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The Morab Horse: Cross-breed or Breed in its own Right?

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Tags: Morab, Breeding, Behavior, History and Origins

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The Morab Horse has generally been accepted as a breed in its own right, but there are still questions about the validity of such a claim. How can a horse be considered to be a breed in its own right when it is often the product of a cross between two different breeds? This is a legitimate question, when even today, Morabs are able to be included in the register whether they are the offspring of pure Morabs or of a cross between Arabians and Morgans. In fact, the Morab can be legitimately called a breed in its own right, and the reasons why may astonish you.

In defense of the Morab as a breed in its own right, we need only to refer to the United States Department of Agriculture Handbook, #394, which states that "A breed of horse may be defined as a group of horses of common origin and possessing certain well-defined, distinctive, uniformly transmitted characteristics that are not common to other horses." Cross-breeding has never been an exact science, as it takes a great deal of experimentation and guesswork to discover what the result of crossing two different breeds will be. The offspring of crossbreeding, even from the same parents, can result in two foals that do not look alike. Perhaps the sole exception is the Morab, which consistently inherits similar traits from Arabians and Morgans. This means that successive generations, even as far as fifth generations of Morabs, still look extremely similar to first generation crosses. Because the Morab transmits their distinguishing characteristics from one generation to the next, the horse is considered to be a breed in and of itself, and not just a nice cross.

What are these characteristics that are consistently inherited? Probably the most obvious is the skeletal structure that it gets from its Arabian heritage, as it always inherits the Arabian's five vertebrae, instead of the usual six. This means that the horse has a shorter back, but also the longer croup of the Morgan, giving the Morab a smooth gait and a great deal of strength. From the Morgan, the Morab also inherits the very strong legs and hooves that the Morgan needed in the rough terrain of the American Northeast. This means that the Morab rarely has leg problems and the hooves are so strong that they are rarely if ever shod.

While the physical traits of the Morab are quite impressive, many owners and breeders say that the main attraction to this horse is actually its amazing temperament. Both Morgans and Arabians are popular for their high levels of intelligence, but combined with the Arabian's well known tendency to be very affectionate and people-loving, the Morab is a very attractive horse indeed, even for riding with children, senior citizens, or those that are inexperienced in horseback riding. Also, thanks to the fact that most registries of the breed accept those Morabs that have a ratio of 75 / 25 percentage of Morgan or Arabian blood, breeders have a wider choice of breeding options, meaning that even 50 / 50 Morabs can be crossed with Morgans or Arabians and still be eligible for all three registries.

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The Morab Horse: Cross-breed or Breed in its own Right?
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