An Example of a Western Working Lippitt Morgan

Edgewood Hallmark; Stallion; Bay; Foaled 06-02-1978; Sired by Moro Hill's Bandit and out of Ransomvale Sue Moro. Bred by Robert & Jacqueline Schaumberg. Sold to Jerome & Margaret Cole 10-27-1979. Registered progeny produced-28 Morgans of which 14 were Lippitts. This Lippitt Morgan stallion was known to have "nervous energy."

Photo courtesy of Barb Fogel; restoration of photo by Deborah Siegrist.

Jerry Cole had bought a colt sight unseen from a woman, and had taken the breeder's word that the colt was sire material. He returned that colt because its legs were not something that Jerry wanted to introduce into his herd. He then called Chester Treftc who advised him to take a look at the Schaumberg's Morgans. Jerry called Bob and asked him to send leg pictures of the colt, Edgewood Hallmark. When Jacquie went to pick up the pictures at the store the saleslady exclaimed that something must have gone wrong in processing the pictures because the colt's head and body were cut out of all the pictures. Jacquie responded: " No, that is what was requested from us for this sale to possibly take place."
Jerry Cole always looked at the legs and feet first. If he didn't like what he saw he would look no further at the rest of the horse, not the head, croup nor the body unless the legs and feet were perfect.

Edgewood Hallmark was not big, maybe close to or a tad under 14.2 H. Jerry complained about Hallmark's height to Chester Treftc. Treftc then asked Jerry what the colt could not do and Jerry replied that Hallmark does everything. Chester Treftc then pointedly asked him what he was complaining about.

When Jerry wanted to work cattle he would always take Hallmark. The cowboys would ride their horses all morning and change them out for fresh horses at noon. Jerry would ride all day using Hallmark and in the evening Hallmark would breed mares. Not all the mares were Morgans horses. The cowboys would bring two or three horses for round-up, branding and so forth. It was clear that Hallmark had stamina to be able to do cattle all day. Whenever there was a rank bull Jerry would choose Hallmark to bring the bull in.

Many times Jerry was called by other ranch owners to bring his stud horse over as they had a rank bull that needed to be dealt with. Hallmark had natural "cow sense" and this had been bred into him via Ransomvale Sue Moro.

Nervous Energy

Edgewood Hallmark had what was termed "nervous energy," so what exactly is "nervous energy?"

In a 1910 New England Farmer article entitled: "The True Morgan" is the following statement.

"To the majority would be news that a Morgan is a small, compact, very up-headed and nervy horse, square gaited, with no claim to modern track speed,....."

Nervous energy can be also called "nerve force" and this was very common in the description of the Old Morgan. The high JM1 blood percentage went hand in hand with nervous energy and both should be coveted when breeding for the true Morgan. The prance and eagle like expression is what attracted people to this horse.

From Agricultural Miscellany: The Breed of Morgan Horses 1844-1900:

"They appear too low on their legs when standing, (some refer to this as being "duck legged"- DJS) but when put in motion they expand into grand proportions, rise to magnificence on account of the fire of their ambitious, bold, fearless action, and graceful, nervous, gathering movement. Their size is absolutely lost sight of in their majesty of deportment and beautiful form.
The Woodbury Morgan, for highly finished form, or approved equestrian style of graceful movement for the parade of review, surpassed all the colts ever descended from the Justin Morgan. His stock are pre-eminent to this day for the highest development of muscular activity, proud and lofty bearing, that carry captive all their beholders. Their singular combination of style and action ensures for them a ready sale at renumerating prices."

From John Burnet, Jan.1848; Cultivator:

" But I really think I have never seen a Morgan horse that I considered either graceful or a stately mover; I have seen many that were full of show and action, pompous little creatures, almost bursting with zeal and animation, but with such broad breasts and bantam figures, as to give their gait too much the appearance of a strut or waddle, reminding me somewhat of the little coxcomb, who, as he parades the street, swings his arms and stretches back his head, and impudently looks every person in the face, as if to say- ' You must not presume to think me small.' "

"...but I think the endurance of the Morgan horse (sometimes overrated I suspect) is attributable more to his great vital energy and muscular development, than to his easy paces.
Again, symmetry of form is claimed as a prominent excellency of the Morgan horses, but I must except to this opinion also. I think their legs are too short for their length of neck and bulk of body. They are generally too wide forward and too close behind, so that many of them paddle with their fore feet, and at the same time unless carefully shod, interfere with their hind ones. Some of them also incline too much to hollow back.

