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Equine Death
Courage of Equinox

Posted January 3, 2002
Last October, the Morgan breed mourned the passing of its most prolific sire since the original Justin Morgan. Courage of Equinox was 29 and had completed another successful breeding season when he died peacefully at East of Equinox Farm in Manchester, Vermont.

With 357 offspring currently registered with the American Morgan Horse Association, Courage has more offspring than any other Morgan sire. This number does not include 2001 and 2002 offspring not yet registered nor offspring in the Canadian, British, and Swedish registries.

The career of Courage began when breeder Orrin Beattie was in search of a herd sire that would add size, length of neck and impulsion yet retain and reinforce the good qualities of his Morgan brood mares. It also had to be bay or black. He was directed to a colt bred by Edna Avery of Ledyard, Connecticut, but the colt had a couple of strikes against him. He was chestnut and from a sire line which did not appeal to Beattie. However, the exceptional colt met his standards on every other level so well that he purchased the three-month-old for $3,500, a generous sum at the time for a weanling.

Beattie considered never standing Courage to the public because he was purchased specifically to breed to the Equinox mares. That didn't take long to change. Word spread quickly of this unusual stallion in the hills, and since Courage wasn't going to come to the world, the world came to Courage. When Beattie died in 1978, six-year old Courage's offspring were already known for their achievements in the show ring. Courage remained at East of Equinox as Orrin's son Ivan took over the farm and guided Courage's breeding career for the next 23 years.

When he was 12, Courage became the youngest sire to ever top the Morgan Sire Rating and has continued in the top 10 in every rating since.

In 1985 he set a record that stood for more than 15 years, when a single stud service sold at the AMHA Stallion Service Auction for $27,000.

In 1989 he became the first stallion to simultaneously stand at stud in the U.S., Canada, England, and continental Europe through artificial insemination. In 1990, he produced the first foal ever conceived by frozen semen in England, and shipped so well this way that by 1996 he had offspring in the U.S., Canada, England, Sweden, Germany, and Holland through this technology. In fact, Courage is one of the few elite non-Swedish stallions to be approved by the stringent guidelines of the Swedish government.

In 1997, Courage broke Tedwin Topic's record of 304 registered offspring to become the Morgan breed's most prolific sire.

The Courage of Equinox offspring created a new look and a new standard for the Morgan show and sport horse. Indeed, they define Morgan versatility. They have won more regional, national, European, and Morgan World Championships, in more disciplines, than the get of any other stallion. They love to drive, making winning carriage and CDE competitors. They are successful in the dressage ring and the working western arenas, while others have made great roadsters. In the traditional arenas of the show ring, Courage offspring have won national titles in the park, English pleasure, pleasure driving, in-hand, hunter pleasure, western pleasure, equitation, classic pleasure, and trail divisions. But more importantly, his offspring not only compete successfully, they pass their excellence on. Courage offspring have formed the foundation of many Morgan breeding programs. While many stallions gain their fame for producing either successful breeding mares or stallions, the offspring of Courage produce equally well in both genders.

Remarkably, Courage was shown only once in his lifetime. In 1982 Ivan led Courage in the Sire and Get class at the New England Regional Championship. Many did not want him shown for fear he would be beaten by the three-time winner, Royal Fleetson. However, Ivan could not be dissuaded and Courage made his appearance before the sell-out crowd, followed by his daughters Isadora, Miss Breezy Courage, Equinox Georgia Kate, and Equinox Ladybug. He did indeed take second and bedlam followed, including one spectator who is reported to have leapt the fence to haggle the judge with a waving index finger. Courage had that effect on people.

Courage of Equinox bred a full book of mares in 2001, and died the same way he lived, with dignity and on his own terms. Ivan commented, "I was never really in charge of Courage's destiny, he was bigger than that. I was simply the custodian. My father never got to see Courage achieve all this fame and notoriety, but once this summer as I was riding Courage through the hills of the farm I got this overwhelming feeling that somehow, he knows. The man and his horse are united once again."

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