Snake River Morgan
ILR # 61449
female b. 8-17-1987 ... d. 8-26-2008
Black Tar x Sophia
Morgan stood 43" at the withers and tended to run in the 275 lb range, and she also had excellent muscling and a bold approach to exploration — all traits we look for in our quest for the exceptional working llama. Although Morgan wasn't one to attach to humans (thanks to her hands-off upbringing followed by years in a large herd), Morgan and Gwen developed a special affinity for each other.
We acquired Morgan because we were impressed with her daughter Dallys, but also because we liked Morgan herself. What we didn't know was that we were acquiring a multi-faceted education rather than exceptional breeding stock.
First came the efforts to resolve Morgan's advancing skin condition — extreme hair loss and "elephantine" skin on the short-haired portions of her body. All our efforts were for naught (other than lining the pocketbooks of others); only after many years did we realize, through grandson Shuksan, that the condition is either partially or entirely genetic with variable expression depending on pigment density (the darker the pigment, the worse the skin condition).
After determining that treatment was getting everyone nowhere, we finally bred Morgan for what turned out to be her final offspring, Taiga. We then learned that Morgan would allow her offspring to nurse indefinitely. Much later, we found out that daughter Dallys and granddaughter Finys did exactly the same thing. This, it turned out, is more than a quirk or inconvenience — it resulted in lost pregnancies (for both Morgan and Finys), and a serious systemic calcium deficit (documented by OSU-VTH labs for both Morgan and Dallys) that contributed to Dallys's death.
Because both of these traits are "not discussed" by the llama business world, it took us much, MUCH longer than we would have liked to understand the heritable nature of these problematic traits, and to subsequently realize that this branch of the gene pool — despite all the other positive attributes — needed to be shut down (which we have since done to the best of our abilities — unfortunately, two remain out of our control).
Regardless of Morgan's genetic flaws, she herself was a wonderful friend, and she enjoyed living with us until the end. Morgan enjoyed grain, observing just about everything, and having humans who were not repulsed by her appearance, even giving her hugs without a second thought.
Morgan came to us as "Black Lace", which didn't really fit her or appeal to us (and reminding some of, um, a less than honorable profession). "Morgan", evoking the strength, balance, muscling, and sensible mid-range size of the Morgan horse, seemd a better fit. Morgan liked her new name very much.