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The Mystery of the China Morgans - page 2

The famous Morgan stallion, Magellan, at four years old. 

Click on picture to enlarge.

They left the United State on October 1 and arrived in Shanghai on October 22.  All horses arrived safely, although one Quarter Horse mare aborted.  Sadly, the Morgan stallion, Red Rex, died upon arrival when he tried to jump an iron fence in a Shanghai yard to join his stable mates.  He was badly cut on the chest and had to be put down.

It wasn’t until the following spring that the horses left Shanghai.  Seven stallions (including Magellan) and 10 mares went northwest to the Military Min-Sian Stud in Gansu Province and 4 stallions and 4 mares went southwest by airplane to the Sung-Ming Stud in Yunnan Province.  The horses that were the “New Type” and taller went to the northwest where the Chinese horses were larger.  The “Old Type” went southwest to the smaller native horses.

The largest group, including Magellan took a train to the Gansu Province with a stopover in Peiping.  In Peiping, they made an impressive sight as they were paraded through the streets, to the surprise of the people living there, to a temple compound where they stayed for a week.  After their brief say, they traveled from the temple back to the train station and were lost to history.  All official US trace of the horses imported from the States was lost in the confusion of the Chinese Revolution.

Morgan stallion Magellan is pictured here in China.

Click to enlarge.

During the Korean War, Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer, Frank “Pappy” Noel, was captured by the Communists and held prisoner for three years.  In 1954, it was nearing the time for the prisoner exchange.  He was on a work detail, eating wormy crabapples when two Chinese generals approached on a couple horses that were very different from what the prisoners were used to seeing.  They were able to give the horses their apple cores, and an orderly boasted, “We now have Mei-gwa Ma,” meaning “American Horses."

A  New Englander who was present at the time recognized the horses as Morgans.  Later, when Pappy Noel saw photos of the Morgans that went to China, he claimed that one of them was undoubtedly Magellan and the other one could have been Senator Bain.

Even if Pappy Noel was incorrect, after all, Magellan could easily have fathered sons that were of riding age by this time, at least it showed that some Morgans did make it through the chaos of the Chinese Revolution.  Unfortunately, the Quarter Horses did not.  They were brought to Yunnan Province before the revolution.  According to Xie Chengxia in “The History and Feeding Horse in China,” they were killed by the Guomindang, the losing party in the Chinese Revolution.

There was an article in a London newspaper that told of an American woman that was a defector to China.  She helped run a northern China horse farm that had Morgans.  They labeled them as “a gift from the Russian government” though knowledgeable people knew they were really Morgans from the United States.

In the early 80’s, a group of Americans went on an agricultural tour in China.  While there, they visited the Equestrian Center in Mongolia neared the town of Huhehot.  Outside that town, they toured a collective farm and saw the Sanhe Horse.  They were told that some of these horses were half Sanhe and half Morgan.

There may still be horses with Morgan blood in Gansu Province.  In 1996, “Volume One and Two Animal Industry Volume Chinese Agricultural Encyclopedia” stated that Lanzhou, in Gansu Province, has Morgans.

According to the Chinese book “Horse and Donkey Breeds,” the Morgans went to Minxian in Gansu Province and the Shandan Breeding Center.  It is unclear how long they were there.  The book did say they were later moved to Beijing Daxing County for the improvement of their local horses for peaceful uses.  It is said that there is a small amount of Morgan in the Shandan Horse and a local horse in Nong’an in Jilin Province,

According to an article published by the Gansu Agricultural University in 1981, the Morgans were crossed with the Mongolian Horse and the Yili horse.  The results were favorable, but due to moving the horses to a different location, they were unable to play their role in the breeding programs.  Once again, this article shows that they ended up near Beijing.  It states that in 1981, there were about 100 full and part blood Morgans in the outskirts of Beijing.

In the 90’s, Peter Faistauer’s career took him to China.  Mr. Faistauer, a European, is an experienced horseman.  He observed carriage horses being used on the outskirts of Beijing.  Though he had never seen a Morgan, he did recognize them from pictures that he had seen.  He asked around and found out they were being used in breeding programs around Beijing.

In his investigation, he found that in the 50’s and 60’s, the Chinese imported large numbers of Russian horses to upgrade the local stock, mainly in the military studs.  These horses included Karbardins, Ahkel-Teke, Budyonnies, Don, Soviet draft horses and Orlovs.  The Morgans, though, weren’t being used for military purposes.  They ended up in regional covering centers in the area of Beijing and Hebei Province to improve the local horses for farmers.  This is one of the reasons their numbers never grew large.

