Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saddlebreds, Traveller, Morgan Horses, Horse Breeds & More

I have nothing against Saddlebreds. Okay, maybe. It's just... they look a little ridiculous:

To me, this horse looks like a startled deer, or maybe a frightened Thoroughbred foal, not a show horse. Yet, apparently, this is the type Saddlebred fanciers strive for!

One of these things is not quite like the others.

However, I can't laugh too hard-- one of my favorite horse heroes, Traveller (spelled with a double "l" in the British style) who carried General Lee throughout the Civil War, was apparently a Saddlebred:

RIP Traveller -- died 1871 of Tetanus

He looks more like a Quarter Horse to me. Which brings up an interesting question-- when is a breed no longer really a cohesive breed? The best example I can think of is the Morgan horse breed. One of my first horses, Jess, was supposed to be a Morgan mare:

She had a stunningly fast trot, a neck that could pull a school bus, and a large-ish rump. She was described to me once as an "Amish-style Morgan" or as an "old type" Morgan. When you go back to the original Morgans, the picture pretty much remains the same:

...but if you look at modern Morgan horses, you see something that looks like an Arabian: which one is "correct?" Breeds do change to reflect the needs of their producers-- but it seems to me that our "needs" these days rarely include the Morgan horse's original purpose: a carriage/plow/wagon puller. So the breed changed into a fancier show horse. Is it still a Morgan?!


  1. You could say exactly the same about many dog breeds, too. For example, when I compare today's version of the German Shepherd to those from even 30 years ago... wowsers. We stoopid humans have MADE them into facsimilies of their former, bred-to-work selves. And yeah, in the horse world it's really noticeable in Arabs, Morgans and QHs. The latter have evolved into so many different "looks" (i.e. halter, racing, cutting, hunt seat) that I think there's really about three or four breeds lumped together under the AQHA heading. Rather nuts!

    1. Here's a great picture comparison of dog breeds 100 years ago and dog breeds today:

  2. You mare, Jess, looks like a Canadian.
    When you go back to the original Morgans you will find a lot of Canadian blood there, hence the similarities.
    You are right about certain breeds changing; the modern Morgans that I have encountered look more like Saddlebred wannabes.