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The question most often asked about the Morab surrounds their status as a breed. Some misunderstand and consider the Morab a part-bred while others have termed them half-breeds. Morabs (the progeny of Morgan/Arabian breeding) are neither half-Morgans nor half-Arabians, but rather are a very distinct breed. Today's Morabs have proven over six generations that they transmit their distinguishing characteristics with a high degree of certainty to their progeny, putting the question of breed status to rest! Only foundation stock (first generation Morabs) can posses Morab registration, 1/2 Morgan registration in the Archival Morgan Record (AMR), and 1/2 Arabian registration in the Half Arabian Registry (IAHA). This makes first generation Morabs triple registrable, plus the various color registries. Succeeding generations of Morabs bred Morab to Morab are no longer registrable with either half registry.
Modern Morab breeders carefully select mares and stallions that will combine the best genetic traits of their breeds. This fusion of Morgan and Arabian characteristics is genetically complimentary and gives the resultant Morab enhanced beauty and strength.
Ancient desert horses of the Bedouins were bred for beauty, stamina, soundness, speed and disposition. Several centuries later, that same Arabian blood was part of a still unknown genetic formula that resulted in the legendary stallion, Justin Morgan. This one horse founded the Morgan horse, a uniquely American breed. The rugged terrain and harsh climate of Vermont in the late 1700's only served to enhance the merits of this hearty little stallion, who proved himself time and time again in tests of his incredible strength, speed, and endurance. These traits, plus his friendly, willing disposition were passed on with unfailing accuracy to his progeny, as they are now, over 200 years later.
Today's well-bred Morabs combine Morgan strength and depth with Arabian refinement and sensitivity. The Arabian horse, often called the "Drinker Of The Wind" for its powerful lungs, combined with the broad, powerful chest of the Morgan, gives the Morab a naturally superior breathing system.
Morabs possess a shorter back than other breeds (one backbone less), as does the Arabian. This shorter back, combined with the longer croup of the Morgan, endows the Morab with great strength and a smooth gait. These in turn enable Morabs to excel in Competitive and Endurance events and working off its powerful hindquarters, natural athletic ability that makes it well suited for the high performance demands of Dressage, Jumping and Cutting Horses.
Mature Morab's hooves and legs hold up well to excessive stress, since the Morgan contributes wonderful formation of bone and a medium length pastern, and the Arabian adds the broad, hard hoof and lower heel. This accounts for the almost nonexistent foot and leg problems of the Morab breed, and many breeders report that their Morabs are never shod and require minimum hoof trimming.
Muscular, yet refined, best describes the appearance of the mature Morab. Average height is 14.1 hands to 15.2 hands and there are a wide variety of colors and markings common to Morgans and Arabians. The Morab body is compact, of medium length, well-muscled, smooth and stylish. Large, dark expressive eyes are set off by a wide forehead. A thick, luxuriant mane and tail balances out its muscular build. The Morab's head may be straight to slightly dished with a big powerful jaw in contrast to a small muzzle with large, bold nostrils. The refined, sculpted beauty of the Arabian, joined with the Morgans dramatic natural style and stamina creates a elegantly powerful horse for use in the show ring, performance competition, as a working horse, or on the trail. Indeed, most Morabs comfortably switch back and forth in all these activities.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Handbook #394, "A breed of horse may be defined as a group of horses of common origin and possessing certain, well-defined, distinctive, uniformly transmitted characteristics that are not common to other horses ..."
Cross breeding between breeds can produce desirable horses, if the parents are of high quality, but often the resultant crossbred foals (even full brothers and sisters) do not show many like traits and may not even look alike. This is not true in the Morab; all well-bred Morabs have a consistently uniform look, with some degree of refinement; with second, third, fourth and successive generations showing very little if any change from the first generation. It is this ability to transmit their distinguishing characteristics to their progeny that make the Morab a distinct breed, rather than just another nice cross-bred horse.
History's first recorded Morab was Golddust (registered in the Morgan registry as #70), bred in 1855, who produced 302 foals and left 44 trotters of record. In the 1920's William Randolph Hearst bred a number of Morabs for use on the mountainous terrain of the Hearst San Simeon Ranch (registered in the Morgan registry with his Sunical prefix). In the 1940's the Swenson brothers produced outstanding stock horses crossing their Morgans with Arabians at their famous SMS Texas ranch. In the 1950's Martha Doyle Fuller developed a show quality Morab program at her California ranch and her daughter, M. Irene Miller, started the first Morab registry in 1973. The International Morab Registry now carries the distinction of maintaining the archives, gathering historical background and registering today's Morabs.
In summary, today's Morab is a carefully bred animal, representing the finest traits of both its founding parent breeds. Fusing Morgan and Arabian blood produces the "Magnificent Morab", an extremely versatile breed of exciting horses!
An essay by Linda Konichek for the IMR.
MANE AND FORETOP:
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Updated: October 2005.