Camarillo White Horse Association

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  History of the Camarillo White Horses...

Welcome to the  web site of the Camarillo White Horse Association.  The Association is almost 20 years old now and the purpose is to record and maintain the lineage of the historic breed of famous Camarillo White Horses.  Founded by the white stallion, Sultan, purchased by Adolfo Camarillo in 1921, these horses can trace their ancestry back close to 90 years now.


The Association also has an informative booklet available for anyone interested in these horses.  Please click here for more information.


Camarillo White Horse Association booklet cover 

The tally is in! Out of 10 foals born, 7 are white.  4 fillies and three colts.  A very successful year!

This high has been punctuated with a very sad low.  On July19th, long time caretaker of the white horses and outstanding horseman, Meliton Ortiz, passed away with his family at his side.  He was 91 years young.  "Mellie", as he was called, spent most of his life involved with the Camarillo White Horses.  First working for Adolfo Camarillo on his ranch and becoming the ranch foreman, then later continuing on in that position under Adolfo's daughter, Carmen Camarillo Jones, until her death in 1987.  Her will specified the horses be dispersed at auction so an era came to an end.  That did not stop Mellie's involvement with the horses, however, as the new owners continued to seek his advice regarding the care and breeding of the horses.  Mellie will be sorely missed and all the members of the CWHA extend our condolences and best wishes to his family in this difficult time. 

We would like to give special thanks to Humphrey, Giacopuzzi Veterinary Hospital for providing such wonderful care of the Camarillo White Horses all these years, especially most recently for collecting and preserving our stallions to guarantee the longevity of the breed and for all their work and assistance in our breeding program.  They have been providing care for the Camarillo White Horses since the days when they were on the Camarillo Ranch.

 Last updated 7/25/10


History of the Camarillo White Horses




In the year 1911 or 1912, a brilliant white colt with brown eyes was born.  As he frolicked at his mother's side, it was unknown that he would become the foundation stallion for a breed of horse known as the Camarillo White Horse; which over the next 95 years would create a family tradition, a new breed of horse, and a legend as well.


In 1921, when Sultan was nine or ten years old, Adolfo Camarillo (Founder of the city of Camarillo, California) discovered this "Stallion of a Dream" and purchased him from the Miller and Lux cattle ranch at the Sacramento State Fair.


Sultan, over the next few years, won many stock championships throughout California.  Adolfo bred Sultan to Morgan mares at the Camarillo Ranch.  Adolfo never sold his land or a white horse: however, on rare occasions, the Camarillo family would make gifts of the prized white horses.


The Camarillo White Horses became famous over the years as they paraded and performed at fiestas and other activities.  They became well known at the Pasadena Rose Parades; attended the parade to open the Oakland Bay Bridge; a Los Angeles parade to raise war bonds; and went to the Santa Barbara Fiesta parades since they began in the '30's. Often dignitaries would be seen riding the Camarillo White Horses, including: President Harding, Governor Ronald Reagan; John Mott; movie star Leo Carrillo; and the son of President Gerald Ford.


Meliton Ortiz was the guardian of the Camarillo White Horses from the early '30's until 1987.  He had the responsibility of the care and breeding; as well as grooming many horses for each event they attended.  On December 31, 1937, "Mellie" as he was called, saved the white horses when a fire burned the Camarillo barn down.  The horses were released from the stalls, but were too frightened to leave the barn.  Being familiar with Mellie, the horses followed him to safety.


When Adolfo Camarillo died in 1958, the ownership of the horses fell to his daughter Carmen, who faithfully carried on parading the horses for the enjoyment of the people of Ventura County until her death in 1987. On December 12, 1987, according to her wishes, the horses were sold at public auction, ending the tradition of exclusive ownership of the majestic white horses by the Camarillo family.


The horses went their separate ways for the first time in 65 years.  The City of Camarillo especially felt the loss, as the Camarillo White Horses were a favorite entry at the annual Christmas parade and Fiesta parade.  The horses share the City's symbol with Adolfo Camarillo which appear on all the street signs, city vehicles, banks, Chamber of Commerce insignia, and shopping centers.


After the auction the horses were not seen until 1989, when Priscilla Galgas, Nadine Webb, Steven Pettit, Jane and Martin Gish decided to regroup the horses. Before long, the Camarillo White Horses were once again prancing to the standing ovations of the parade watchers, who truly love the symbolism of the old Spanish ways of California, which the horses have come to represent.


In 1991, with only eleven white horses remaining, it became apparent the horses could possibly die out.  The idea for an association began and in 1992 the Camarillo White Horse Association came into being.  The next year, three white foals were born, bringing the total to 15 Camarillo White Horses in Ventura County.


Currently, there are 20 known living white horses -- three stallions, 5 mares, 3 geldings, 2 two-year-old colts and 7 white foals born so far this year (2010).


Today, the individual owners continue to breed and parade the Camarillo White Horses to maintain the lineage and so the people can enjoy them and learn the story of the noble Camarillo White Horses.

Recently, the Camarillo White Horses were part of an international study to determine what gene or genes are responsible for the white coat color.  Several populations of white horses were part of the study, and it was discovered that the Camarillo White Horses carry a unique mutation of a certain gene partially responsible for coat color that is found only in the Camarillo White Horses.  With this new found knowledge, it can now be determined if a white horse that someone believes may be a Camarillo White Horse, is truly a Camarillo White Horse.  There are two laboratories that have coat color testing for this particular modified gene, one of which is UC Davis, in CA. 




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