Ortega Mountain Ranch

About Us



Who are we? We are Kent and Laurra, husband and wife, owners of Ortega Mountain Ranch. We are two people who are passionate about animal welfare for all creatures great and small, animal rights, the environment, and living as green as possible. We are also skydivers, aviators, and vegans.

Ortega Mountain Ranch is a relatively new chapter in our lives, the product of our (mostly Laurra’s) life’s journey.

Evolution of a Dream

Sophie

Sophie

As a young child, like all young children, I had a dream. My particular dream was about horses. I cannot remember not being passionate about horses. All I ever wanted was a horse. I read every horse book I could get my hands on. I watched every Western on TV just to see the horses. I sometimes even pretended to be a horse.

My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a lot. When I was 10 years old we relocated to a rural part of Riverside, California. Ours was the last house on the street, and open space abounded in many directions. My dad convinced my mom that they should get a horse for me. I remember that moment as vividly as if it were yesterday—it was the happiest day of my young life. His name was Nugget, and he was a palomino Quarter Horse gelding. He was my life—he was my best friend. I spent nearly every free moment with him, and I rode him everywhere. I learned firsthand about horses through Nugget. He was challenging at times, but riding him taught me a lot. We never had a trainer, and we never rode in arenas. It was just me riding him, mostly bareback, through the hills and around the Santa Ana River. Spending so much time with Nugget solidified my dream. My 10-year-old child’s dream was not unlike every young girl’s dream who loves horses: my version of that dream was that someday I wanted to raise a palomino Quarter Horse filly and have a ranch.

But I grew up, and my interests shifted elsewhere. I lived an exciting life as a member of a professional automobile road racing team, I raced off-road motorcycles, and later I became a competitive skydiver. I figured my interest in horses had long vanished.

In  2003, for our 25th wedding anniversary, Kent and I decided to go to Ireland for a 6-day horseback trail ride. It would be the first time I had been on a horse in nearly 40 years, and it would be Kent’s first time doing any kind of real riding. We had a terrific time, spending 5  – 6 hours a day in the saddle, and riding over 86 miles point to point. We rode across bogs, over mountains, through villages, along the seashore, and even swam the horses in the ocean. It was a microcosm of the kind of riding I had done with Nugget many years earlier. It was wonderful.

When we returned home, Kent urged me to get a horse. ‘No way’, I insisted. Where would I keep a horse? I certainly didn’t have time to devote to a horse, and the expense—it’s like raising a child…This banter went on for nearly 2 years, but in early August, 2005 I had a premonition that someone would give me a horse. Hah! What a silly thought that was…who on Earth would ever give me a horse…?

DSCN0647

Baby Sophie and her mom, Picachu

Three weeks later we were watching a friend, who is a Charro roper, perform at an event that Kent had skydived into. Tomas Garcilazo is his name, and he has remarkably beautiful, exquisitely trained horses. After his show Tomas came over to us, and while sitting on one of his beautiful animals he announced, out of the clear blue, that he wanted to give us a horse. This horse was the offspring of his beautiful performance stallion and one of his mares. A 4-month-old filly. A Quarter Horse. A palomino.

I was stunned. We didn’t know what to say. Tomas didn’t know of my childhood dream, nor did he know of my premonition. We were overwhelmed with his offer and at first didn’t want to accept—the responsibility and commitment were enormous…

We named her Sophia Rose—Sophie for short. We fell in love with her the moment we met her. She was my dream—40 years later, but very real.

But where would we keep her? We had two months to figure it out before she was weaned, so we started looking for somewhere to put her that wouldn’t be in a cage. I really don’t like stalls…horses don’t belong in stalls…we looked and looked and finally found a lovely ranch that was a 50-minute drive from where we lived. They were willing to take her as a boarder, and she would be in a big open corral. And, oh, by the way, we found out that the ranch was for sale…

Three weeks after we brought Sophie to Ortega Mountain Ranch we opened escrow…We had no intention of buying a ranch…We decided to buy the ranch almost without discussion—we just knew it was what we were supposed to do. It was an even bigger commitment—owning a ranch? Are you kidding? It takes us months to decide on a couch to buy, but we decided to buy a ranch in minutes. During the process we had a few ‘what are we doing?’ moments, but they didn’t last long. Deep down inside we knew this is what we were supposed to do.

We affectionately call the ranch Sophie’s Place. It is the icing on my Dream Cake. Someone gave us a horse so we bought her a ranch…

Our Philosophy

DSCN1095 Our Mission Statement: To live in harmony with all animals and with Nature; and to support the natural lifestyle of all animals, both wild and domesticated.

In the great scheme of things human life is very short, yet our society is structured around material possessions—what we own. So currently we ‘own’ the ranch, but the Truth is that we are temporary stewards of the land. This land was here ages before our lives began and it will be here long after we are gone. Even though we have a piece of paper saying we are the owners, we see our job as being caretakers of this magnificent land. Our responsibility is to protect it and to preserve it. We believe that we can use it for our pleasure as long as we follow Nature’s rules. That involves respecting and protecting the native plants and animals, and using the land’s resources wisely and conservatively.

We compost our manure in a state-of-the-art aeration composting system and use it to fertilize our pasture and anything else that needs a boost. We use no poisons on the ranch, and we recycle/reuse everything that we can.

The ranch is completely off the grid. We operate the Ortega Mountain Ranch Water and Power Company—getting our water from an artesian well on the land, and generating our own power. We are in the mountains (coastal plain mountains, elevation 2300’), and in the middle of a Federally designated Wilderness, so our water is clean and pure. We generate our electricity from 42 solar panels/storage batteries/inverter system, and we have a diesel generator for back-up. Our goal is to reduce the use of fossil fuels as much as possible.

Currently we are running our tractors and other equipment on diesel but our long-range goal is to convert them to bio diesel if possible. While it may not be possible (or practical) to completely wean ourselves off all fossil fuel, we are doing as much as we can.

We treat all the native animals with respect, and we consider the ranch to be their home. After all, their species were here first. It is their planet too. We don’t interfere with their lifestyles and they leave us alone as well. There are many species of birds, snakes (including rattlesnakes), and there are deer, coyote, fox, bobcat, and cougar that live in the area. We all manage to get along just fine.

What We Do

Ortega Mountain Ranch is not a boarding stable. Our ranch is our private sanctuary, but we have chosen to offer exclusive retirement boarding for people who are interested in having their retired horse lead as natural a lifestyle as is possible (within the confines of domestication). We keep the boarding portion of our operation small so that we can offer personal hands-on care for each and every horse. Retired horses deserve the best of care. During their active years they have done everything asked of them. Retirement is the opportunity to repay their loyalty and hard work with loving care that is suited to their needs.

 






If you have any questions, please reach out to us at ortegamtnranch@cox.net