What is a Morgan Horse?

The Morgan horse is unique in that it descends from only one stallion, named Justin Morgan, after his owner by the same name. Originally called

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Why should I join Cornerstone Morgan Horse, Inc?

You should join us if you admire respect and appreciate the qualities of the Original Morgan Horse and if you seek the companionship of like-minded people. Members believe in the Morgan as family member, a solid working partner, a best friend, a versatile, athletic, kind, sane, intelligent animal who wants to share his or her life with you. That’s what a Foundation or High Percentage Foundation Morgan is all about. Within Cornerstone Morgan Horse, Inc., we support Morgan owners who are getting out there and doing something of any discipline with these unique horses showing the world at large that the real Morgan still does exist.

What is a Foundation Morgan Horse?

A Morgan is Foundation if it meets the following criteria:

a. The sire line must trace to Justin Morgan (very top line of pedigree)
b. Horse must not have any saddle bred outcross after 1930*
c. Offspring are categorized as ‘foundation’ as long as both parents qualify

*No saddle bred after 1930 means no horse foaled after 1930 with a saddle bred parent. The one exception is the registered offspring of the saddle bred mare Ladelle. She had foals, including full siblings, both before and after the 1930 date that were registered as Morgans. So, the decision was made to allow those from Ladelle as “Foundation”.

If your Morgans have any of these names in their pedigree, they are ineligible for 100% foundation status:
Upwey King Peavine/Astral Jones-Old Hockaday/Hudson/Admiral Denmark/Polly Forrest/Forest Whirlwind/
Barrymore McDonald/Rex Barrymore/Rex Peavine

How was the cut off date determined?

The Foundation Morgan database of approved horses and ancestors was established after several years of studying the pedigrees and history of the breed.

The questions that were asked when doing this research were:

• What caused the breed to lose its original characteristics?
• Which bloodlines brought into the breed in modern times did the most harm and caused the breed to change?
• Which bloodlines needed to be included in the Foundation database to save the old families?

The 1930 date came about after several years of study on conformation and bloodlines within the Morgan breed. Based on careful study of Morgan history, living horses, bloodlines, the Morgan standard, etc. it was determined that horses introduced into the registry after 1930 were th horses most responsible for the largest shift from type.

Using the 1930 cut off date, no Saddlebred after 1930, the later Saddlebred of the “modern” type that essentially had little or no Morgan blood at all was cut out. What little Morgan blood they may have had was long separated from the Morgan breed and the ancestors that may have been common to both breeds. The modern Saddlebred had evolved into an entirely different type and changed the classic conformation of the Morgan breed when introduced into the Morgan registry in the 1930s and later.

The 1930 date also eliminated all the bloodlines that had been investigated and proven by DNA testing to have parents that were not Morgan but were left in the registry, and/or left offspring and descendants in the registry, or were in breeding programs that were proven of doing illegal outcrossing.

The most notable of these horses was Upwey King Peavine, a pure, modern Saddle bred. His influence is extremely prevalent in pedigrees and therefore he had a very large influence on Morgan type. It is difficult to find Morgans that do not include him in their pedigrees. He also does not trace to Justin Morgan on the sire line…one of the requirements for 100% Foundation status

What is a "High Percentage" Morgan and how do I determine my horse's percentage?

A “high-percentage” Morgan has 97% or more Foundation breeding. By vote of the membership, we decided to use the same method to determine the percentage of Foundation breeding that the Foundation Quarter Horse Association adopted. This method is very mathematically precise, so we can confidently set a 97% criterion.

To determine your horse’s percentage, you will need to have access to an extended pedigree that goes back at least until 1930. For horses born in the last few years, that means 9 or 10 generations. The best place to access an extended pedigree is either the on-line registry at the AMHA website, which is available to AMHA members only, or the Allbreed Pedigree site. Just as a caution, AMHA charges a fee for registry access (although AMHA members do have free access period as a part of their membership). Allbreed is free site to use for lookups. The information is entered by individuals and can be changed by anyone, it is not 100% accurate. If you are tracing ancestry you will have to go through several screens for each line of the pedigree.

To determine what percentage of your horse’s lineage is Foundation, you must subtract out the outcross, which will primarily be Saddle bred. On the Allbreed site, the horse’s breed is listed under its name. The most common Saddle bred ancestor for today’s Morgans is Upwey King Peavine. He was registered as a Morgan, but his parents were both registered Saddle bred, and so we count him as a Saddle bred outcross. He is behind some very widely used horses, including Upwey Ben Don and Waseeka’s Nocturne, so if you are familiar with Morgan bloodlines, you will know which lines in your horse’s pedigree to look most closely at.[Other names to watch for are Hudson, Admiral Denmark, Polly Forrest, Forest Whirlwind, Barrymore McDonald, Rex McDonald, and Rex Peavine. Remember, the first registered non-Morgan you encounter is the “Marker” for where the outcrossing began. So to discover the outcross, you follow each line of your horse’s pedigree back to 1930. When you find a non-Morgan ancestor, note in which generation the outcross occurs. Do this for each line of your horse’s pedigree.

When you have your totals, use the following chart to figure out what percentages to subtract. I have rounded them to the nearest tenth, for the sake of making them easier to use:

Generations Back Percentage Multiplier












Example: Your horse has three crosses to Upwey King Peavine in the 8th generation. You would multiply 0.4% by 3, and find that that accounted for 1.2%. If your horse also has two crosses to UKP in the 7th generation, you would multiply 0.8% by 2, and have 1.6%. You then add the totals, and subtract 2.8% from 100%, which represents the total of blood behind your horse. You would find that this horse is 97.2% foundation, which is qualifies him as high-percentage. A horse can have several outcross and still be considered high-percentage. A lot depends on how far back in the pedigree the crosses occur. An outcross only 5 or 6 generations back changes the percentage more rapidly.

If your horse is below the “high-percentage” benchmark, he or she still may be a lovely and typed Morgan. He just would not qualify as “high-percentage” foundation, as he was likely bred for a show horse or other use in which the Saddle bred blood is valued. As preservationists, however, and many of us are breeders, we are interested in preserving as much of the Foundation Morgan blood as possible, and that is why avoiding the outcross is important.

If you have trouble figuring out how to determine your horse’s percentage, and you are a Cornerstone member, you are welcome to email his or her FULL REGISTERED NAME to, and we will be happy to help you.

Are foundation or high percent foundation mostly western working horses?

NO foundation and high % foundation horses do it all and many do many different disciplines well. Most are very versatile. Champions in driving, CDE, jumping, hunt, western, western working including ranch work, dressage at all levels from Intro to Grand Prix and the best all around family and trail horse.