home boarding overcoming rider fear activities contact and info
photo gallery
in memory


My Horse’s Wish

Could you bed me down
with kindness
On the soft sweet words
of love...

Could you ride me in
Man’s finest;
With hands light as
a dove...

Could you teach me with
old wisdom,
By the laws of just
and fair...

Could you be my friend
With a trust so true
and rare...

Could you meet me on
the morrow,
With grasses green

Could you free me with
out sorrow,
On the plains of loam
and wheat...

Could you say farewell
with honor,
On the day my life is through...

And remember me
As I shall remember

Barbara Dunne Reeves 1998


We lost a gentle and well-minded mare named Lucy on Sunday, July 29th. Her foal, Carrie, is nearly old enough to be weaned. The experience that so many people shared in trying to save Lucy's life needs to be recognized and shared with all those whose lives which have been touched by experience with horses.

Saturday afternoon Juan found Lucy down and couldn't get her up. We were at Idyllwild riding (a fabulous time, Tiger was great, wonderful time with Bernie, Pop and Geri). Chris Harth was at the ranch and helped in contacting Craig Chandler who diagnosed a neurological problem of unknown cause which resulted in profound hind end weakness. His prognosis was dire.  

We came home late Saturday night and with effort were able to get her up again (Craig had instructed us). In the morning we weren't able to get her up and were resolved to put her down; when Craig arrived he concurred but with his help we got her up. It bought her another 12 hours to watch and treat. He gave her more steroids, DMSO and bute and instructions to get her up every two hours. She seemed to be doing better midday, staying up and with better balance between 11-1:30. We were hopeful. 

Bernie and I went to a fraternity reunion at 2, returning at 3:30. We got her up with more difficulty and for a short time and the last time. Vickie and John were there. Chris Fleury (a boarder who is a nurse) was there all day helping (get me water, keep me company, offer support). Carrie had been nursing as able with Lucy down or up, getting frustrated as there was less milk, but still trying and getting some.  

From the beginning to the end Lucy was eager to eat and drink, munching hay that we filled her corral with. Later Chris Harth arrived and stayed. Lucy became more weak, her hind legs blocked rather than helped in our efforts to help her up. Each effort took more out of her. We had lots of help but to no avail.  

We called Craig about 6:00, Bernie dug the hole, I sat with Lucy (and Carrie lying along side) until Craig arrived about 8. Patty and Larry arrived soon after. She went peacefully, and our efforts have turned to helping Carrie. Bernie had gone down earlier to get Foal Lac pellets (which she doesn't like). We are keeping her in the home she knows with the smells of her mother and Bordeaux next to her.  

As Carrie starts eating better, we'll move Choctaw with her. Carrie loves the water bucket, playing in the water (we nicknamed her Baleen as she sifts hay out of the water). We left her mother's manure as she seems to find comfort standing by it.  

It's heart breaking. So sudden and tragic. Carrie will be fine. Bernie and Juan raised an orphan 10 day old filly. It's just so hard to believe what has happened. I will miss Lucy and all the rides I dreamed of that won't be...


    Dillon and Erika

   Dillon and Gen

   Dillon and granddaughter Katie



Dillon came to me from Bernie's friend Keith Kaeser who had ridden Dillon from the time he was a youngster, especially enjoying  times with his buddy Jimmie Foster and the Wilderness Riders in the Sierras.  Dillon was a wonderful teacher, building confidence and introducing  many to the way of the horse.

On Friday, as Bernie and I were enjoying my Stanford reunion, we received a call that Dillon was colicking.  Fred was at the ranch helping Juan.  The vet arrived to find Dillon in pretty bad shape, wanting to be down.  When Dillon got up with Jeannie's encouragement,, he was uncoordinated as if he’d had a stroke or something was wrong neurologically.  Despite all efforts by our wonderful vet he continued to get worse.  With Jean (who was staying at our horse keeping the dogs company) and Jeannie (who has been leasing Dillon from me) present, Dillon was put out of his suffering.  His buddies from his pasture were brought down to say goodbye. Jeannie put his halter over the gate to his pasture with a black ribbon and cut off some tail and mane hair to keep as a memento.    He was only 11 years old and had helped so many people in his short life.


I am so sorry to hear about Dillon.  I called the ranch last night to leave a message for Bernie about riding on Monday and Fred answered the phone.

 After hanging up with Fred I called Chuck in Hawaii and told him the sad news.  As I sit here this morning my thoughts are surrounded by the incredible memories of Dillon.  I know he has touched many people's lives over the years.  I can't speak for Chuck but I know he had a major impact on Chuck's love for horses.  Since boarding our horses with you, he has been that horse that has allowed my family and friends to come to Oakzanita and experience the beauty of your ranch and experience the beauty on horseback.  He was so tolerant and willing and patient for many people and many riders.

 I think of how much he brought to you Peggy.....how much you gave to him, what a blessing to have shared the time you have had with him and many riders. 

I will miss calling Prince and having Dillon be the first one at the gate, willing to go!  I will miss watching the new riders working through their fears while Dillon waits contently. I will miss seeing him and knowing exactly who he is and how special he is.  Dillon will always be a horse that Chuck and I will remember in our hearts and in our souls.

 With love,

Rita Gallant


Dillon was the very first horse I rode at your place during my visit with Scott, Ed and Justyn (Rose Bowl trip). 

 I will never forget the calm but smug attitude of Dillon especially when he wanted to nip on some food :)

Martin Szuster


I really am sorry to hear what happened to Dillon, especially because he is the only horse that I have ever rode so far.

I always think of him and smile when I look back at the pictures I have with him.

I had a very good ride, and I could really feel the connection. He would listen to me and I would listen to him.

I will always miss Dillon, and I know that whenever I see horses I think of him as my pioneer!

Erika Moldovan


In memory of Dillon....

Dillon’s name could have been “Old Faithful.”  It seemed that whatever someone needed him to be, he would take that into account, see if he agreed, and then come to some place of understanding as to how this relationship was going to evolve.

I’m recalling three different folks who had leased him and to whom Dillon, in his wisdom, presented three seemingly different horses. The first was a long time rider from the show world who was used to high spirited horses in the show arena.  She had never experienced caring for a horse or riding trails.  Her perception was that Dillon was slow and non-responsive to her cues.  For some of us, it looked as if Dillon was absolutely taking care of a fearful rider in a variety of new situations.

The second was Chuck....Rita has already talked about that.  My memory is of being on the fire road in back of Bernie and Peggy’s place, and in the distance we saw a horse and rider galloping with great ease and joy, no runaway this pair.  As we drew closer, there was Dillon and Chuck, just out for a Saturday morning romp.  Chuck with a great grin on his face and Dillon looking mighty fine and happy.

The third is Jeannie and the memory of a continually evolving relationship between Jeannie and Dillon.  As a new rider, it seemed that each time Jeannie was ready, in Dillon’s understanding, to learn a new facet of horse/human dynamic, he would present that opportunity.  Jeannie, in turn, gave Dillon the consistent care and time in the saddle to meet his concerns.  It was a pleasure for all of us to watch their progress.

Dillon and his “Old Faithful” self will be missed and remembered.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to know these wonderful beings and for Peggy and Bernie who continue to “hang in there” with all of us on this journey to knowing.

Thank you,
Vickie Cottle

no words can express my sorrow over your loss. dillon was an amazing horse. he was so beautiful and gentle. and he was such an amazingly patient and kind teacher. i know that gen is mourning him terribly. even though he only met him once, he felt like dillon taught him so much in one short lesson. we both cried when we heard.

Kathi Murphy