Father led out the colts. They were perfectly matched Morgans, exactly the same size, the same shape, the same bright brown all over, with the same white stars on their foreheads. They arched their necks and picked up their little feet daintily.
“Four years old in May, sound in wind and limb, not a blemish on them,” Father said. “Broken to drive double or single. They’re high-spirited, full of ginger, and gentle as kittens. A lady can drive them.”
Almanzo listened. He was excited, but he remembered carefully everything that Father and the horse-buyer said. Some day he would be trading horses, himself.
- Farmer Boy, Chapter 13, The Strange Dog
In Farmer Boy, we first learn about Morgan horses, the specific type of horse that the Wilders had on their farm in New York when Almanzo was a boy. Morgan horses are a breed of horse that originated in the United States in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They are named after Justin Morgan, and these horses are known for their strength, stamina, and versatility.
Pioneers in the American West often owned Morgan horses because they were well-suited to the rugged terrain and harsh conditions of the frontier and rural United States. They were strong enough to pull wagons and plows, and fast enough to be used for transportation and as cavalry horses.
Additionally, Morgan horses were known for their intelligence and trainability, which made them valuable as work and riding horses. Due to their versatility and hardiness, they became popular among pioneers, farmers, and settlers in the American West.
When Almanzo is at the county fair, he talks with a horse seller and mentions Morgans can pull a wagon with their muscles but are also quick enough for pulling a buggy.