The Morab horse is a cross between a Morgan horse and an Arabian. This breed possesses the best characteristics of both breeds in temperament, confirmation, endurance and soundness. They are beautiful movers and are an extremely popular mount for novice riders, children and the elderly. They have great capacity to pass on all their traits to the future generation. Many Morab owners love their horses so much they keep them for life.
Since the 1800’s, people have been breeding Morgan and Arab crosses. It is the combined characteristics of the two horses which provide the encouragement to continue this tradition.
The Morgan horse is an American breed founded in the 1700’s in Vermont. The breed’s bloodlines can be traced to one stud whose name was Justin Morgan. Because of the terrain and harsh climate of Vermont, Morgan horses were bred to be strong, intelligent, and fast with tremendous endurance.
Arabian horses were developed by the Bedouin tribes in the Middle Eastern deserts. They depended upon their animals for survival. This meant breeding horses which were sound, and spirited with great stamina and speed for crossing the desert. Interestingly, both breeds are kind, people-pleasers.
The first Morab on record was bred in Kentucky in 1855. His name was Gold Dust, but officially he was Morab #69 in the Morgan registry. He was a beautiful, golden palomino who stood 16 hands tall and weighed 1275 pounds. His showiness and athleticism were unparalleled for his time.
Supposedly, he could walk six miles in one hour. He was so fast he beat Iron Duke in a match race in 1861, best three out of five for the $10,000 purse. His progeny were amazing, flashy and big horses; all of which excelled in the show ring. In his life he sired 302 foals. His own lifetime was unfortunately cut short during the Civil War years.
From about the time of the Civil war until the 1920’s, very little was written or recorded about Morabs. Sometime in the 1920’s, the famous American publisher William Randolph Hearst, decided to start breeding them again for use on his ranch in the Central California coastal mountains.
Hearst is credited with coining the term “Morab”. Following his lead, ranchers in Texas started crossing Morgans and Arabs to use as cow ponies and cutters. One of these crosses was Rey Boy, who was a champion cutter in the 1940’s. The Morgan and Arab cross was a surprisingly favorable combination for those disciplines.
In the 1950’s, a woman named Martha Doyle Fuller began raising Morabs. It is her daughter, Ilene Miller, who started the first Morab registry in the United States in 1973. Today’s registry requires documented Arabian and Morgan blood in order to list a horse. These horses are required to have a blood ratio of no more than 75% Arabian to 25% Morgan or vice versa. Thus, a 50/50 Morab can be bred to a pure Arabian or a pure Morgan, and the offspring will still be registry material. These requirements leave many options for introducing new blood, as well as allowing for greater versatility as the breed develops into the future.
The Morab is a nice size horse, standing between 14.1 to 15.2 hands tall and weighing between 950 to 1200 pounds. They have an eye-pleasing refined overall confirmation. They can be any color and often have white on the face and legs. They have large and expressive eyes with well set ears. The ears have a nice curve at the top. The head is attractive and oftentimes possesses the “dished” forehead of the Arabian. The neck is strong and heavy but retains that refinement which contributes to its attractive appearance. It should be of a nice length and tie in well with the shoulders. The withers are defined with nice sloping, well muscled shoulders. The back is broad,
short, and strong, with a deep heart girth. The forelegs are long and strong, with short cannon bones and nice tendons. The pastern is medium in length and has a nice slope to it. It has a larger, rounder fetlock, and a nice round hoof which is smooth and dense. The barrel is large and round. The chest has good width. The hip is well muscled and has an angle conducive to great power and soundness. Its disposition is kind, calm, loving with a high degree of intelligence. Its movement is fluid and it has a natural collection not found in many breeds.
Morabs continue to be very popular due to their endurance and versatility. The International Morab Breeders Association offers many ways to become involved in the Morab world, including youth programs, lifetime achievement programs and incentive funds. Morabs are being shown in a variety of disciplines including Western and English pleasure, dressage, endurance, eventing, reining, cutting, ranch work, driving and dressage. Their versatility is without comparison in the equine world.