January 05, 2009 | | Comments 0

Cowhorse Ranch – The Escape You’re Longing For

By – CJ Wheeler

Editor- Chenay Jordan-McDowell

Photographer – CJ Wheeler

Cow Horse Ranch

Cowhorse Ranch

Located off the dirt Rancho Ballena Road, in Ramona, California (near San Diego), the Cowhorse Ranch sits in a lush green valley between two majestic mountains.

To get there, you will have to drive through the quaint downtown of Ramona, and then follow a winding country road (Highway 78) with endless rolling golden hills.  On the way you will pass by an endless number of cow ranches and upscale horse breeding farms. You can even stop at the road side stand for some farm fresh eggs.

The moment you arrive, you will find that the Cowhorse Ranch is simply charming.  From the blue eyed cow dog that greets you with a kiss, to the warm sun slowly setting behind the mountains, and the horses… everywhere.

Owned and operated by John Mallon and his wife Stephanie, the Mallons’ offer ranch visitors two lifetimes of equine knowledge and with their easy going, warm nature, it’s easy to see why even the most novice equine enthusiast feels welcome here.

John has conducted equine seminars worldwide, written and published hundreds of articles, and even sings country music and plays the guitar.  Also insightful about equine behavior, he says the most common mistake horse owners make is: “People treat their horses like they are dogs. They talk to them like they are dogs, like the horse has some interest in pleasing them, or cares about them. They don’t. The horse just cares about being comfortable and feeling safe. So if you think your horse is trying to outsmart you or is being stubborn, take that stuff out of your mind. It doesn’t exist.”

He adds: “Your horse is hardwired to be super cooperative. But they are not looking for a buddy; they are looking for a boss. Your horse is looking for a nice, kind, benevolent dictator.”  For more information about the “Mallon Method” visit: The San Diego Equine Exchange.

Stephanie is also very involved and teaches ranch sorting.

Whether you are a beginner or a pro, a sorter, a cutter, or a roper, the Cowhorse Ranch is a facility that is fully equipped to suit a number or events and disciplines.

Boasting four arenas that are guaranteed to be dust and rock free, the Cowhorse Ranch lets patrons rent the arena of their choice by the hour, half-day, or full-day as well as the use of either their mechanical cow or their live cattle, which are rotated out regularly.

cow-horse-ranch-3By appointment only, you can book a Ranch Sorting Practice or a Cutting Practice.  Fees are based on standard arena rates and turn back service is always available.  A great way to introduce young horses to cattle in a non-hostile environment, tune up seasoned horses, or improve your own riding/sorting skills.

Weekends at the Cowhorse Ranch are busy with both Ranch Sorting and Ranch Roping, and “you’re guaranteed to have a good time or your money back!”

Every Saturday (weather permitting), the Cowhorse Ranch Cattle Club hosts its Ranch Sorting & Shootout.

Ranch sorting is an equine sport that is rampantly becoming popular among equine families and is now an approved event of the American Quarter Horse Association.

The Shootout event is Ranch Sorting “individual style” and is an equally exciting event to participate in.

cow-horse-ranch-2A Seasonal Membership for the Cowhorse Ranch Cattle Club can be purchased for $25. During the event, members pay a $5 fee for each run they participate in.  Non-members can also participate for a mere $6 per run.

Sponsored prizes are given for the best Ranch Sorting time of the night and the Shootout has a 50% payback.  Jackpots and Buckle Runs are also hosted throughout the season.

Signups start at 1:30 p.m. and Sorting starts at 2:00 p.m.  Between 4-5 p.m. the Shootout will begin, with Sorting continuing immediately after.

Saturdays are no doubt an entire day of ranch fun for the whole family.  Not to mention, the incredibly friendly atmosphere at these events makes for an ideal learning environment for beginners and provides friendly competition for more experienced riders.

But Sundays don’t slouch either.  Visitors on Sundays can expect to participate in Ranch Roping.  Times and rates for Roping Practices vary so be sure to call ahead.

And if you’re not local?

The Cowhorse Ranch offers overnight accommodations for both you and your horse.  Stay in your horse trailer, your truck, or your tent and put your horse up in one of their corrals.  And, if roughing it isn’t your style, try a B&B in nearby Julian or Ramona.  John and Stephanie can help you find one that suits your needs.

Lessons and training are also available at the Cowhorse Ranch for “novice to intermediate horses and for riders who wish to start or improve their cattle working skills.”

If you don’t have a horse suitable for working cattle but want to get involved, John and Stephanie have a number of horses for use as well as prospects for sale.

No matter when you visit, before you leave the “world” of the Cowhorse Ranch, be sure to drive the mere 10 minutes to the World Famous Julian Pie Company.  A slice of delicious apple pie is a marvelous way to recoup after spending a day (or days) at the ranch.

Afterward, loosen your Wranglers by walking across the street to Donna Sherrill’s Antique store. Packed with fascinating antiques as well as great jams and jellies from the orchard Donna runs, the shop emanates a nostalgia many will recognize.
Make sure to pat Donna’s dog “Becky” on the head while you’re there.

You will probably have to step over her to get in the door.

For more information about the Cowhorse Ranch, visit their website at

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