. Those lines are always the same, no matter your mood. When they are crossed, you correct them quickly, efficiently, and with no possible misunderstanding, and then you move on and drop it. Go back to treating them like good citizens and they'll go back to being good citizens. They do not like being in trouble, for the most part. If you carry a grudge they think they're still in trouble and it makes them tense.
As for the treats, we give them a small grain treat immediately after they work every day. Even if it was a rough day, particularly if it was a rough day and yet we found a way to end it well. They need to know that in the end, you're their friend and you still like them. Then, on that occasional day that they go out of their way to not cooperate, you withhold the treat. They get it! Those days are few and far between around here. Most horses won't miss but a few treats in their lives. not to say every day is great, but, if they made some effort to get it, or tried to figure it out, or got better in some way, they earned the treat. Even if the day wasn't great, they still get it. They still worked and they still need to know that you can have a not great day and still be friends at the end. How you end today will be how you start tomorrow. The days we withhold a treat have to be fair-and-square days that they made nothing but an effort to be contrary. You'll find that if you are fair with Morgans...punish them fairly or withhold treats when they really don't deserve them, they get it...they kind of agree. BUT...if you punish (particularly!)them or withhold treats unfairly, you'll make them angry.
Mostly, they're a sensitive breed. If you're wound up, tense, in a bad mood, and you can't change it before you pick up the reins, then you're better served to have it be a turn out or play day. It won't go well. They aren't a breed you work when your temper is short.
Several have said they're like Border Collies for the same reason I've always said they're like Labradors. They're people pleasers by nature. But, they're energetic and you better channel it or they will and the uses they come up with for it are never what you hope for! They need a job, several for many. Most of ours ride and drive no matter how they show. They thrive on a system of consistent work but mixing up the tasks. If you get in a rut, change the subject. Before the rut becomes a habit. They're personable, smart, and fun. enjoy
If you can get them to experience some small kind of success and then reward them (a pat is generally as good as anything, while working) they will work to figure a way to get back to that spot that got them rewarded. You'll get further teaching them WHAT TO DO with positives than WHAT NOT TO DO with constant corrections.
Their minds were actually ahead of their times as it appears they were programed in ladder logic format that if it sees a fault it reverts to a known place to start over
Ladder logic is primarily used to develop software for programmable logic controllers (PLCs) used in industrial control applications just the kind of work the Morgans do well.
As for the dog comparison I see them more of Golden Retrievers and German Shepherd Dog as they are very friendly yet very protective of the charges