Burlington Free Press; Feb. 16, 1893

On Woodbury: "My father who was an officer on training days, told me of riding Old Burbank at the muster; a horse which under saddle never walked a step, but would dance sideways, feet to the right, then by a slight motion of the rein, swing to the left, then facing the troops dance backward, keeping perfect step to the music." Dr. Fisk

A description by Allen Thomson from his own observation at the great fair of 1852:

" Both sides called the Black Hawks, Morgans. Yet there was as plain a difference in looks, shape, size, color, and travel of the two breeds of horses as there is between the small Arab and the large English racer. The Black Hawks were more rangy built than the Morgans, average much larger, as many of them were 16 hands high, and weighed over 1,000 pounds. They averaged much faster than the Morgans. They were genteel, handsome, showy carriage horses and very nice drivers."

Jonathan Brewer Farnsworth was told by a relative who was also an observer of the 1852 fair that 'when the band began to play the Morgans began to dance and their line became anything but straight. The Black Hawks on the other hand kept their line with great dignity. On account of their greater activity he preferred the Morgans over the Black Hawks.

From the VT Watchman and St. Journal, June 26, 1857:

When the Morgan frisks his pithy tail,
And liftd his lordly head,
The Black Hawks all turn pale
And wish themselves twice dead.

Barr, June 20, 1857

Various Quotes and Quips on Nervous Energy and the Early Morgan Horses: (hat tip to Lyle F. Horton Memorial Ancient Memorial Archive )

Justin Morgan was considered the favorite in his own time at June training or the parade ground. Quoting from an old National Stockman the writer speaks of Justin and the ancients. "From this horse has sprung a family as marked and distinct, that those who once learn their peculiar features know them, wherever they may be seen. Unlike their progenitor in color and marks, as they are often found, yet they all possess his peculiar build, his fiery, nervous organism, pluck, game and courage, combines with his gentle and tractable disposition when properly managed."

"The shrewd, sharp-sighted, long-headed people of Vermont were not long in finding out that the small, gentle, short, quick- stepping, sure-footed Morgans were just the horses to get over their bad roads, hills and mountains, where large, long-gaited horses would have failed; and thus it was that Vermont enjoyed for a long time the reputation of producing the finest road horses in the country---and they were Morgans. They were celebrated as saddle horses, and at the trainings and musters they took the palm. Their proud and lofty bearing, style and action caused them to be the principal attraction of the day. So great was the reputation of Justin Morgan as being the most showy of saddle horses, that he was sent for from Montreal to Boston to be the saddle horse of the commanding officer at the training and muster.
The reputaion of his son, Woodbury Morgan was equal to that of his sire."
A. Fullerton Phillips speaks often in his manuscript of the "wonderful exuberance of spirits" and "when head held erect a plumb line dropped from his throatlatch should strike his toe." This exuberance transmits a prompt attitude, a quickness of movement, and can be seen in the expression.

Allen Thomson, an observer of the great show of Morgans in 1852 at Rutland further states: "It was a great and grand sight to see them going round the track with heads and tails erect, eyes flashing fire, nostrils emitting as if it were smoke, nerves and muscles stretched to the utmost; some stepping daintily, as though the ground was not good enough for them to step on; others with so powerful a tread that it seemed to make the very ground quake." James Ladd said it about Green Mountain: "It was his consumate get-up, his manner of action."

A letter from Mr. Backman in the Dec. 1892 "Horseman" says; "When I was a young man I was almost constantly on the road in New England, especially in Vermont and New Hampshire, collecting money for the firm with which I was engaged. I drove and saw hundreds of the best Morgan horses and became familiar with their striking points. They were, as a rule, high-headed and short-gaited horses."

Excerpt from American Cultivar article, circa 1890:
"It was the immense amount of nerve force which he possessed, rather than his conformation that enabled the original Justin Morgan, founder of the Morgan family, to out-pull, out-walk, out-trot, and out-run any horse in the section where he was kept."

F. G. Chandler writes:
"The old horses my father raised were the short legged, round-backed, blocky horses measuring about 14.2 hands high and weighing about 950 pounds; possessing great style and with heads held erect, arched necks, great nerve, fine action and much endurance..."

From The Horse by Hibbard, 12-29-1900, MA Ploughman on Billy Root:

"But I could never lead him, for he always led me."

"I used to take him out in the field and exercise him by the bridle, but he generally exercised me more than I did him, for he was so full of life and energy, and had so much endurance, that he always tired me out, except when I was riding or driving him, then I never saw him show a sign of having had enough."


All of the descriptive language used to describe the ancient Morgan in the historical newspapers, magazines and books excite the imagination of those interested in understanding and wanting to reproduce all that Justin Morgan and his famous sons were. The ancient Morgans were powerful, short legged, square gaited, blocky horses. They were compactly built with a high head set and exhibited those qualities that were peculiar to the breed. Nerve force/ nervous energy/ great nerve/ nervous action and a fearless style and animation all are part of the high percentage Morgan.