The Morgan horse is one of the earliest horse breeds developed in the United States. All Morgans trace back to a single foundation sire, a stallion named Figure, who was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts in 1789. In 1792, he was given to a man named Justin Morgan as a debt payment. The horse later came to be identified by the name of this particular owner, and "the Justin Morgan horse" evolved into the name of the breed. Figure is thought to have stood about 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm), and to have weighed about 1,000 pounds (450 kg). He was known for passing on his distinctive looks, conformation, temperament, and athleticism. His exact pedigree is unknown, although extensive efforts have been made to discover his parentage. The Morgan is a compact, refined breed, generally bay, black or chestnut in color, although it comes in many colors, including several variations of pinto. Used in both English and Western disciplines, the breed is known for its versatility.
Morgans served many roles in 19th-century American history, including being the official horse of the National Park Service rangers. Rangers at Point Reyes care for roughly 3-10 horses at time and have used them to patrol the park, work on trails, and ride in parades. On the hillside just above the Bear Valley Visitor Center you will find the historic working ranch with self-guided exhibits, corrals and a historic barn. Allow 20 minutes for this 0.5 mile round-trip walk around the Morgan Horse Ranch. Park at the south end of the Bear Valley Visitor Center parking lot and follow the signs from the Bear Valley Trailhead up the paved road to the Ranch. Disabled visitors are welcome to drive up to the Ranch and park in the designated parking area.
Love horses and have time to be a committed volunteer?
The Morgan Horse Ranch offers volunteers an opportunity to experience all aspects of horsemanship. They assist in ranch operations, including the care, handling and riding of horses of all ages, as well as the cleaning and maintenance of tack, equipment, fences and buildings. Volunteers may also greet visitors, answer questions and briefly explain their role as a volunteer. Experienced trainers are especially needed to help with the younger horses. The need for volunteers varies greatly throughout the year. For more information, contact Doug Hee at (415) 464-5145 or send him an email.