Open Barn Days are held twice a year, in the spring and the fall, at the McCulloch Farm, which is located in Old Lyme. An unstructured weekend that allows visitors of all ages to get personal and up-close encounters with Morgan horses and foals draws crowds of people of all ages. The horses are either free to run around in the ring and display their talents, or they are led by children over a series of obstacles. People are welcome to come into the stable and pet the horses as well as get a closer look at them.
This event has been held annually for over thirty years, and it is free and open to the public. The young horses known as foals are born in the spring. The number of newborn foals is determined by several factors: the number of mares that give birth during a given year, the number of mares that carry foals throughout the entire year, the number of mares that are sold, and whether or not a new pregnant mare is purchased. After the fall Open Barn event, they will be up for sale as long as they are in a ready-to-go condition at that time. This year, a total of six foals were born, one of which was less than a week old during the spring Open Barn but was eager to meet and greet the crowds of people who were interested in them.
There are a total of eight horses on the farm, and all but two of them are of Whippoorwill breeding. There have been Whippoorwills in some families for as many as eight or nine generations. Everyone eventually makes their way back to Whippoorwill Duke. As a result of being selectively bred for a pleasant disposition, soundness, and genuine Morgan character as well as athletic ability, Whippoorwill foals are all very similar to one another.
Since the 1940s, Mary Jean Vasiloff has been engaged in the breeding of Whippoorwill Morgans. They are renowned for their kind demeanor, uniformity, versatility in which they are both willing and able, as well as their superior feet and legs. They are the epitome of what it means to be a Morgan.
The grandson of Jubilee King, Squire Burger, was McCulloch Farm’s foundation sire. He was also the farm’s namesake. The exceptional temperaments, feet and legs, long shoulders that are set far back into the body, long and smooth powerful hindquarters, fine length of neck, and remarkable intelligence of the Morgans were inherited from their ancestor Squire the Whippoorwill. Out of a mare named Diana Mansfield, Squire was responsible for producing Mary Jean’s very own herd sire, Whippoorwill Duke. After that, Duke was responsible for the birth of almost one hundred Morgans.
Whippoorwill Melody was also produced by Squire, and she was sired by a mare named Locket. Following their marriage, Duke and Melody were responsible for the birth of several notable Morgans.
McCulloch Farm’s breeding program makes use of related stations and mares in order to concentrate and bolster the characteristics of the two foundation Morgans, Jubilee King and Knox Morgan. In addition to this, they use other successful show families who are known to pass on outstanding traits to subsequent generations.
Their preference for maintaining their lineage does not constitute inbreeding. Inbreeding can concentrate both positive and negative traits in offspring. It is necessary to use outcrosses in order to bring desirable characteristics into any bloodline, and these must be carefully selected. Only the most desirable offspring of outcrosses are kept and bred by them. Therefore, the family trees of Jubilee King and Knox Morgan, primarily descended from Squire Burger, continue to be intertwined time and time again.
The end result is high-quality Morgans with a traditional look and feel, the likes of which even Justin Morgan would acknowledge as legitimate descendants of his own great sire.
The weanlings are handled carefully and examined so that their new owners will have an idea of what to anticipate from them. Whippoorwill Morgans are increasingly being used for polo ponies, ranch horses, and police horses. They have won state championships, regional championships, and national championships in show driving, western pleasure driving, and saddle seat driving respectively.
They have a history of being some of the best mounts for 4-H equitation and hunter/jumper competitions. They have since gone on to become known as Grand National Champion reining as well as Open Competition Champions in combined driving, carriage driving, dressage, and hunter pacing. Because of their adaptability, Morgan horses consistently place first in a variety of competitions and have also been shown to be the most effective workhorses. However, above all else, Morgans make the best companion animals.
At McCulloch Farm, an event known as Open Barn takes place twice a year, in the spring and the fall. On September 10 and 11, in addition to the Versatility Event, there will be a celebration of the fact that McCulloch Farm has been breeding animals for the past 60 years. Old Lyme is home to the farm, which can be found at 100 Whippoorwill Road. They are happy to have guests at any time, but request that you call ahead to make arrangements at (860) 434-7355.
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