Kenneth A. Telford
Big Springs Farm
Having been nudged, cajoled, and hounded by a couple of Lippitt-loving ladies to set forth some of the tidbits I've come across in working out pedigrees and percentages of Morgan horses, especially Lippitts, I've come up with the following for the sake of my peace of mind.
Not counting Ethan Allen 2nd 406 as one of the Lippitts, since he is our Cornerstone and not one of the Foundation Stock (just as the ancient Greeks did not allow that "l" was a number, but rather the unit that a person counted in order to produce a number), the oldest Lippitt is Croydon Prince #5325 born in 1890. Because of Battell's erratic methods he is not listed until Vol. IV while 11 other Lippitts born later than he appear in Vols. II and III. From Croydon Prince to the last born Lippitt foal registered in Vol. XIII there were a total of exactly (I hope) 888 Morgans born that can be totally traced to our 8 Foundation Stallions and 17 Foundation Mares. (This assumes these 25 can be totally traced themselves and therefore includes them.) Of these 428 were stallions or geldings, 460 were mares. To determine what percentage of the total Morgan registration are Lippitts one must discount Vols. II, III, and IV, for the 29 Lippitts in these Vols. are mainly our Foundation Stock, their offspring appearing in Vol. V. Vols. V through XIII registered a total of 43,518 Morgans (20544 stallions, 22974
mares including some geldings). This makes the percentage of Lippitts in these 9 volumes 1.97%. I wonder whether Lippitt owners will think this percentage high or low. For myself, I was surprised that it was that large. But a better question is whether Lippitt breeders are keeping up with the general growth in numbers of all Morgans. Whether this is to be regarded as good or bad will be discussed below, but the answer is no. The percentage in the sequence of these 9 volumes is erratic until the trend is established in
Vol. IX. The percentages of Lippitts in Vol V through Vol XIII are 4.55%, 2.00%, 3.16%, 3.84%, 2.87%, 1.42%, 1.37%, 1.10%, and 1.14%. Vol. XIII is a very small one, and one can't be sure whether there is a upward trend. If the Lippitt Club had a total registration of Lippitts from 1974 on, one would have a better idea. (Incidentally, though Vol. XIII primarily registers 1974 foals, it does not contain all of them.) It wasn't until 1917 that there were 5 Lippitt foals born, not until 1945 that there were as many as 10, and it was 1950 that first saw the birth of at least 20. In 1960 Mr. Knight had been joined by enough others to produce over 30 for the first
time, and except for 6 years there have been 30 or more each year since. In 1974 the number went over 40 for the first time though Vol. XIII does not list them all.
There is a change that is taking place in the coloration of Lippitts that we should pay attention to. By far the most of registered Morgans are chestnut and the dominance seems to be increasing. In fact there are very many Morgans being registered that have un-Morganish colors, like palominos and duns. Even the prohibition against white Morgans came too late. I know of no duns or palominos among the Lippitts and there are none if the registrations are correct. Since bays, browns and blacks all have their color because of the presence of a "black" gene in contrast to a chestnut gene, let us call horse of these three colors, "colored," in order to contrast them in toto with chestnuts. Bays, browns, and blacks all have the black (dominant) gene, and differ in color because of the effect of another gene, a modifying gene, which alters the black to brown or bay. None of our Foundation Stock was black (a color some of you know I'm a bit partial to), nor were any brown. Of the 8 Foundation Stallions the split was even, 4 bays and 4 chestnuts (2 of these dark). Of the 17 Foundation Mares there were only 5 bays (1 very dark) but 12 chestnuts (3 dark and 1 a black chestnut which we must remind ourselves is a chestnut, not a black, if correctly labeled). Of the 888 Lippitts from Vol. II to Vol. XIII there were only 6 stallions and 11 mares that were black, less than 3%. The bays have numbered 123 stallions and 149 mares, while the chestnuts have 281 stallions and 294 mares. Colored Lippitts have then been 35.36% of the 888. This I think is a good deal higher than the percentage of total registered Morgans, but I haven't gone through the 43,518 horse to find out. Of the 40 or so offspring of Justin Morgan I have come across going through the Register, only 4 were known to be chestnut, 2 of these being rather famous ones, Woodbury and Sherman. The Hawkins horse was black and one of his daughters was brown, as may also have been his son Revenge. The rest of those whose color is given are all bay. No wonder that among many people Morgan means bay.
What is interesting, though, is the change that has occurred in the percentage of colored Lippitts through the volumes. Starting with Vol. IV the percentages are 33.33%, 31.25%, 29.82%, 21.55%, 29.91%, 34.18%, 39.83%, 35.87%, 52.30%, and in Vol. XIII a whopping 66.67%. It's enough to make one wonder whether we will run out of chestnut Lippitts, for while over the years 2 out of 3 Lippitts were chestnuts, in this last volume 2 out of 3 are bay, brown or black. Almost every black Lippitt, by the way, gets its color from Bridget #02852, all other lines being stopped by chestnuts. Now you can turn to the new Lippitt Club Directory to see if the trend towards color is
Now about percentages. I have written and article about percentages which I give to people who hire me to compute the percentage of their Morgans. Some of you have seen it, I guess. It tells among other things why there are such differences between different people's computations. What I give here are my computations which I will be glad to defend against anyone else's computations. 21 generations back a horse has over 4 million ancestors, however, and the magnitude of the task has kept the number of computers of percentages to a minimum, the number of accurate computers being of course smaller. That is not meant as a dig, only a caution about claims. The article also speaks of the reasons why percentages are important to the owner of a Morgan, though it is not unusual for people owning low percentage Morgans to scoff at them. The argument is a complex one, but I guess it can be summed up by saying that percentage is a measure of outcrossing, and what do you want, a Morgan or a Saddlebred?
