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Love Horses? Visit the Famous
Morgan Horse Farm at
University of Vermont
By Dale Piper

Almost hidden on a side road in Weybridge, Vermont is the University of
Morgan Horse Farm, an absolute gem among the state’s must-see

“Attraction” is hardly a fair word for it, since it isn’t commercialized or glitzy.  
It’s serene and beautiful; the grounds are gorgeous, the foals are romping in
the pastures and the horses are always in beautiful shape.

Tours are given for a nominal charge between 9:00 and 4:00 each day. There are
sumptuous lawns with picnic tables for an al fresco lunch and a gift shop full
of goodies for horse lovers.

The farm was established by renowned Middlebury benefactor Joseph Battell
in 1878 to further establish the Morgan breed and ensure its continuation.  

The first Morgan horse, owned by Randolph, Vermont schoolteacher Justin
Morgan, and named Figure, was born in the 1790s of vague parentage, but his
appearance and endurance were distinctive and, as a stud, he unfailingly
passed on his traits to his offspring.  In response to the need to keep records of
these wonderful horses, Mr. Battell started the registry, which to this day is
maintained by the American Morgan Horse Association as a detailed record of
every Morgan’s breeding.  

An amusing story has been handed down about Mr. Battell, a man of
considerable means who did a great deal of good in the area but who was not
accustomed to being told he could not do something.  He was riding the back
roads with a hired man when he saw a beautiful Morgan mare in a field.  

Said he: “I must buy that horse!”  His employee replied: “Sir, you can’t.”  “I
most certainly can! Why do you say that?” he countered.  And the answer was,
“Because you already own her.”

In 1907, with the needs of the military becoming obvious, Mr. Battell gave the
farm and its stock to the United States government.  The Morgan had already
shown itself to be a superior horse during the Civil War, and because of the
breed’s endurance, disposition and versatility the Morgan made an ideal
military mount and the government continued a breeding program that
concentrated on these features.  

Some of the aesthetics of the breed were lost in the military’s efforts to produce
a larger animal with a longer stride, but the general appearance remained.  The
result was referred to thereafter as the “Government Morgan” and these
bloodlines exist today in many of the breed’s finest examples.

In 1951, after it was clear that the military had no further need for cavalry
mounts, the government gave the farm to the University of Vermont.  Since the
breed was so clearly of Vermont origin, it seemed logical that the state’s
agricultural college could do far more with and for the Morgan horse.  

Thus began a breeding and training program that is still going strong today.  
The farm’s efforts have been largely aimed toward maintaining and improving
quality and returning to the original physical appearance, which is a relatively
small (compared to other breeds like the thoroughbred) deep-chested, high-
headed horse with small ears and a large, kind, expressive eye.  The Morgan
has a natural tendency toward a high-stepping, elegant gait and this has been
cultivated in those that are trained in the Park Horse discipline.

Visitors to the farm can meet the mares and stallions used in the breeding
program.   If you are lucky, you can see the farm’s director, Steve Davis,
training a show horse in the indoor training arena –- truly a sight to behold!

As the farm does every year, it raffles off one of its foals every spring.  Tickets
are two dollars each and the lucky winner will be the proud owner of UVM
Northfield, a colt born in April.

A little-known aspect to the farm is the apprentice program.  Open to those
seriously considering careers in the horse industry, applicants must be at least
18 years of age and have a strong interest, a healthy work ethic and the
willingness to spend one year learning as much as they can.  They participate
in not only barn chores, but also proper grooming and feeding, training,
breeding and –- most fun of all –- spring foaling.  They also give farm tours
and help to educate visitors.

Hardly just a showplace, the UVM Morgan Horse Farm is equally an
educational facility.  Every year they host an Equine Reproductive Workshop
attended by people from all over the northeast.  Other workshops and
seminars are hosted throughout the year. Environmentally friendly as well,
they enthusiastically participate in Middlebury College’s composting
program, donating all of their barn waste to enrich the compost.

Pack a lunch, take a tour, learn about Vermont’s State Horse and most of all
enjoy yourself!  

The UVM Morgan Horse Farm is located 2 miles from Middlebury at:

UVM Morgan Horse Farm
74 Battell Drive
Weybridge, VT 05753
Phone: 802-388-2011 Fax: 802-388-0844

From Burlington, Vermont
Travel South on Route 7 to Middlebury.
Take 125 West to 23 North.
Go 3/4 mile and follow signs for Morgan Horse Farm.

About the author: Dale Piper lives and writes in Middlebury, Vermont, where lives
with her husband David.  Mother of two, and grandmother of two, she graduated from
St. Lawrence University and Middlebury College.  Writing since high school, where she
was Feature Editor for the school newspaper, she worked for the State of Vermont for 33
years until her retirement. Most of her recent work appears regularly in The Valley
Voice, an Addison County, Vermont weekly, in the form of features, opinion pieces and
local color.   
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Morgan Horse Farm at the University of Vermont
©The Heart of New England online magazine
...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
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