We live in a fast paced world of “I want it … and I want it now”. If a guy cannot “train” a horse in 30 days or “finish” a horse in 90 days, people tend to frown. And that might be just fine for some folks – but it is not the way it works around here. If you are not willing to spend 10 minutes reading this, just hit “back” or “X” – no offense taken.
My Personal Tradition

On my dad’s side I am going back to Prussian cavalry officers. My dad as a master sergeant used a team of horse to get around in Russian winters. On my mom’s side I am going back to lower level German earls. Most of them had horses – though you sure could not tell by my mom. She eventually made friends (the first time) with a big Quarter Horse gelding I had.

As far as horses go, I learned to drive a team as a six-year-old kid on a little farm in Germany. I later took formal riding lessons and was around horses as much as I could. Two summers in Ireland taught me, how horses were trained as Hunt Master Horses. When I moved to the US, I blended what I knew with what I learned from some old true cowboys. When I was introduced to Morgans, I soon learned that “ask, not demand” was the way to go.

The Morgan Tradition

No other breed originating in this country goes back more than 200 years. The Morgan horse was the most versatile “use horse” for many years – and had a great part in opening the West – pulling stage coaches and prairie schooners or carrying cavalry officers for endless miles.

Then came the time of the big cattle ranches breeding enduring work horses for their huge outfits – mostly Morgans. Names like Sellman, Hill, LU Sheep and Cattle and still Jackson are associated with this.

Not always was this stock registered even if it would have qualified. Here in Northern AZ a lot of ranch horses still have Morgan blood in them going back to a stallion by the name “California Allen” – or “California Red” as he was called. As Ray Ordway puts it in his Vaquero tradition, “The best horses all had some Morgan blood in them.”

We do not use horses for making a living any more – but the tradition of the old Morgan horse is still alive.

The Vaquero Tradition

Horses have been used and trained for thousands of years – and every time someone comes up with a new and fancy name for his training, there really is not much new about it.

The very origin of the Vaquero tradition goes actually back about 1200 years when the Moors came to Spain and brought the Barbs with them. Eventually the Spanish got rid of the Moors, but not of the horses and the horsemanship going with them.

In the 1700s the Conquistadores came to old Mexico – bringing with them the horses and the training and riding style. They eventually ended up in “Alta California” and established huge ranches. And their hands, the “Vaqueros” were still using the same techniques originating in Spain.

Even in the 1890s Ray Ordway’s father Ira learned original Castilian Spanish, because that was the language the old Master Vaqueros used – and you had to know the language to learn the art of Spanish horsemanship.

And a true art it is. No quickies, short cuts or quick fixes. Just passionate work and the willingness to keep learning – from horses and other people. It is amazing how often you can find the statement “the horse will tell you” when these guys talk about training.

Yes, it takes about 5 years to develop a “straight up” true “bridle horse”, but you also never will find a “90-day-wonder” dressage horse.


You really cannot go wrong with horses that go back as long as the Western Working Morgan with all the accomplishments. And any training approach that has stood the test of times for many hundred years cannot be wrong either. So, that is the blend I use.

If, you do not want to spend the time – and yes, money – that comes with this route, consider another horse, or maybe an ATV.

Questions and visitors are always welcome – just bring some time. And please, check your ego in at the gate. The horse comes first – just another tradition.

Oh, if you wonder, “what is in it for me?” … you will eventually find out.

Pine Creek Ranch
Wolfgang Maass
PO Box 1194
Seligman, AZ 86337



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