Horseying Around at the University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm

As a ten year old, I admired horses while cranking my neck back to see the entire animal. Today, I’m taller and don’t have to strain my neck as much but I don’t get too many opportunities to spend some time with the friendly giants. I jumped at the opportunity of an apprenticeship with the University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm, located right outside of Middlebury, Vermont. Apprentices spend one year living, working and learning, becoming involved in a wide variety of overall farm operations. Each apprentice is involved in the training of young Morgans in driving and riding.  Apprentices are involved in foaling, the breeding of mares and the collection of stallions, meaning collection of their semen.

A designated National Historic Site, the farm is dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the Morgan Horse through breeding and selection. For over 50 years, the farm has provided educational experiences and training for students and visitors while perpetuating the Battell, Government, and UVM bloodlines. UVM Morgans are prized as superb pleasure horses for recreational use and as foundation broodstock.

    The UVM “government” line of Morgan Horse is considered one of the best in the world. The economic impact of equines in Vermont is over $27 million per year, making it the second largest agricultural industry. About 100,000 acres of Vermont land are kept open by horses.

    Director and Trainer, Stephen Davis with a Morgan horse.

    I spent two days living with a current apprentice and taking part in daily tasks – shoveling manure from stalls, feeding the horses hay and grain, filling up water buckets, grooming and saddling the horses and cleaning the stables. I enjoyed every minute of it. However, the apprenticeship is a year long, residential program. All expenses, except board, are out of pocket. The Morgan Horse Institute does offer many scholarships for those interested in pursuing a career with horses. The program is certainly worth it for any horse enthusiast but for an amateur like me, I’ll have to look into other opportunities to spend time with these creatures.

    Bridles, lead ropes and blue ribbons hang alongside jackets.

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