Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Justin Morgan Had a Horse

Justin Morgan Had a Horse

4.5 16
by Marguerite Henry

See All Formats & Editions

Joel's face suddenly lit up as if he had thought of something for the first time. He spoke now to the horse, as though he were the one that mattered. "Why, come to think of it, you're just like us, Bub. You're American! That's what you are. American!"

In 1791 a Vermont schoolmaster by the name of Justin Morgan comes home with a


Joel's face suddenly lit up as if he had thought of something for the first time. He spoke now to the horse, as though he were the one that mattered. "Why, come to think of it, you're just like us, Bub. You're American! That's what you are. American!"

In 1791 a Vermont schoolmaster by the name of Justin Morgan comes home with a two-year-old colt named Little Bub. Taken as payment for an outstanding debt, the little colt doesn't seem like he is worth much, but the kindly teacher asks one of his students, Joel Goss, to train him. Joel knows the horse has great potential, and soon word about Little Bub spreads throughout the entire Northeast for his ability to outwork, outrun, outtrot, and outwalk any horse in the area.

This is the extraordinary tale of a little workhorse, who, after being born in obscurity, becomes one of the greatest breeding stallions of all time. In this true story Newbery Medal-winning author Marguerite Henry and artist Wesley Dennis celebrate the life of the only horse ever to establish a breed all by himself -- the Morgan.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A thing of beauty in every respect and a treasured addition to the home library."

Washington Post

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Age Range:
7 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Justin Morgan Had a Horse

By Marguerite Henry

Rebound by Sagebrush

Copyright © 1991 Marguerite Henry
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780785750246

Wearily, wearily the man's steps dragged. As he reached the fence, he rested his arms on the top rail and his whole body seemed to go limp. The boy leaned against the fence too, but not from weariness. His was an urgent desire to get close to the colts. The boy's blue linsey-woolsey shirt was faded and torn, and his breeches, held up by a strip of cowhide, were gray with dust. His stubbly hair was straw-colored, like a cut-over field of wheat. Everything about him looked dry and parched. Everything except his eyes. They peered over the fence with a lively look, and his tongue wet his dry lips.

"You!" he said with a quick catch of his breath, as the littler colt came over and gazed curious-eyed at him. "I could gentle you, I could."

The man sighed. "We're here at last, Joel. We can put our bundles down and rest a spell before we see if Farmer Beane's at home."

The boy had not heard. He just stood on tiptoe, holding his bundle and gaping at the colts as if he had never seen their like before. "That little one..." he whispered.

Just then a door slammed shut, and from the house beyond the meadow a farmer in his working clothes started down a footpath toward them. "How-de-do!" he called out as he came closer. Two rods from them, he shaded his eyes and stared intently.

With awhistle of surprise he stopped in his tracks. "Great jumping jehoshaphat!" he shouted. "If it ain't Justin Morgan, schoolmaster and singing teacher! Why, I'm as pleasured to see you as a dog with two tails." He set down a bucket he was carrying and shook hands across the fence. "Who's the fledgling you got with you?" he asked, pointing a thumb toward the boy.

"This lad is Joel Goss, one of my scholars. I board with his parents," the schoolmaster explained. "And when I mentioned that I'd be going off on a junket till school starts, I could see he wanted to traipse along. Joel," he said, putting his hand on the boy's shoulder, "I'd like you to meet Farmer Beane, an old neighbor of mine."

Reluctantly Joel turned from the colts to face the farmer. He had never been introduced before. It made him blush to the roots of his sunburnt hair.

"Cat got your tongue, boy?" the farmer said, not unkindly. "Or be you smitten on the colts?" And without waiting for an answer, he popped more questions. "Where in tarnation you two come from? You hain't come all the ways from Randolph, Vermont, to Springfield, Massachusetts, be you?"

Justin Morgan nodded.

"Sakes alive! You must be all tuckered out. Why, even as the crow flies, it's over a hundred mile down here. You didn't walk the hull way, I hope."

The schoolmaster took off his hat and ran his fingers through graying hair. "Yes, Abner; that is, most all the way, except when Lem Tubbs and his team of oxen gave us a short haul into Chicopee."

"Well, gosh all fishhooks, let's not stand here a-gabbin'. Come in, come in! The woman'll give us hot cakes and tea. I'll bet Joel here could do with some vittles. He's skinny as a fiddle string. Come in, and by and by we can chat."

All during the conversation the colts had been inching closer and closer to Farmer Beane. Now they were nipping at his sleeves and snuffing his pockets.

"These tarnal critters love to be the hull show," chuckled the farmer, reaching into his pockets. "If I don't bring 'em their maple sugar, the day 'jus don't seem right to them. Nor to me, neither."

Justin Morgan steadied himself against the fence. "Abner," he said, "before Joel and I sit down to your table, it seems I should tell you why I've come." He paused, nervously drumming the top rail for courage. After a while he looked up and his glance went beyond the meadow and the rolling hills. "I've come," he swallowed hard, "because I've a need for the money you owed me when I moved away to Vermont."

