Gary’s love for horses began at a very early age, in fact, I remember him always carrying on about riding horses before he was even born. He had a picture somewhere of his mom on a horse while she was pregnant with him; it was one if his favorite things to boast about. The first horse Gary had ever ridden (by himself) was at 1 year old, and he was on a little paint pony. Gary then saved his money as a teenager and was able to purchase his first horse at the age of 16, she was a Western Broomtail.

Upon graduation in 1959, Gary went to work on Mackinac Island for the summer and took a job at the Chicago Riding Stable, owned by Mr. Robert Bailey. Standing in Mr.

Gary & his first horse - 1957

Photo Courtesy: Blue Spruce Morgan Farm

Personal Collection

Bailey’s stable were 4 Morgan horses; one stallion and three mares. “Christian Geddes” was Mr. Bailey’s stallion, which he rode or drove daily, the 3 mares were named Lenette, Dolly Mar-Lo, and Zephyr. Mr. Bailey let friends of his ride the 3 mares, but no one handled that stallion except Mr. Bailey himself. Christian Geddes was a chestnut, short coupled, and about 14.1 hands. He had a lot of fire and a bold way of going when under saddle or between the shafts of a cart. He turned the heads of anyone he passed and won the hearts of many horse lovers on the Island, including Gary’s.

It was 1962 when Gary truly discovered his love for the Morgan breed. While living in Niagara, Wisconsin, Gary was introduced to the McVanes by his veterinarian. They needed their 6-year-old Morgan stallion broke to ride and drive. Upon visiting the farm, Gary’s eyes fell upon the young stallion and he was in awe. This stallion was Moro Hills Magician. He was a mahogany bay with a lot of hair, a long full

Moro Hills Magician

Photo Courtesy: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/389913280237117334/

tail and mane, and a foretop that extended past

his nostrils. His eyes were big and dark and would draw you in. His head was held high and proud, making his appearance look taller than he actually was.

After agreeing to train Magician, he was loaded into the trailer and they were headed back to the farm. After the first two weeks, the McVanes came out to the farm and were already able to both ride and drive this stallion. They could not believe what he had learned in such a short amount of time. Gary said Magician also taught him very much during those two weeks; “There are horses, and then there are Morgan horses”. At that time, Gary knew nothing in particular about the Lippitt Morgans, but that changed shortly after.

Gary had made arrangements to visit the Moro Hill Breeding farm in Silver Lake, Wisconsin. Upon arrival, Gary was greeted by Chester Treftc and was then introduced to his family of Morgans. There were two horses in a paddock which were Dyberry Ethan and his “soul mate”, Alrita. Gary was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of those two horses. After chatting with Chester for a while, Gary could see his love for the Morgans and had asked him if he could purchase one of his foals; Chester insisted that Gary saw the rest of the horses before making a decision.

 

While walking around the farm, Chester began to explain what it was that made those little horses so different from all of the others. “Look at their compactness, see the depth of the body, see how the neck sets on the shoulder and that they look nothing like a quarter horses like a potato on the end of toothpicks. Watch that mare trotting, with the soles of her feet to the sun, how her hind foot lands exactly where the front one left the ground, that’s called tracking. See how short the cannon bone is compared to the forearm, look at the width between her front legs, the roundness of her hoof, the width between the eyes; more room for brain. Notice how her head is well chiseled and forms a “V” from the front view and the side. When you measure a horse by hands, you must measure the horse as a whole by hands. Put your fist between her jowls and see if it fits, look at the short back, that trait comes from the Arabian; these mares all have five lumbar vertebrae”. This was everything that Gary was able to remember of how Chester described the Lippitt Morgan to him. Gary remembered thinking to himself, “What is this man trying to do to me, I’m never going to remember all of this…” At this point, Gary had just met Lippitt Royal Margarita, Lippitt Rita Roy, Lippitt Gay Lockett, Moro Hills Morine, and a few foals.

 

Heading back to the barn, Chester said to Gary, “Wait right here”, and disappeared into a stall. Upon returning, Chester had in his hand a stallion wearing a white halter, this was Moro Hills Prophet. As Chet explained his breeding to Gary, Gary said he had to act like a sponge to try and absorb everything he could that Chet was telling him, all while trying to keep his eyes off of that stallion.

 

In 1963, Gary was again, at the Moro Hill farm and found himself in the stall with Lippitt Royal Margarita and her new foal, Moro Hills Mariner. After spending some time with them, Gary knew this was the foal he wanted. Gary then stormed into the house and told Chet that Mariner was the one he wanted. Like every time prior that Gary had asked to purchase one of Chet’s horses, he always replied “We’ll see.” Chet then also asked Gary to do him a favor, to go to an Arabian farm and look at a colt that the stallion, Gazzon, had sired and then if he still at that point wanted to raise Lippitt Morgans to come back to the farm and they will talk again. Gary was very impressed by the Arabians at this farm, but he said it wasn’t the same kind of excitement he had when seeing the Morgans.

 

Gary returned to the Moro Hill farm and was greeted by Chet as he was pulling up the driveway. Chet had asked him what he had though of them, Gary just replied, “Can I buy Mariner?” Chet finally said yes, and at that moment, Gary’s journey finally began.

 

Gary riding Moro Hills Mariner with Moro Hills Momosa Riverton WY 1989.

Photo Courtesy: Blue Spruce Morgan Farm Personal Collection


Throughout Gary’s years of breeding the Lippitt Morgan, he has never once forgot or list sight of what Chester had taught and showed him. After Chet’s death, Barbara became Gary’s mentor. Gary said, “Barbara is a true friend in every sense of the work and is always taking the time to encourage me along the way. I owe what I have to the founders of the Moro Hill Breeding program. Chester and Barbara Treftc have stood by their convictions and never waivered. They instilled into me, the desire to produce the original type Morgan horse, and add what I can to preserve the genetic pool of the Lippitt Morgan Horse.

Gary riding Moro Hills Mariner with Moro Hills Momosa Riverton WY 1989.

Photo Courtesy: Blue Spruce Morgan Farm

Personal Collection

In Gary’s many years in the world of Lippitt Morgans, he put over 40 full Lippitts on the ground. Although Blue Spruce Morgan Farm takes great delight in owning these incredible animals, we cannot take credit for the magnificent foundation we were so blessed to begin with. Moro Hill Morgan Farm had spent over 50 years devoting their lives to producing Morgan horses that truly represent the “Old Type”. As Chet put together his Lippitt herd, he was careful in choosing his foundation stock. He had spent months with Robert Lippitt Knight and Dr. Parks and travelled several farms in the New England region taking photos and videos of Lippitts. Chet educated himself as to what Morgan type should be. Even though he was alienated and criticized by other Morgan breeders and owners, he never wavered – he always stood his ground towards his dedication to the Lippitt Morgan horse.

 

Gary stated, “Only breeders can save the Lippitt bred Morgan from extinction. Let us not allow the original Morgan horse to die. Breeders take stock in what you are breeding so this little horse will be saved for future generations to enjoy. Once gone, never to return, oh what a loss that would be to the horse world.”

Blue Spruce Morgans

Crystal Falls, MI

Phone: 906-458-1391

            906-282-7753

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