Breed Affiliation (or not.)


Note: This is day 17 of my 30-day blogging challenge. What the heck is a 30-day blogging challenge? Read about it here.

I love all horses, but I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Morgans. Like me, the breed is native to New England, and when I lived up there, I was figuratively surrounded by them. Maybe because they were so ubiquitous, I never really felt the need to get involved in the local Morgan horse club. There wasn’t any reason to seek out other fans of the breed. They were everywhere.

Morgan Horses
This photo was not taken in Kentucky.

There are a fair number of Morgans in Kentucky, according to statistics, but most of them must be hiding. The Saddlebred-oriented boarding barn Snoopy lived in when we first moved down here had one other Morgan resident (another recent arrival to the state) and through his owner, I got involved with a local Morgan club.

A horse is a horse, and of course you don’t need to find other people who like the same exact type of horse that you do, but it’s sort of nice. At the same time, being part of a local breed club in a locale where the breed is a very small part of the overall horse population is a struggle. Our club has few members and fewer truly involved members. I know there are a lot more Morgan owners around, but the question of how to get them to join us is one we kick around a lot, and never really come up with an answer. I have a few thoughts, though, about why people might own and love a particular breed, but not care to join that breed’s organization.

  • Sport over breed. I think if you’re, say, a jumper who shows on the local circuit, and you own a great horse who happens to be a Morgan, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have much to gain by affiliating with the breed. If you’re only ever interested in riding jumpers, when it comes time to look for your next horse, you’re going to look for one who will do well in the sport you love at the level you’re aiming for, and it really doesn’t matter what association issued his papers.

    (But in the meantime, while you do still have this Morgan, you don’t really have anything to lose by joining the local club, right? I mean, it could be fun!)

  • Let’s pretend he’s not a Morgan. The next step over not really caring what your horse’s breed is is viewing his breed as an undesirable trait. In some circles, Morgans have a reputation for being nutty park horses (or old timey plow horses, depending on who you ask.) In fact, if your breed has its own show circuit (think Quarter Horse, Arabian, Saddlebred, etc.) people are probably going to stereotype your horse with the most extreme of whatever that show circuit has, be it a peanut-rolling western pleasure horse or a half-crazed halter beast. If you’re in a barn full of fancy sport horses, maybe you would prefer to downplay your horse’s status as a non-imported non-Warmblood. Personally, I think people should be loud and proud when they have a horse competing in something considered non-traditional for its breed, but I get why life is maybe easier if you don’t.
  • Lone wolf. And then, of course, there are horse owners who don’t feel the need to affiliate with any group. They have a horse, they might be able to tell you its breed but they probably don’t care a lot, and they’re certainly not about to advertise it with bumper stickers or “Ask Me About My Morgan” license plate frames. They don’t want you to ask them about their horse. They just want to do their thing. And I respect that, too.
  • No Membership Required. There are certainly people who are loyal to their breed, attend breed circuit shows and/or compete in breed-specific classes, and have no desire to own horses of a different breed. They tell people how great that breed is and hang out with other breed fans at their breed barn. But they don’t join the local club because why would they? They’re already living the Morgan [Arab, Quarter Horse, whatever] life. They don’t need to pay membership dues to prove it.

Those last ones are the people who I really think should join, especially if they’re into a breed that isn’t super popular in their region. Without a unified voice, it’s hard to convince the local shows to add or keep your breed classes. It’s more challenging to get a spot in the demos and expos where breed promotion takes place. You miss out on meeting someone who might be interested in buying or selling a horse that you’re interested in selling or buying. You lose a chance to connect with people who get your affection for something as seemingly arbitrary as a certain breed of horse.

Where do you fall? Do you care about your horse’s breed at all? Let me know in the comments, and if you are into Morgans and live in Kentucky, please do get in touch. Seriously.

<< Previous Entry

Back to The Near Side

Leslie Potter is Sr. Associate Web Editor Follow her on Twitter: @LeslieInLex.


  1. I don’t have a clue what breed my horse is…I would guess old-time ranch Quarter Horse crossed with a Spanish mustang but I don’t know for sure. If I had a registered purebred I’d probably get into breed showing and breed clubs but I don’t know for positive sure.

  2. I have 3 horses, a Quarter Horse mare, a Arabian/Quarter horse cross gelding, and a Friesian/Paint cross. While there are a few QH breed clubs around my area, there are no Friesian or Friesian cross breed clubs. Same with Arabian or Arabian cross.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here