Skip to main content


I purchased Cali, a sorrel quarter horse, in 1988, while I was still in college at UC Davis - she was not quite 4 years old and green-broke. Sami, my future wife, agreed to date me because I had a horse. Between the two of us, we bumbled through Cali's training - she became much more than a green horse.

After college, I went to work for the California Cattlemen's Association. Through the friends I made in that job, I had the chance to gather cows, brand calves and go on pack trips in the Sierra with Cali. Despite my inexperience in these activities, Cali became an incredibly trustworthy horse. She became my pal.

My Mom had never ridden a horse. When we lived in Penryn, I convinced her to try it. Cali took great care of her!

The last time I rode Cali, my daughter Lara and I rode through our ranch and a neighboring ranch to look for a bull that had disappeared. Even though Cali had developed navicular disease (a degenerative condition in the lower front legs), she loyally carried me in our search. This was about 2 years ago.

Last fall, Cali became severely lame in a rear leg. After treating her and testing her, we determined that she probably had a tumor in her hip. Last Sunday morning, I found her dead in her paddock - she was 24 years old.

Horses and mules live long enough to become part of a family. Despite my inexperience, Cali had allowed me to train her. When we had kids, she was the first horse to carry both of our girls. She was as loyal an animal as I've ever owned. I miss her terribly.

If we choose to "own" animals, I think we're blessed with only a handful of exceptional partners during our lifetimes. Cali was one of those exceptional horses that few people have a chance to ride. Thank you, Cali.


  1. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It was very touching to read what you wrote above and Cali was lucky to have such a good caretaker through the years.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Trade Offs

As we were building fence for the soon-to-be-lambing ewes this morning, someone drove by and asked my partner Roger how long it took to set up the electro-net fencing we use for the sheep. Roger replied, "It's not too bad," to which the driver said, "Seems like a lot of work." Roger's answer - which both of us use with some frequency, was, "Yeah - but this way we don't have to feed any hay!" The driver, who obviously wasn't a rancher, didn't understand - and I suspect even some of my rancher friends don't understand the trade off we're making. Building electric fence is a lot of work - wouldn't it be easier just to feed hay?

The paddock that Roger and I built this morning encloses about 5.75 acres of high quality forage. Since the ewes are on the verge of lambing, their forage demand is peaking. They're eating nearly twice as much grass now as they need in the late summer - after all, many of them eating for three (and p…

No Easy Answers Part 2

In mid October, some friends who graze their cattle in the mountains of western Lassen County (less than 200 miles from our home), became the first ranchers to have cattle “officially” killed by wolves in California in nearly a century. Wildlife officials confirmed that the Lassen pack killed a 600-pound heifer; four more heifers died (and were partially eaten by wolves), but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) couldn’t confirm the cause of death. While I learned about the depredations shortly after they happened through the rancher grapevine, news of my friends’ losses weren’t made public until the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation issued a joint press release this week. The October 28 edition of the Sacramento Bee ran the story.
If you’ve read my previous blogs about wolves, you’ll probably know that I’ve frequently been frustrated with the Bee’s coverage. The paper has run guest opinions disguised as news articles, and appar…

Humbled and Excited

More than 20 years ago, I went to work for the California Cattlemen's Association (CCA). After two internships, I'd been hired by my friend and mentor John Braly as the membership director in 1992. By 1996, I'd been promoted to assistant vice president - pretty heady stuff for a young guy who hadn't grown up in the industry. I started looking for new challenges. Dr. Jim Oltjen, who was (and is) the beef extension specialist at UC Davis (my undergraduate alma mater) suggested that I think about going to graduate school to prepare for a career in extension. I considered it, but the timing wasn't right.

Fast forward to 2013 (or so) - I'd been working as a part-time community education specialist in our local University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) office for several years. The farm advisors in the office - Roger Ingram and Cindy Fake - suggested that I consider getting a master's degree and applying for a future farm advisor job. This time the id…