The Beers/Friend family came to Ojai in 1873, where they established a farm in the east end of the valley. After trying a variety of crops, it was ascertained that oranges grow best, so, in addition to everything necessary for a self-sustaining farm, a few acres of oranges were planted to provide a cash crop.

William J. Friend and his wife Annie eventually had a family of six children, and continued to farm oranges. In the early years, Sarah Beers sold off some of her land; then, as oranges became profitable, the family was able to purchase additional acreage. Sarah’s only daughter, Annie Friend, inherited the land, and was able to provide acreage for each of her six children.

George Elmer Friend (always known as Elmer) worked hard to maintain the family’s orchards, and was always on the lookout to purchase more land to farm. In 1963, he bought land adjacent to Los Padres National Forest, built his own packinghouse, and started to market his oranges and tangerines. His two daughters, Anne and Aleta, were an active part of his expanding business, along with Anne’s husband, Tony Thacher.

Aleta, the younger daughter, has always had a fascination with horses. In 1970, Aleta and her son, Robert Kittredge moved into the old Friend home, site of the original homestead. Almost immediately she bought a pony for Robert, who became his companion for the next five years. Then, of course, Aleta needed a horse, and after Rob outgrew the pony, another horse. Their menagerie grew to include horse, dogs, cats, chickens and 4-H rabbits, goats and pigs.

In 1980, Aleta went on a pack trip in the Sierra Nevada because she wanted to learn how to manage her own horse in the Ojai backcountry. Things did not exactly work out that way; but in 1984 she married Herb London, long time owner of Rock Creek Pack Station north of Bishop, California. Every spring Aleta and Herb would migrate from Ojai to Bishop, and back again in the fall transporting a variety of animals with them each time.

With the death of Elmer Friend in 1988, and the ensuing changes in the family business, the extensive land holdings Elmer had accumulated were divided between Friend’s Ranches and Friend’s Stable and Orchard.

We began the boarding business in 1996, with just one big arena and a few corrals built among the hundred year old orange trees for ambiance and shade. Our original goals of trying to give enough space for each horse, a safe and secure place for horses and people, and a quiet and pleasant atmosphere still abides at our stable today. What started as a small boarding business has grown into a stable which can support a population of 65 horses, with various barns, corrals, and paddocks, but which strives to maintain a comfortable feel.