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A Rich Family Tradition

After more than 50 years, horses and passion drive Green Arces Ranch through 3 generations

By Horsetrader staff - February 4th, 2010 - Cover Story

TEMECULA – Like so many stories, it all began with a horse.

It was 1956, and a Whittier pediatrician sought the right horse to accompany his new venture, a 120-acre gentleman’s alfalfa farm in Indio. He did his homework and acquired a pair of Crabbet Arabian mares from none other than Herbert H. Reese, who ran the horse unit at Cal Poly Pomona at the time and who took the pediatrician, Dr. Harold West, under his wing and into the horse world.

“That’s how it started,” says Margaret Rich, Dr. West’s then-7-year-old daughter whose passion for horses hasn’t waned a bit at age 60.

The Arabian Horse industry would never be the same. Dr. West’s contributions after he founded Green Acres Ranch in Whittier more than 50 years ago are legendary. His legacy today, though, can also be found in the saddles of cow horses and Dutch Warmbloods as his grandchildren, Roy and Katherine Rich, spread their wings.

Roy Rich has crossed into stock horse training.

Roy Rich has crossed into stock horse training.

Green Acres Ranch, which Dr. West relocated to 50 acres in Temecula in 1969, thrives today in Margaret’s hands with a variety of activities, programs and disciplines. Arabians remain the preeminent centerpiece, true to family tradition of showing, breeding and training top-flight Arabian horses. Katherine, 29, and her clients have 19 Arabian Horse Association National Championships and Reserves to their name and more than 50 AHA National Top Tens. Among other titles, Roy, 27, was a National Park Champion at age 16.

When they are not working in the Arabian realm, though, Roy and Katherine pursue their respective passions of working cow horses and dressage.

“They’ve gone in the same direction with a different saddle,” says Margaret, a licensed USEF Judge with a card for Arabians and Half-Arabians. “Katherine’s passion is dressage. Roy’s passion is reining and cow horse. It’s just the saddle that’s different in those two very demanding, correct disciplines. In both cases, they’ve done it on their own.”

After a career of showing Arabians, mostly in park classes and some western pleasure, Roy, then 13, went down DePortola Road to his first reining lesson at Todd Crawford’s.

“I remember how fast that horse spun,” he says. “Oh, my gosh. That was fun.”

Katherine Rich's passion is dressage and Dutch Warmbloods.

Katherine Rich's passion is dressage and Dutch Warmbloods.

He has been learning and earning since. He relinquished his amateur card six years ago, and after guidance from Mark Matson, Mike Berg, Doug Williamson and Glen Aspinal, Roy stepped out onto his own last August. His business has grown from four horses in training to 22 in less than six months. He has five students who want to compete locally, and he’s eager to help them.

He’s looking to grow his own show success, too. He has competed in the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity open division three of the last four years, progressing each year toward a spot among the illustrious finalists. He may not have reached it yet, but his accomplishments are growing: third place in the 2009 National Stock Horse Association 5000 Pro-Am Snaffle Bit Futurity on Fresno’s Indian Chief; champion in 2008 and reserve in 2009 of the AHAA Limited Open Half Arabian reining classic on KD Ruff N Rowdy; reserve champion at the 2008 NSHA Futurity limited open hackamore on Riding Might Be A Diamond, and other wins.

“I’m just lucky,” says Roy, who’ll compete at the 2010 NSHA Classic and Bridle Spectacular Feb. 23-28 in Tulare. “I crave it. I want to do it the rest of my life because I get paid to have fun.”

Katherine kindled her passion for dressage when she purchased a Dutch Warmblood yearling from DG Bar Ranch in Hanford in 2003. She has showed Victor DG, now 8, to Third Level Test 3, influenced by Wily Arts, Kathleen Raine and Axel Steiner. But it has not been the destination that inspires her. It’s been the journey.

“He’s actually for sale at the moment because the direction I want to take is to work with younger dressage horses – I enjoy that process the most,” she says. “Purchasing them at a young age, doing the in-hand, breaking them, competing in the young horse classes for the DG Bar Cup.”

When her Dutch Warmbloods reach a certain level, she puts them up for sale and starts over.

Margaret Rich hosts a new therapeutic riding program, GAIT.

Margaret Rich hosts a new therapeutic riding program, GAIT.

“I only have time to do that as a hobby because the Arabians are my main focus,” says Katherine, whose Green Acres Ranch horses and students vie in all English disciplines that Arabians, Half-Arabians and Sport Horses compete in. “And, I’m traveling, going to horse shows. That’s my focus.”

Cow horses. Dressage. Arabians. Sport Horses. There’s also roping twice-monthly here, and a therapeutic riding school, Green Acres Interactive Therapy (GAIT) has taken root. Clearly, there are different sections playing in the symphony of Green Acres Ranch. But the music works. Katherine admits the family’s enterprise is unique in that way. Margaret says the glue can be found in their dining room.

“We sit down and eat dinner together every night,” says Margaret, a past Director of the AHA Region 1 whose life has been devoted to the ranch and to the Arabian industry. “That’s when everybody’s sitting there, and we share what’s gone on during the day. It was the same way with me growing up. We would have to wait until eight o’clock at night sometimes to have dinner until my dad got home.”

The Rich family heritage at Green Acres Ranch is, well, rich. And at the center are the horses.

“People ask me all the time, `How did you raise Roy and Katherine that they are the way they are, that they have such a work ethic, that they have the values they have?”, says Margaret. “It wasn’t anything that they were taught. It just happened. It’s these animals. These children have known responsibilities since they were knee-high. They were expected to do certain things. It was just like me.”

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