In the year 1900, my grand father, Frank Finch, purchased the present home property located at what is now 40719 Old Three Rivers Drive, in Three Rivers, California.

~ Frank & Rhoda Finch ~ 1888

This is where the headquarters of the "Bar-O-" Horse Ranch is located today, situated beneath the majestic Blossom Peak, and surrounded by the High Sierra mountains overlooking the beautiful valley of Three Rivers, California.

~ Blossom Peak ~

Through the last 100 years or so the ranch has evolved from a single walled home where I was born in 1931, to a full fledge horse ranch with a modern horse barn complex. It contains twelve large stalls (each with all pipe and screen runs attached), a solid metal round pen with a viewing stand, an office with a kitchen and restroom plus a large wash rack area near the tack room. Other training facilities, include an all new arena and eight separated fields, all charged with water in the top rail.

~ Modern Horse Barn Complex ~

My father, Earl A. McKee Sr., was born in 1891about 10 miles from here, near Lemon Cove, CA. After accumulating horses and mules In 1910, he started working as a mountain guide and packer taking commercial pack trips into the nearby High Sierra Nevada Mountains. He acquired the riding and packing concession in Sequoia National Park in 1929. This, he continued to do every summer until his untimely death in 1946.

~ Earl A. McKee Sr. ~ 1930

The packing business remained in our family until 1963. This is where I grew up each summer packing and handling mules and horses all through the Sierras.

My Mother, who's maiden name was Edna B. Finch, traveled across the states in a Horse and Buggy from Cherokee Iowa at the age of 7 years. (To the original 80 acres my Grandfather bought in 1900).

~ Edna Finch ~

My Father and Mother were married here in Three Rivers in 1912. They homesteaded 320 acres near Three Rivers, and began acquiring property in the 1920's and 30'.s. By that time the Bar-O-Ranch had became a well established beef cattle and horse ranch. The entire operation eventually was spread over 5000 deeded acres in the general areas of Three Rivers and Lemon Cove, as well as leasing 4000 acres of B.L.M. that joined the ranch.

In the early 20's after W. W.I., my father acquired the right to manage and breed the Reg. Thoroubred stallion named "Mars Mouse." This horse was known as a remount stallion belonging to the U .S. Cavalry and was managed on the shares. (The get colts from this stallion were remembered around these parts to be excellent cow horses and were used extensively on surrounding ranches). My father, who was an exceptional horseman, broke, used and sold many of the colts of "Mars Mouse". They were known for their great disposition, excellent feet, bone and withers. Some of these "Mars" mares were kept to breed and produce the early foundation horses on this ranch.

My father bred a daughter of Mars Mouse to an early quarter horse stallion owned by Lep Craig in Lemoore, CA. The horses name was "Cimmeron". A "Plaudit" bred stud. She produced a palomino stud colt in the spring of 1940. This stallion became a well known bridle horse shown in this area of California. The Fred Gill and Sons Ranch in Yokall Valley, Exeter, California, leased and pasture bred this stallion a number of seasons to some of their mares. He was affectionately known as "Palmer". After my father's unexpected death in 1946, I fell heir to this stallion and rode many of his colts. Palmer died at the age of 20 years old in 1960.

~ Palmer ~ 1950's

I purchased the next stallion in 1972 from Frank and Mary Costa of Visalia, California, by the name of "Acres Cup Cake". He was a grandson of "Doc Bar" on his dam's side and sired by "Poco Acres". a "Poco Bueno" & "Jimmy Reed" bred horse, on the top side. I cowboyed on this horse for many years and eventually sold him to Dale Tingle in Corning, CA. Who kept him until ACC died at age 26. Dale showed many colts sired by ACC in many AQHA shows. He sired many horses that could really watch a cow.

My next stallion was a palomino stud named "Dude Skip". He was a "Blondy Dude" breed horse that sired a number of horses with color and great dispositions making them excellent cow horses. I still have several mares that were sired by him in my band of mares.

In 1996 I purchased a stud named "DocsSanPeppyGomango" from Herb York of Lake Success, Ca. Herb bred American Quarter Horses for some 40 years before he passed away. This stallion is a large horse that's bred to watch a cow and can run. I have raised many good rope and ranch horses from this beautiful stud that is presently standing in my barn.

~ DocsSanPeppyGomango ~

I'm partial to the "King 234" line of horses. Most all of the great raining and cutting horses go back to the "King 234" blood. In 1995, I purchased a bay Stallion from my good friend Ray Lindseth, in Dupuyer Montana, who still raises some of the best King bred horses in the country.

This stallion called "Cue Berry King," is a deep blood bay horse, with all the King features. He has a great head and neck, deep in the cinch, good withers, short cannon bones and the best feet. We're riding some of his get at the present time and they show a world of promise. "King 234" and "Poco Dell" are on the face of his papers. He is also standing presently in my barn.

~ Cue Berry King ~

I purchased a red roan stud colt in 1997 named "Plenty Valentine," from my good friend John Balkinbush of Conrad Montana who breeds some of the finest Joe Hancock bred horses in the North West. "Plenty Valentine" is sired by "Classy Bar Hancock" who is a "Sugar Bar" - "Joe Hancock" bred horse. His dam is a double-bred "Blue Valentine" mare named "Mandy Maid". He has matured into a great cow horse and breeding animal, all the while maintaining his kid horse disposition. His colts have the same traits, are very easy to break and have lots of color. Ever dependable, just lead him out of his stall, throw on a saddle, cinch up and step on. He's ready to go, no funny business and a real pleasure to ride. This horse is presently standing as well, at stud in my barn.

~ Plenty Valentine ~

I also purchased another King bred stallion from Darold Tomsheck in Oilmont, Montana in 2001. This stud named "King O Clubs" is a half brother to "Cue Berry King". He was also bred and raised by Ray Lindseth in Dupuyer, Montana. This sorrel stallion is one of the most beautifully proportioned of the King bred horses I've seen. "King 234" and "Poco Bueno" both show on the face of his papers. He also stands in my barn.

~ King O Clubs ~

Breeding foundation and performance stock horses are where I have set my lifelong goals, and the breeding mares are the backbone of this industry. Most of them I have raised, but I do buy an occasional outside mare. Back in 1992, I purchased 6 mares from Don Stearns from Buffalo, South Dakota. These mares were mainly "Two Eyed Jack" - "King 234" bred mares. I have a couple of mares by "Poco Bueno Image" I bought from the Haythorn Ranch in Arthur,Nebraska. I've bought "Hancock" bred horses from Bud Rankin in Lodgepole, Nebraska.

I try to keep about 30 breeding mares here at the ranch, every year. After foaling and breeding time in the spring, I run most of the mares in the mountainous hills of the Bar-O-Ranch. This is where the foals learn from their mothers about rocky trails, how to go through brush, how to cross creeks, how to jump a draw and the ever present reality and respect of barbed wire. This important exposure to the wilderness, with it's dangers and challenges, educates the young mind of these horses. In my belief, these life molding experiences are what separate the mountain horses from those that haven't been out of a paddock.

Throughout the year, we sell started horses and colts of all ages. This season, our stud fees begin at $400. For more information, please feel free to call or email us at anytime or come on up and visit us at the Bar-O-Ranch in Three Rivers.

~ Earl A. McKee ~


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