California Riding Magazine • November, 2008

No Saddles at
Saddle Creek Farm
Fallbrook facility provides a haven
for retired and laid-up horses.

A small herd of gleaming geldings graze quietly in a grass pasture near Fallbrook. The shade from neighboring oak trees provides them with a pleasant reprise from the hot afternoon sun. To the casual observer they could appear nothing more than a motley band of lesson ponies resting between lessons; but closer scrutiny shows that these boys are a bit long in tooth and sporting a few gray hairs. There are no more saddles or bridles in their future, they are living out their golden years in style.

“I just love the retired horses,” says Bobbie Shirley, owner of Saddle Creek Farm in northern San Diego County. For over 20 years Bobbie and her staff have been caring for injured or post-surgical horses, mares in foal, lay-up and retired horses. “Every horse here has a special owner that loves them and wants to provide them with the best care possible; but there is something really special about the retired horses. Some of the retirees have been with me for 10 years, even with the economy being what it is, their owners want them to fully enjoy their retirement.”

Saddle Creek Farm has all the amenities a horse owner could hope for from a boarding facility: an experienced staff that is onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week, well maintained facilities, strong professional relationships with veterinarians and farriers and quality hay, as well as an established feeding program which was developed and is regularly monitored by veterinarians.

However, Bobbie confesses that Saddle Creek’s true value isn’t its amenities, facilities or staff; it is what those features provide her clients with—peace of mind. “Whether their horse is retired to pasture or recovering from surgery or an injury in the barn, owners know at Saddle Creek their horses are secure and receive tender, loving care.”

Every horse’s needs are dealt with on an individual basis. All new horses are quarantined for a minimum of two weeks and then, when ready, gradually introduced into a small herd, placed in a paddock or housed in the barn, according to their needs. The barn is mostly used for horses staying at Saddle Creek post-surgery or horses in need of stall rest or stall confinement. When appropriate, horses are turned out year round in irrigated pastures.

All of Saddle Creek’s staff work closely with the owner’s veterinarian to develop an individual rehabilitation plan or a strategy for post-surgical or wound care. There are many options for rehabilitation and care including hand walking around the beautiful property or exercise in the 60-foot round pen.

“Our horses come to us by referral from veterinarians, equine hospitals, trainers and of course, by word of mouth,” says Bobbie. “Our goal is to provide excellent care so we can maintain the reputation we have earned. Although we have made a lot of changes to the property in 20 years, one thing has not changed, my love for the horses.”

For more information on Saddle Creek Farm visit, call 760-728-6166 or email