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Morabs Developed For Modern Breeders

by Pat Fochs

Cradled in the heart of “Blue Grass Country” is the Purebred Morab Horse Association, Inc. It was created to merge the benefits combining the genetics of the Morgan and Arabian breeds. Today the “Morab” stands as a symbol of beauty, endurance, and docility.

So many accounts have been offered as to the origin of the Morgan. Whether Dutch or Arabian, it is known that the breed descended from a beautiful bay stallion from Vermont named “Figure” or “Justin Morgan”. He was owned by Justin Morgan Sr. and later became known as the Morgan horse. Though small, he was a “fleet runner of short distances.”

Justin Morgan had several prominent sons: Sherman, Woodbury Bulrush and Revenge (his offspring were bay and chestnut). They were all known for their trot.  Two other sons traced by D.C. Linsley were: The Hawkins Horse and the Fenton Horse. The Hawkins horse was black and was the “fastest” of the Justin Morgan sons. The Fenton Horse, bright blood-bay with black points, has no known offspring.

Some believe Sherman’s dam was a Spanish barb mare. This line produced Ethan Allen and some beautiful racing and strong trotter stock. Line bred characteristics include: general chestnut coloring with white star or strip on the face, and it is common to see white on the hind legs.

Woodbury was a “compact horse with broad chest”. He always seemed to be in motion. Descendents from this line may have produce chestnut or bay and possess a white star or stripe on the face with white on one or both hind legs.

Bulrush had a fast trot and “remarkable endurance.” His line tends to produce deep bay, and browns with black points.

These horses were all born about 1800 and stood 14-14.3 hands tall. They added the fiery step, willing heart, and winning disposition that would forever imprint the word “beautiful” on the minds of horsemen and women.

The Arabian breed was bred at the same time and before. They are well known for their beauty. This is reflected in many artistic efforts to capture the fire and personality of the breed. But there is more to the Arabian horse than the sands of the Middle East and romantic tales of the horses sharing the family lodging in desert terrain. Indeed, according to Professor Osborn, the Arabian horse dates back to a period between 1600 and 2000 BC. It is noted that many of the drawings on cave walls appear to reflect the beautiful body of the horse we identify as the Arabian of today.

During the early 1700s, three Arabian horses became famous: The Byerly Turk, the Darley Arabian, and the Godolphin Arabian. These horses are believed to produce the blood of many thoroughbred horses. In Arabic, these Arabians are known as “Kehailan.” According to an 1863 observation by Emir Abd-el-Kader, the most sought after horse was black with a star and white “spots on its feet.” Next is the blood bay and then the dark chestnut.

The horses of the Abbas Pasha Stud are known through European countries. A strong focus of Arabian breeding occurred with the establishment of the Crabbet stock in England by Wilfrid Blunt in the late 1890s. She purchased mares from the desert and some were purchased from the Stud of Ali Pasha Sherif in Egypt . Crabbet breeding has been used frequently in the United States.

The Bedouin system of breeding has three principles, according to an article (The Arabian by Wilfred Scawen Blunt) published in Encyclopaedia of Sport, 1900.

These principles were:

  • 1st, the Mazutat (authentic) mares with pure pedigree were used for tribe breeding. Colts for breeding were selected from this group and offspring yearlings were sold.
  • 2nd, were mares taken from nobles and stock from these programs. They were pedigreed, but colts were culled and not used for breeding.
  • 3rd, the third class included mares of unknown pedigree. These are used for performance only and may not be used in breeding programs.

In the 1940s, the Hearst ranch, nestled in the hills of San Simeon California, blended horses of Arabian and Morgan blood to create ranch working stock. Earlier breeding programs are documented in history and produced: Golddust, a tremendous trotter, carriage horses, and some working stock at the SMS Ranch in Stamford Texas in 1883.

William Randolph Hearst coined the word “Morab” to describe his particular breeding program. He purchased Morgans and developed a strain of horses that would provide him with a “sure-footed mount” capable of working the California hills and daily chores. In his program he used Ksar and Ghazi, Arabian stallions, with his Morgan mares. While the program dissolved in 1937, it did plant the idea of the Morab and their value in the heart of some horse breeders.

In Clovis California during the 1970s, the Fuller family began the Morab Horse of America organization. This started the public interest in Morgan-Arabian breeding. Shortly after their creation, another organization was created and it was named the Hearst Memorial Morab Horse Association. (These records are currently archived in PMHA today). The Clovis records were lost when the family closed the door to the public about 1980. Some of the registrations through this organization was based on appearance rather than pedigree.

The North American Morab Horse Association was created in the early 1980s at the close of the California organization and was active between 1984-1998. In 1998, NAMHA changed to PMHA. Membership meetings decided this change was a positive one that would usher in the dawn of a registry that documented pure Morgan to Arabian bloodlines. Following the principles of the Bedouin breeders, PMHA moved into the development of culling all horses that did not meet the exact criteria of breeding stock and promote for breeding only those that would strongly identify with the Arabian and the Morgan bloodlines that they genetically inherit.

The PMHA Morab could be shown as a respectable breed, the “Purebred” Morab Horse Association and Registry was created and the first National Morab Show was held in 1998. Only horses that are proven to be purebred are permitted to show in breed classes and futurities. This change has been a credit to the Morab breeders who value the stock raised and the bloodlines they offer the public.

Today this organization stands for quality, pedigree correctness, and preserves the beautiful blending of Arabian-Morgan characteristics. PMHA operates with its members using consensus-building, dynamic interaction of interest groups, and utilizes integrity and respect as its basic foundation.

The records from the NAMHR are still retained and active by PMHA, but these horses are not used as breeding stock. The registry is retained for it archival value and to allow the transfer and performance of horses that once were registered by other Morab registries and believed to be Morab but not proven. The Hearst Memorial Registry is also retained for its archival significance as well as the Morab Horse Registry (MHA Morab horses).

PMHA supports its foundation breeds, the Morgan and Arabian in their regularly planned events and their National Show, by offering Class ‘A’ status for those breeds thus allowing points at this show to be transferred to the cumulative awards at the external programs. Surely, the events offer an opportunity for breeders to “spread their wings” and participate for additional points and exposure. PMHA also supports a futurity and stallion auction for interested breeders to profit from their participation.

Sport horse classes were added to the show program in 2003 as well as the traditional classes that appeal to the breeders of Morgan and Arabian horses. Also, a USAEq & USDF approved Dressage show is scheduled the day preceding the event.

The 2002 Champion for Morab Honors was WF Rapidash. Dash is an extremely versatile gelding bred in Tiffin Ohio by Willow Farms. He is a testament of the Morgan and Arabian traditions with a beautiful free floating trot, fiery demonstration of gaits, and a docility that is beautifully — Morab. He is sired by: Arabian — MajorrMirz — descended from Bask and Skowronek line and blended with Daniel Lambert, General Gates, Ethan Allen 2nd. The package is undeniably a winning combination according to the judges of last year’s event.

The 2009 Champion for Morab Honors was SAX Golddust, owned by Donna Lassanske of Sonora KY. He is a versatile dressage and warm blood prospect with dynamic gate and gentle disposition — typical of Morab breeding.

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You can contact us directly by sending inquiries to PMHA, W2802 Emons Road, Appleton, WI 54915. (920) 687-0188 or (270) 735-5331 (cell phone).

Address: P.O. Box 802, Georgetown, KY 40324
Phone: (502) 535-4803 • Cell: (270) 735-5331 ·