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Templeton Farms founder donates horse ranch to UC Davis

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After spending nearly 15 years turning a modest North County ranch into a premier sport horse training and breeding center, Gina Bornino-Miller is retiring from Templeton Farms.

As for the thriving equine hub that she helped create—that's far from finished.

BIG DONATION Gina Bornino-Miller, owner of the Templeton Farms (pictured), is gifting her 52-acre sport horse ranch to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TEMPLETON FARMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Templeton Farms
  • BIG DONATION Gina Bornino-Miller, owner of the Templeton Farms (pictured), is gifting her 52-acre sport horse ranch to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

In an "extraordinary" move, Bornino-Miller is donating her entire 52-acre ranch in Templeton and its many state-of-the-art facilities to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

In a few months, the school's Center for Equine Health will move in and use the land to aid its mission of advancing "the health, welfare, performance, and veterinary care of horses through research, education, and public service."

"When I thought about what options I had for the business, it seemed to me like the best thing to do is get it into the hands of somebody who could utilize the facility going forward," Bornino-Miller told New Times.

When Bornino-Miller and her husband first opened Templeton Farms in 2011, they were simply looking to fill a void in local dressage facilities. A decade later, Templeton Farms is a nationally renowned training and breeding center—with one of its horses nearly qualifying for the Olympics last year.

"When we moved to the area there was no operation like it," Bornino-Miller said. "For me, I'm a serious rider and have been for years—it just seemed like there was a need in the county for what I built. I think we were successful at that."

Bornino-Miller is at peace with her decision to donate the ranch—calling it "a win-win for everybody." A UC Davis alumna, Bornino-Miller said she wanted to find a successor owner who could not only continue her business, but grow it into something "better."

Templeton Farms will carry on as usual, but UC Davis will be able to use the property's many valuable assets and facilities to grow its research and education programs.

"The farm is quite large. They're going to expand on what's already there," Bornino-Miller said. "They're thrilled. It's not something the university could fund themselves from ground zero. It's all set to go."

In a Dec. 16 press release, UC Davis officials expressed their gratitude for the donation and said they intend to use the ranch "to bring veterinary students, residents, researchers, and veterinarians together to tackle important problems affecting horse health."

"We are incredibly grateful to Gina for this extraordinary donation that supports the future of equine veterinary medicine," Carrie Finno, director of the school's Center for Equine Health, said in the press release. "Templeton Farms is a spectacular property with a reputation for excellence, and we are committed to providing top-quality care to boarders while enhancing our research and educational efforts to improve horse health and performance."

As for Bornino-Miller, she recently moved to Florida but plans on staying in touch with horses by getting involved in biotech research and equine medicine. She is also keeping three of her horses at Templeton Farms—there for whenever she wants a taste of her sweet past life and career on the Central Coast.

"I'm pleased with how it turned out," Bornino-Miller said.

Fast facts

• The SLO County Farm Bureau received the "County of the Year" award from the California Farm Bureau at a Dec. 6 annual meeting. Awarded to the county with the best "policy implementation, leadership, member services, agricultural promotion, and public relations," the statewide honor comes on the eve of the SLO County Farm Bureau's 100th anniversary. "The strength of the Farm Bureau is that we bring the entire farming, ranching, and agribusiness community together," Executive Director Brent Burchett said in a press release. "Uniting as a Farm Bureau amplifies our industry's voice in the public policy arena."

• Local nonprofit Jack's Helping Hand is asking for the community's support amid a spike in demand for its services supporting children with cancer and special needs. According to a recent press release, child support applications at Jack's Helping Hand jumped 40 percent this year, while fundraising has lagged due to the pandemic. "With the dramatic rise in the need for support for these very special children, Jack's Helping Hand is working diligently to provide all they can to alleviate the financial burden of a medically fragile child." For more information on how to contribute, visit jackshelpinghand.org. Δ

Assistant Editor Peter Johnson wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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