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Justin Morgan Had a Horse
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Justin Morgan Had a Horse

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  6,097 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Aladdin (first published 1945)
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Black Beauty by Anna SewellThe Black Stallion by Walter FarleyKing of the Wind by Marguerite HenryMisty of Chincoteague by Marguerite HenrySeabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
Horse Books/Novels
27th out of 852 books — 532 voters
Black Beauty by Anna SewellThe Black Stallion by Walter FarleyKing of the Wind by Marguerite HenryA Horse Called Wonder by Joanna CampbellMisty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
Best Horse Fiction
15th out of 272 books — 136 voters

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Community Reviews

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Abigail Larsen
Nov 17, 2013 Abigail Larsen rated it it was amazing
Meet Marguerite Henry, one of my favorite childhood authors. Why? Because all the stories I read by her were about horses, and like most young girls, I was horse crazy. Justin Morgan Had a Horse was her only chapter book that I remember reading through three times. I recommend it to all fellow horse-lovers out there. The trueaccount (with a fictional twist) of how the popular breed Morgan came to be in the late eighteenth century, you’ll find it inspiring and fun.

It all begins in 1791 whenlikabl
Although I very much appreciate Justin Morgan had a Horse as a story (the sweet and loving connection between Joel and Little Bub which not only endures but grows stronger and stronger over the years, that it is Joel who first notices there is something extraordinary and truly special about Justin Morgan's horse), and believe that the main message presented is necessary and of both historical and contemporary significance and value (namely that one should not judge a horse either by its perceive ...more
Aug 06, 2016 Cheryl added it
I just reread (?) the 1954 edition and it was *not* the book I remembered. So, maybe when I was a child I was fortunate enough to read the original 1945 edition, the one that is about 1/2 the length the more available one? Maybe I focused on what I saw as the strengths of the book, based on my enjoyment of other books by Henry & Dennis? I am going to try to find an original to compare the two for myself. I'd be willing to bet the older is better. Even the artwork of this newer book seems coa ...more
Abigail Wallace
Jul 15, 2014 Abigail Wallace rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
I never was a horse crazy girl, but I loved Misty of Chincoteague even still. MISTY is Marguerite Henry's best known horse novel. When I stumbled over this one last month, looking for a good read aloud for my 7 and 9 year old sons, it was a no-brainer! With the high drama of horse, his boy and their nation coming of age, not to mention thrilling horseraces and backbreaking hard work complete with both heartache and happy endings, JUSTIN MORGAN did not disappoint! All that in 170 pages. JUSTIN MO ...more
Oct 23, 2015 Tarissa rated it really liked it
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
Aug 09, 2016 Karol rated it really liked it
I loved the story of one young man's devotion to both Justin Morgan and his remarkable horse.
Aug 08, 2016 Jenny rated it liked it
I liked but didn't love this story. I appreciated Joel's concern, love and dedication toward Little Bub. The story was interesting but didn't fully draw me in.
A wonderful, touching horse story that I somehow missed reading in my preteen and early teen horse loving years. The relationship between Joel and Lil Bub was very special, and this book was all the more enjoyable because it is basically a true story about the horse that founded the Morgan horse breed.
Feb 06, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
We read this book as part of our American History studies this year. It takes place just after the Revolution and covers several more years on past the War of 1812. My kids really enjoyed it but then we haven't read a Marguerite Henry book that they didn't love.
This book, Justin Morgan Had A Horse, is a classic tale about Justin Morgan, the founder of a great American breed of horse. It all started because a farmer owed Justin some money. The farmer couldn't pay the debt, so instead, he gave him two horses. One large horse was named Ebenezer and the little runt was Lil Bub. Once they arrived back in Vermont, Justin Morgan sold Ebenezer and kept Lil Bub for Joel. Joel Goss was a young boy and one of Justin’s students. Justin had asked him to break the c ...more
Michael Fitzgerald
This is the original 1945 edition (89 pages). This version (not the expanded rewrite from 1954) was the Newbery honor book. The illustrations are well done, and they suit the book perfectly.
We love
Dec 21, 2015 We love rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a
My oldest just LOVED this title! :)
Kate Schwarz
Jun 15, 2014 Kate Schwarz rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery
Reading a book about horses by the one and only Marguerite Henry with beautiful illustrations by Wesley Dennis…it just makes my heart go back to a happy place, to my horsey childhood.

This is a great piece of historical fiction about how the Justin Morgan horse came about. It's a story of one strong-willed boy and one strong-willed colt. What I like about it for a children's book is that the Justin Morgan horse is barely a horse--it is really a pony. But it is strong and fast and has a sweet disp
Laura Verret
Justin Morgan didn’t really want a horse. What he wanted was cash to pay for his doctor’s bills. But his friend, Farmer Beane, has nothing else to give him as payment for the loan Justin generously gave him. So Justin accepts it. Joel, a student who has been traveling with Justin, is tickled when Farmer Beane throws in a scrawny little colt as part of the bargain.

But Joel’s father won’t let Joel keep Little Bub, as he calls the horse. Justin Morgan lets him gentle Little Bub, but then rents him
May 10, 2012 Lucinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was like opening a door onto the past and descovering the history of a breed from the eyes of the very first foundling Sire, back at the beginning of all things. This story came to me from America, travelling a great distance like the adventure that this one little colt went on all those years ago. The most famous of the American breeds; the Morgan, is brought vividly to life in this charming childrens tale that is a national treasure of a horse/ pony story. The book may be des ...more
Rachel R
Sep 16, 2012 Rachel R rated it it was amazing
Justin Morgan was broke. He got two horses from a man named Farmer Beane who owed a debt. Justin sold the oldest horse, Ebenezer, and kept short and stubby Little Bub because no one wanted him. Joel, Justin Morgan's student, took Little Bub and trained him as the first Morgan horse. This book took place in Vermont, which is a New England state.

