THE LIPPITT MORGAN HORSE
Having lived most of my life in the Beautiful state of Vermont, I often forget much of the rest of the world may not be familiar with the Morgan Horse breed. Walt Disney produced a film named, Justin Morgan Had A Horse.
The origins of the Morgan Horse is credited to a single stallion named after his owner, Justin Morgan. This two year old bay colt is said to have been a debt payment to Mr. Morgan a music teacher back in the late 1700s.
As the horse matured, he “out-pulled, out raced and out worked all contenders, he was a favorite in two horse races, be it at the fair or the friendly gatherings in towns.. He was known for his trot, he could work all day in the fields, and still have the presence and energy to bring the family to town at the end of the day or to church on Sunday.
Horses were not usually named back then but were known by their owners name, thus…the Morgan Horse. Mares were brought to him for breeding and it became apparent that the “morgan horse” reproduced his likeness regardless of the mares background. Of his numerous get, he produced three sons who established equine dynasties of their own: Sherman, small but mighty, hard working , even tempered and tough; Woodbury foaled in Tunbridge, vt, fearless, showoff, largest of the three sons, loved parading to music and a crowd and Bulrush, also foaled in tunbridge, vt. Best known for his speed and endurance under harness.
Bulrush blood became absorbed into other equine lines and virtually lost. However, the Sherman and Woodbury lines were used by astute breeders, combining and intensifying the traits so admired from Justin Morgan himself. The third and fourth generation morgans resembled old Justin very closely, more so than his first and second generation. To have a Morgan Horse was a top selling point in those early times.
The term ”Lippitt” is used to denote a family or bloodline of the Morgan Horse. The name was borrowed from a man who bred these horses for 40 years, many of which were sold across the United States and Canada. The man's name was Robert Lippitt Knight, better known for his prized show Ayshire cattle in Hope, Rhode Island. Mr. Knight owned a stock farm in Randolph, Vermont where Angus beef cattle were kept at the time.
Mr. Knight obtained four mares and two stallions after their owner, A. Fullerton Phillips of Windsor, Vermont, passed away in 1926. The horses were brought to the Randolph location, known as the Green Mountain Stock Farm, still located there .Other horses were added from time to time but Knight was an astute pedigree student as evidenced by his show cattle and he put the same breeding practices to work with his newly acquired horses. He bred the daughters of one stallion, Ashbrook, to the other, moro, and vice versa.
There were three dispersals of these horses during Mr. Knight's lifetime, the first in 1929 which was cancelled part way through for lack of decent bids, but not before some top stock left the state. In 1952, another dispersal was held due to lack of help, it was not long after (months) knight began purchasing horses back! The reason…he missed them! The last dispersal was in 1962 following the death of Mr. Knight. Many times such a dispersal spells doom for a breeding program,,, not so in this case….A couple men, one from the west coast and one from the east coast, took a survey of where the dispersed horses had gone…the numbers were low enough to cause concern to the east coast man (Marshall Winkler) and he began gathering information and people to keep this family alive, many joined in the effort and the result was a club was formed, The lippitt club, inc., to keep a finger on the pulse of what today is known as the “Lippitt Morgan.”. today there are actually two organizations involved in preserving and promoting the Lippitt Morgan. In 1996 the second group banded together as breeders to conserve the dwindling gene pool This group with again, Mr. Winkler in the lead with others, founded what is known as the lippitt morgan breeders association. Both groups coexist today for the benefit of the Lippitt Morgan.
Why is so much energy devoted to a family of Morgans? What makes the Lippitt different from other morgans? These are the two most frequently asked questions folks answer at expos , shows or open barns.
What is a lippitt? Quite simply stated, a Lippitt Morgan traces back directly to Justin Morgan without any recent outcrossings to other family lines or equine breeds. Remember the old breeders who bred intensely to Woodbury and Sherman? The Lippitt Morgan is a living testimony to those breedings, it still is carried on today, sometimes one can trace their horses back to Justin in 12 generations, quite an impressive feat considering its been over 200 years!! This inbreeding has produced typiness, hardiness, endurance and the ability to live and thrive on the simplest conditions. Beauty, brains, good bone and feet, all wrapped up in three basic colors: chestnut, bay or black. White markings are allowed, stripes, stars, socks, or stockings. Lippitts range from 13.0 hands to 15 hands. The Lippitt conformation can be blocky, strong, short back, laid back shoulder, crested, upright neck, small ears and bright eyes.
A foundation list of 25 horses has been established and each Lippitt has to trace back to those and only those foundation stock.
To see a Lippitt will leave a lasting impression and not easily forgotten with their proud presence.
Where does one find these living Justin Morgans? All over the United States, Canada, even South America, Australia, New Zealand and England. Lippitts are seen being shown in the Nationals, high point in the Morgan World, expositions, driving events, working on ranches, packing supplies into the mountains for hunting or just plain riding in the mountains for fun, some have been used in therapeutic programs, working the fields for the Amish. Driving competitions are a great venue for the Lippitts, especially cde’s, combined driving events, their intelligence and athletic abilities make them a natural for these events, single or double.
One place each year in mid-august, in Tunbridge, Vermont, you can come and see Lippitts and Lippitt folks gathered in one spot for two days of informal but competitive fun. It is the Lippitt Country Show. Breed classes are usually on Saturdays and all other events on Sunday including saddle and driving races. Two of the most popular classes are the Justin Morgan Standard Class, recently renamed the Green Mt. Morgan Standard Class , open to all stallions , mares and geldings, and more recently a class for mares, called the Ancient Mare Class…A win in either of these classes is a feather in ones hat for sure!
What can a Lippitt Morgan do? Anything you ask it to do!!!!
Further information may be obtained from the clubs websites listed below:
Submitted by Judy Mosman
Click here for part 2.
Click Here for a map of Lippitt Morgans in the United States.