These days, though, Mr. Faistauer no longer sees Morgans pulling the carriages.  It seems they may be suffering the fate of horses in general in China.  Since the reform and the opening up of China, the number of horses used for work has decreased by the millions.

The Sanhe Horse, Xilingele Horse and Ili Horse are disappearing.  The Mongolian Horse, once numbering close to 2 million, is suffering, also.  The Mongolian horse, a direct descendant from the Asian Steppe Horse, is a very hardy, frugal and tough horse known for great endurance, but due to his size and unsuitability for modern horse sports, there is very little demand for them.  Chinese horses, developed over the centuries to survive in an environment with very harsh climate conditions and meager diets, are having trouble surviving the changing economic environment.

According to the “Report on Domestic Genetic Resources in China” from 2003, there are 23 native breeds of horses and 17 developed breeds in China.  Of them, in 1999, eight were considered endangered (between 100 and 1,000 breeding females) and three more were at risk.  Since then, the demand for native Chinese horses has decreased even more.

The Chinese people with financial means to own horses for pleasure are looking for larger horses than either the native breeds or the Morgans.

China is rapidly changing, and it is leaving the horses of Genghis Khan behind.  In the process, they are losing a very important piece of their history.  Will they see what is happening and try to save a place in their world for their historic horses and maintain their unique genetic diversity?  Or will it be too late before they realize what they have lost?  If they do try to save their horses, will a little bit of Justin Morgan’s blood enhance them as it has with so many of the horses in the United States?  Only time will answer that question.

The Morgan Horses that went to China are the following:

 1.    Magellan 8625 – purchased from the U.S. Morgan Horse Farm

 2.    Jacqueline 05404 - purchased from the U.S. Morgan Horse Farm

 3.    Ora 06320 - purchased from the U.S. Morgan Horse Farm

 4.    Red Rockwood 8775 - purchased from E. E. Gustason, Tama, Iowa

 5.    Rombob – 8775 - purchased from E. E. Gustason, Tama, Iowa

 6.    Bob R.S. 9535 - purchased from E.E. Gustason, Tama, Iowa

 7.    Rhythm Ramble 8255 - purchased from C. J. O’Neill, Manteno, Illinois

 8.    Oneill’s Champion 8862 - purchased from C. J. O’Neill, Manteno, Illinois

 9.    Senior Don 8170 - purchased from C. J. O’Neill, Manteno, Illinois

10.   Lady Louise 05836 - purchased from C. J. O’Neill, Manteno, Illinois

11.    Dolly Hudson 05833 - purchased from C. J. O’Neill, Manteno, Illinois

12.    Brown Dolly 06736 - purchased from C. J. O’Neill, Manteno, Illinois

13.    Red Rex 9321 - purchased from E. W. Roberts, Hi-Pass, California

14.    Red Lancer 9320 - purchased from E. W. Roberts, Hi-Pass, California

15.    Bethna Hudson 06750 - purchased from E. W. Roberts, Hi-Pass, California

16.    Beele Gates 06751 - purchased from E. W. Roberts, Hi-Pass, California

17.    Angelayr 05235 - purchased from E. W. Roberts, Hi-Pass, California

18.    Anayr 05327 - purchased from E. W. Roberts, Hi-Pass, California

19.    Joseayr 05425 - purchased from E. W. Roberts, Hi-Pass, California

20.    Veltayr 06067 - purchased from E. W. Roberts, Hi-Pass, California

21.    Queensea 04941- purchased from E. W. Roberts, Hi-Pass, California

22.    Ketty O 05045 - purchased from E. W. Roberts, Hi-Pass, California

23.    Senator Bain 9167 - purchased from  H. Brunk Greenwalt, Pawnee, Illinois

24.    Black Bub 9340 - purchased from T. T. Brunk, Rochester, Illinois

25.    Tiffona X05469 - purchased from J. R. Brunk, Rochester, Illinois

26.    Lady’s Man 9123 - purchased from M. O. Carlson, Lexington, Kentucky



When the author of this article, Judi Daly, contacted the LRG-AF she provided the following sterling qualifications. “I love to ride and I love to write."

We haven’t seen Judi in the saddle but we know that in addition to solving the fifty-year-old mystery of what happened to “The China Morgans,” Judi has also written two books entitled “Trail Training for the Horse and Rider” and “Trail Horse Adventures and Advice."

Judi’s books, and information regarding her equestrian trail adventures, can be seen at her website -


Click on links to view articles on the Morgan horses in China, published in The Morgan Horse Magazine in 1947 and 1948.


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