We advertise the fact that our Lippitts have high percentage. No non-Lippitt comes close to the percentage of Lippitts without having a good deal of recent Lippitt blood. Half-Lippitts, of course, can be higher than the lower percentage Lippitts. Our Foundation Stock averaged 16.98% of Justin Morgan's blood; stallions 15.41, mares 17.72. The range was 9.86% to 24.31%. The first is miserably low, the second incredibly high. Remember that most of Justin Morgan's grandson's had no more than 25% and you will see what a miracle it was that a Morgan who was still producing foals in the 1920's could be almost as high. As I say in the article, this fact alone shows the
strength of Justin's blood, for such inbreeding of ordinary horse's offspring would soon have destroyed itself and no breed could result. It is difficult enough to get good produce from good stock; with bad stock it is hopeless. The horrible results gained from inbreeding many outcrossed Morgans is legendary and the reason why so many people not too knowledgeable about inbreeding are frightened of it. But one must always keep in mind that without homozygotic horses there is no breed, and without inbreeding there are no homozygotic horses. Even the Saddlebred outcrosses among the registered Morgans are becoming homozygotic, which is why some people talk of different kinds of Morgans.
The Lippitt Club was of course formed only recently so all these statistics are in part a matter of back-tracking and there is therefore the possibility of misinterpreting things. But the people who have been the backbone of Lippitt breeding in the fairly distant past, the Knights, the Kelley's, the Rices, the Treftcs and the Hilts, to mention the biggest contributors, were doing the same things before the Club was even thought of. So I don't feel embarrassed about back-tracking.
The average percentage of Lippitt horses has gone through some interesting changes through the volumes. The over-all average percentage of the 888 Lippitts since 1890 and up to Vol. XIII is 17.96%. But remarkably enough the percentage has been rising in the late volumes. From Vol. V on the averages are 16.60%, 18.29%, 18.10%, 18.18%, 17.95%, 18.23%, 18.32%, and 18.25%. What happened was that a great many low percentage horses, especially in Vol. V (lots of E. A. Darling's) were either outcrossed to lower percentage Morgans or simply not bred. Since the percentage of any horse is simply the mean between it's sire's and dam's, the extremes of the Foundation Stock rather rapidly withered away. Today the highest percentage Morgan is 19.92% and the
last Lippitts of less than 16% were registered in Vol.. XI. To get an idea of the relation between Lippitts and all other Morgans, if one has a horse of 18.75% (that's 3/16ths Justin Morgan) the horse is in the upper 24% of all 888 Lippitts, but in the upper 1/2 of 1% of all Morgans of the last 60 years or so. The average registered Morgan today seems to be somewhere around 11 or 12%, which means there are plenty with less than 9%, especially among western bred Morgans. For in the West non-Morgan mares were originally used to start Morgan herds by introducing Morgan stallions from the East which often already highly outcrossed. I have done the percentages of a thousand or so non-Lippitt Morgans so my statements cannot presume the accuracy of those regarding Lippitts, every one of which I have done. The following table showing the range of Lippitt percentage might be of interest to you. It shows the classic bell curve.
above 19.14% 64 7.20% of 888
between 18.94% and 19.14% 69 7.77%
between 18.75% and 18.94% 81 9.12% (If these percentages seem odd ones
between 18.55% and 18.75% 92 10.36% to use, the are all fractions determined
between 18.26% and 18.55% 131 14.75% by powers of 2)
between 17.96% and 18.26% 124 13.96%
between 17.57% and 17.96% 99 11.14%
between 17.18% and 17.57% 78 8.78%
between 16.40% and 17.18% 66 7.43%
below 16.40% 84 9.45% (47 of these in Vol. V alone, most not producing descendants)
One last item. One can, of course, compute not only the percentage of Justin Morgan in a Morgan, but any other ancestor as well. In the case of Lippitts perhaps the percentage of Ethan Allen 2d might be interesting. I have found that 30% of his blood in today's Lippitts is not uncommon, in fact the average seems to be in the high 20's. This indicates a higher degree of inbreeding in Morgans than even in the early 19th Century. This I think is because the number of breeders that refused to outcross was so small that the available choices within the true Morgan lines became small. Read through the volumes of the Register some day to see the number of Morgan
breeders that we honor today who diluted the breed with outcrosses. It is the exception that wanted to keep the breed intact. This narrowing of our base brings me back to the point of our rate of growth. If we think that quantity is everything and that we must convert the world to Lippitts and so expand the market that we are pressed with producing more Lippitts, we may kill the goose that laid the golden egg. We few breeders are given a heavy responsibility. All that glitters is not gold, and not all high percentage Morgans are either good horses or good Morgans. What is important is to preserve the true Morgan, to cull out what is not, to choose stallions for the correction of our mares, and lot expansion come only if it is consistent with quality.