There was a moment of silence. It was so still that the colts munching their sugar seemed to be very noisy about it. Joel thought of the bright red apple he had eaten last night. He wished now that he had saved it for them.

It was a long time before the farmer could answer. Then he said, "You've come a terrible long way, Justin, and 'tis hard for me to disappoint you. But me and the woman have had nothin' but trouble." He began counting off his troubles on his fingers: "Last year, my cows got in the cornfield and et theirselves sick and died; year afore that, the corn was too burned to harvest; year afore that, our house caught afire. I just hain't got the money."

Master Morgan's shoulders slumped until his homespun coat looked big and loose, as if it had been made for someone else. "I'd set great store on getting the money," he said. "I've got doctor bills to pay and..." He took a breath. "For years I've been hankering to buy a harpsichord for my singing class."

There! The words were out. He spanked the dust from his hat, then put it back on his head and forced a little smile. "Don't be taking it so hard, Abner. I reckon my pitch pipe can do me to the end of my days." His voice dropped. "And maybe that won't be long; I feel my years too much."

The farmer pursed his lips in thought. "Justin," he said, "I ain't a man to be beholden to anyone. Would you take a colt instead of cash?"


Excerpted from Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry Copyright © 1991 by Marguerite Henry. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Marguerite Henry was the beloved author of such classic horse stories as King of the Wind, Misty of Chincoteague, and Stormy: Misty’s Foal, all of which are available in Aladdin paperback editions.

Wesley Dennis was best known for his illustrations in collaboration with author Marguerite Henry. They published sixteen books together.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Justin Morgan Had a Horse 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
If you went to Vermont, back in the time of the late 1700s... you would meet Justin Morgan. He was a man who had a problem. It all started because a farmer owed Justin some money. The farmer couldn't pay the debt, so instead, he gave a horse. To some people, that would be a wonderful thing to receive, but Justin didn't need a horse. He needed money. One might say, "Sell the horse"--but that's just the problem. No one wants to use their money on a small, (VERY small), scrawny animal, who is weak and cannot work like other horses. Since no one will buy poor Little Bub, Justin is indeed stuck with him. See what can happen that turns this story upside-down when Justin Morgan's friend decides to help out. Why, even President Monroe takes notice! This book tells a true story. I liked the book because while I was reading it, I knew that it actually happened. In fact, Little Bub's tale became an American legend. This is a delightful horse story, great for boys & girls to read (ages 9 and up).
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
Justin Morgan's main claim to fame in history has been as the owner of an unusual "runt" work horse raised in Vermont and originally known as "Little Bub" which became the sire of a famous American breed of horse named after its first owner, the Morgan horse. However, Justin Morgan was not a horse breeder. He was an early American school teacher, singing master, and composer. Those of us who are familiar with American concert music may be acquainted with a piece called "Fantasy for Double String Orchestra on a Hymn Tune of Justin Morgan" by Thomas Canning which is based on "Amanda," a hymn tune composed by Justin Morgan. The book tells the story of how Morgan, with his young friend and student Joel Goss, goes from Randolph, VT, to Springfield, MA, in 1795 because Farmer Beane owes him some money that he needs. Farmer Beane cannot pay, but he gives Morgan a fine steed named Ebenezer instead. Little Bub seems to want to go with Ebenezer, so Farmer Beane throws him in the deal as well. However, the main character of the book is not Morgan but Joel, who gentles Little Bub for Morgan, watches the horse outpull and outrace other horses while being rented out to a local farmer, and then tries to buy him at an auction after Morgan's death. Unfortunately, he does not have enough money, and Bub is purchased by the local carpenter but is then sold very quickly to someone else who takes him away. Joel looks for Bub while an apprentice at Miller Chase's inn, searches for the horse while fighting during the War of 1812, and continues to think about him after becoming an adult and a partner of Miller Chase. But will he ever see the horse again? Marguerite Henry has written several good horse stories. We have read her series beginning with Misty of Chincoteague (a 1948 Newbery Honor book) and also her Newbery Award winning King of the Wind. Justin Morgan Had a Horse was a Newbery Honor book in 1946. We did this as a family read aloud, and everyone enjoyed it.
MsBookWorm2 More than 1 year ago
This book is about the beginning of the only truly American horse, and he is a winner. The book is suitable for students in grades 4 through 7. Youngsters' lives during that era are described beautifully. Apprenticeships are discussed. Author, Marguerite Henry's vocabulary is challenging --not dumbed down. Readers will enhance their vocabulary, leading to better writing skills. As a Reading specialist and teacher, I used this book w/ many reading groups and the students enjoyed it. The copy I just purchased is for my grandson as I want him to be exposed to quality content and have the fun of reading a very interesting story. MsBookWorm2
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!! Definate for all horse lovers!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The friendship between man and horse is clearaly stated in this great novel. The story is amusing, yet sophistiacted, cabable of being read by a person of any age. Anyone who loves a fun horse book will surely enjoy this tale!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love horses oh ya
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So far, so great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really think this book was very interesting, I do not have a negative thing to say towards it and that is the reason I rated it a 5, if there were higher rate I would have to say infinity. Thank You
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If ur a horse lover please return
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love justin
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago