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Tebbetts Op-Ed: Honoring Vermont’s State Animal, the Morgan Horse

October 5, 2021
Morgan Horse Statue

By Anson Tebbetts - Vermont Agriculture Secretary

October 5, 2021 | Weybridge, VT - Recently, hundreds of equestrian lovers, historians and many others gathered at the UVM Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge to celebrate the centennial of “Figure,” a statue of the Morgan horse. Vermonter Justin Morgan, who owned Figure in the late 1700s, created the Morgan breed with Figure as its foundational sire. The life-size bronze statue of “Figure” stood tall on his 100th birthday, almost as if he were playing to the crowd.

Figure was erected in 1921 in honor of the Vermont Morgan horse.  Since then, thousands of Morgans have been raised at the UVM Morgan Horse Farm. Multitudes of people have visited this stunning farm as well. Figure can be found in photographs around the world. It’s hard to leave the farm without snapping a picture standing next to this incredible Morgan.

The Morgan Horse is the Vermont State Animal, on par with maple and dairy as one of the iconic symbols of the Green Mountains. Through the years, the University of Vermont has been the keeper of this state ambassador. We thank University of Vermont staff and leadership, and all the countless volunteers, who cherish the Vermont Morgan. Their work has made a difference in keeping this important breed strong in Vermont and around the world.

Horses and horse farmers also contribute to our Vermont economy. They keep our land open and spacious. Our heads turn when we see a horse grazing in a pasture or peering from a stable, iconic Vermont scenes. Horse shows and competitions bring people to new regions. Farmers buy hay from their neighbors, providing much needed revenue for other farmers who are also keeping land in production. Horses have led many to create businesses and support others. Whether it’s bedding, feed, supplies, tourism or services, horses play a critical role in the health of our rural communities.

Horses also are great companions, accessible to all through 4-H and horse shows. These striking animals teach our young people responsibility and care of animals. Horses are trained to provide therapy for those who need support. Through contact and care of horses, thousands of Vermonters have been able to experience relationships with horses, learning life-long skills that benefit us all.

Thanks to Justin Morgan and Figure, the Vermont Morgan got its start in the hills of the Green Mountains. Upon the occasion of Figure’s 100th birthday, we thank horses and the people who love them for a wonderful century, contributing to Vermont’s past, present, and future.  

Anson B. Tebbetts

Secretary, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets