The Story of George and his Saddlebred, Will Rogers
George discovered Will Rogers when he was just 2 years old, running free in an open pasture. Will was so untamed, everyone was afraid to ride him or even go near him! But the minute he met Will, George knew he was “The One.” George and Will Rogers had a very special and unique friendship. Will was a massive and spirited Saddlebred, measuring nearly 17 hands, and loved the adventure of an unchartered trail ride just as much as George did.
The two of them would make history together! George was the first person ever to ride on horseback from the beach in Del Mar all the way to Cuyamaca State Park (horse camp), approximately 60 miles by car and further by horseback through the unchartered mountain terrain of the Cuyamaca and Laguna Mountains. There are no designated trails, and most of the trip is deserted, with only mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, fox, deer, rabbit, snakes and other critters to call friends. George said he felt safe on Will's back. The trip would take 4-6 days, depending on the route. George accomplished this feat five times before cancer forced him to surrender his saddle. The local news took notice, and filmed him riding into horse camp on Will's back, weary, sweaty and tired, but again successful in knowing he could tackle the unchartered and reach the finish line.
In addition to making history for their marathon horse rides, George and Will Rogers would earn a legendary reputation in the horse community for many additional feats. One of the most fun activities he and Will enjoyed was serving as a mounted horse patrol volunteer for the park system in San Diego, as well as Search & Rescue. On Thanksgiving Day, he and Will could be seen riding through the streets of downtown San Diego, passing out blankets and care packages to the homeless.
They also competed together at the prestigious Del Mar Fairgrounds, winning ribbons for expertise in obstacle driving competition and equestrian dexterity. He and Will were favorites in local holiday parades, buggy rides across San Diego County and infamous stunts, including riding on horseback through the drive-up window at McDonalds for an ice cream cone!
Forever the adventurer, George spent several months driving cross country with his horse trailer and Will Rogers, experiencing in the beauty, vastness and colors of the United States together, from swimming horseback in the bay in Cape Cod to riding in the deep snow in Yosemite National Park.
George passed away on April 18, 2021 at the age of 66 of Stage IV cancer and his horse Will Rogers at age 27 in 2011.