Updated: Mar 22, 2022
When traveling down the back roads in rural Weybridge, visitors are often awestruck when the countryside opens up to a verdant, sweeping lawn and the farm’s stunning, white Victorian barn. A life-size bronze statue of ‘Figure’ stands proud before the home of the oldest, continuous Morgan horse breeding farm in the world. Middlebury, Vermont publisher Joseph Battell commissioned the Weybridge Stock Farm in 1878 to house his collection of the era’s finest Morgans. Joseph spent years researching and recording Morgan horse lineage, publishing the first Morgan Horse Registry, a document of Morgan bloodlines without which the integrity of the breed would have dissolved over time. Their reputation as preferred cavalry horses led the U.S. government to mandate the creation of a Morgan remount program in 1904, and Joseph seized the opportunity to continue his breeding program.
So, in 1907 it became the U.S. Government Morgan Horse Farm. Under the U.S.D.A., the farm bred Morgans as cavalry mounts until the 1950s. Known for their exceptional athleticism, U.S. Morgans competed in 300- and 400-mile trail rides in full cavalry appointments.The Government Morgans are one of the four main families of Morgan horses. Of the Morgans living today, an incredible percentage of their pedigrees can be traced back to the U.S. Morgan Horse Farm. Just as automobiles finally replaced draft animals, Morgans were finally no longer used as cavalry mounts. In 1951 the U.S.D.A. concluded its program in Weybridge and disbursed the herd to several land grant universities—and the University of Vermont became the steward of the Morgan Horse Farm.
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University of Vermont (UVM) students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have worked with the Morgans from Weybridge since the 1950s, studying equine management, reproduction, and ge- netics. The now “UVM” Morgan herd is one of the highest regarded in the world, known for conformity
in type and confirmation. The farm offers horses for sale, stallions at stud, and breeding services. Internships for matriculated undergraduate students provide the opportunity to live and work on the historic farm, learning firsthand what it takes to care for 40 Morgan horses.
The farm opened to the public as a tourism destination in the 1970s. In a world where people grow increasingly distant from agriculture, the Morgan Horse Farm offers a chance to experience the beauty and power of a horse firsthand in such a picturesque Vermont setting.
Visitors are welcome and can experience guided tours from May through October. A small admission fee directly benefits the operations, and educational events are hosted several times throughout the year. A robust network of philanthropic Friends of the Farm contribute to the success of this important institution, dedicated to the preservation of the Morgan horse—an American treasure.
By Margot Smithson Photo by Chris Russell, courtesy of Timothy Smith
University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm
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