Fairlea Ranch History
John has been around horses most of his life and grew up riding them on his grandfather's farm (Fair Lea Stock Farm) in southern Michigan. When he left home for New York University, horses really took a back seat. In the mid-1980s John and Kate bought a 200 acre "gentleman's ranch" with two houses, a barn and a lake in the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Badger, CA. Within 18 months the ranch had grown to 1500 acres and had a cow/calf operation of 300 head.
Later, a friend, Tom Marvel, put John on a cutting horse, changing his life forever. As Kate said, "Our life sort of made a big left turn at that point as far as the horses were concerned." They sold the cattle to focus exclusively on the raising and showing of performance horses for cutting and reined cow horse events.
Another big change in their program came with the success of their primary stud, Silver Gun. After accomplishing an outstanding record in the reined cow horse world, the couple sent him to Benny Guitron to make a run for the AQHA Superhorse title. Along that route Todd Hampton came on to show Silver Gun in roping. The end result was that Silver Gun earned the titles of Reserve Champion AQHA Superhorse, World Champion Sr. Heeling and top 10 Sr. Heading. The effect was to add another dimension - roping - to their successful breeding and showing program.
The most recent "left turn" in the history of Fairlea Ranch came in December 2008 with the purchase of a 50 acre show facility in Exeter, CA. This beautiful park-like setting of irrigated pastures, 40 permanent stalls, cutting pen, show arena, loping pen and starting pen, is a perfect place to hold any type of horse event, from cutting to cow horse to ranch versatility to roping. The first thing the couple did was begin construction on a 300 x 150 combination cow horse-roping arena. The new Silver Gun Arena will hold its first event in October, 2010. The Exeter facility as already been the venue for numerous and varied types of horse events and has already started booking a full series of events for 2011.
John served on the board of the National Reined Cow Horse Association for four years. Presently as President of the NRCHA Foundation he has a non-voting seat on the NRCHA Board. In the past he has also served on the board of the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association.
Kate has served on the boards of the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association, Mid Valley Cutting Horse Association and served on the sponsorship committee of the NRCHA. She currently serves on the PCCHA stallion committee.
Kate doesn't ride, and John isn't able to show because of his work. He's an Emmy award winning Executive Producer in the entertainment Industry. "I always say I'm going to (show amateur) when I have enough time to practice and do it right," he said. "The problem is the job that I am in, I'm very limited in the time that I can take away and do it." So it's up to their trainers to campaign their horses. The couple currently has cow horses and cutting horses with Tommy Thompson, cow horses and rope horses with Les Oswald and cutting horses with Gavin Jordan.
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