This book is like me because I would be willing to find an animal that no one wanted and take care of it. Also I would love to own a horse like Joel's hor
April Brown
Oct 16, 2011 April Brown rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, pre-teen
A childhood favorite re-visited.

Is the story as good as I remember? – Yes

What ages would I recommend it too? – All ages. Children will enjoy the single storyline; while adults enjoy an easy afternoon read (especially while waiting on a bus, show, doctor, or other appointments).

Length? – Reasonable for an afternoon.

Characters? – Memorable, and few enough that you won’t forget who is who.

Setting? – Real world, even includes President James Monroe.

Written approximately? – 1954.

Does the story leave

I must be romping through my second childhood because I still love this classic equine tale about the founder of a truly American breed of horse. I enjoyed it now just as much as when I was young; Henry's story holds up with successive readings since the human emotions are sincere, and the dramatic events are true. The young protagonist, Joel, has a passion for horses; as a young man he dreams of finding his beloved, Lil Bub, the first Morgan colt whom no one wanted.
Even mor
Jane Irish Nelson
Feb 15, 2016 Jane Irish Nelson rated it really liked it
Shelves: childen-s, historical
Fictional account of the origin of the first Morgan horse, a small colt accidentally acquired by a schoolmaster named Justin Morgan, and gentled by his pupil, Joel Goss. From the first moment Joel met Little Bub, his one dream in life was to one day own the horse.

Recommended to fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series; it is Almanzo's Morgan horses that first attract Laura's attention, and one of the reasons I wanted to read this book.
Esther May
Jun 30, 2016 Esther May rated it really liked it
I am so happy to finally have read a book by Marguerite Henry. I know her Misty series is more popular and I will someday get to that. I loved this book set in the time period during the war of 1812. I am not a horse person, but I am raising a horse person, so I am trying to read some stories that have horses. This is a great story about determination, friendship, not assuming and love. And it made me want to be a horse person.
Jun 19, 2010 Phoebe rated it really liked it
Though a bit old fashioned, this is an interesting story based on fact. A Vermont schoolmaster, Justin Morgan, looks to settle some debts, so along with his young student Joel Goss, travels to a farmer friend to seek some money owed him. The farmer offers him two horses, in lieu of money, and Joel and the colt Little Bub become fast friends. The story follows the close but separate lives of Joel, serving an apprenticeship, and Little Bub, who doesn't look like much but is an amazingly intelligen ...more
Thomas Bell
Aug 05, 2015 Thomas Bell rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-honors
I thought it was good. The story started off pretty slow. Justin Morgan is a teacher, and he acquires a couple of horses while traveling with a young man named Joel. One of the horses is worth a lot, and the other is too small.

After a while, it turns out the small horse is worth a lot more - it has strength, speed and intelligence. When Justin Morgan dies, the horse is named after him, and now his descendants are considered one of the first American breeds of horse.

Anyway, the story is well-writ
Jun 06, 2015 Joy rated it really liked it
Another Henry horse book to enjoy. The setting for this was New England in the early 1800s. There was the one room school house where the teacher boarded with a local family. There was information on early apprenticeships. But mainly there was a boy who loved a horse and did everything he could to own it.
Nov 05, 2014 Leah rated it it was amazing
This horse tale by Marguerite Henry is lovely. It is about a young horse and a boy named joel. This horse is the father of the Morgan breed and the story weaves historical fiction with a touching story of a boy and his horse. The illustrations are great and help tell the story.

Recommended age 9-13
Reading Level 4th -6th grade
Nov 18, 2013 Theresa rated it really liked it
The back says a true story, which if it is added a lot of interest for me. It was written for I'd say 9-12s so they didn't add a lot of detail, but the story was making me believe that this was where the title morgan came from for this breed of horse, and yet they ended it not knowing who the sire and dam was of Little Bub.

Once again, I found story of long ago where parents were cruel and it makes me wonder why it took so long for things to change. I cannot stand to read characters like that and
Sep 18, 2007 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horse lovers
Shelves: animals
I know I read this book, but I can't remember when exactly. I loved learning about how the Morgan horse came to be since I grew up for the first 10 years of my life at the racetrack watching my father train Thoroughbreds. I was obsessed with horses from a yound age and read any horse related book I could get my hands on. I saw "The Black Stallion" more times than I can recall and wished I could find an awesome black horse to call my own. I made my parents take me to the University of Vermont's M ...more
Angela Hansen
Jan 28, 2016 Angela Hansen rated it liked it
We read this book for our family bookclub. It was really cute. I love the point of the story. Just because someone is small doesn't mean they aren't smart or can't do something. The kids loved it also.
Loved this one as a kid, especially when all horse books had that certain appeal. I think this is also where I first learned about indentured servitude ("Seven years! Seven years!").
Missy Cunningham
Great love story of a boy and his horse. It just happens to be a very famous horse. I own a registered Morgan and everything they say in the book is true about Morgans! Wonderful hearty breed of a horse who choose his owner. Loyal and loving. Great story.
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Marguerite Henry (April 13, 1902-November 26, 1997) was an American writer. The author of fifty-nine books based on true stories of horses and other animals, her work has captivated entire generations of children and young adults and won several Newbery Awards and Honors. Among the more famous of her works was Misty of Chincoteague, which was the basis for the 1961 movie Misty, and several sequel ...more
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