The History of the =M Ranch
Double Bar M Ranch, set at the base of the rolling hills of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, has been a history maker and a place of pride and joy for the many horse enthusiasts who have past through its gates. It all started with Pete Mattioli’s desire to bring his daughter up around horses and in a good clean environment.
After growing up in San Francisco, Pete moved to Novato in 1967 and purchased a pony named King for his daughter, Amy. He also bought a couple of trail horses for himself and friends to ride. One of his friends suggested he get more involved in horses so he purchased a couple of mares to breed to a stallion he bought named Ricky Ruben. This same friend also mentioned that a horse named CAL BAR was for sale over at Arnold Dolcini’s ranch in Petaluma.
After seeing CAL BAR, Pete knew that he was the horse he
wanted to own. He was already the 1970 CRCHA Champion Hackamore
Horse, 1971 CRCHA Champion Stock Horse and the 1972 CRCHA
Champion Stallion. He also held the titles of 1973 Reserve
World Champion Stock Horse and 1973 Reserve World Champion
All Around Horse. Cal Bar was inducted into the Cow Horse Hall of Fame in 1979. Pete had been to a couple of cutting shows
and believed that he was also looking at a cutting horse
Pete purchased CAL BAR from Mr. Dolcini in 1973 and put him in training with a talented young trainer named Larry Reeder. It was a perfect match. In 1974, Larry Reeder and CAL BAR exploded onto the cutting horse scene and people quickly learned that they were the team to beat. CAL BAR won the 1974 PCCHA Champion Novice Cutting Horse title and also the 1974 PCCHA Champion Open Cutting Horse title, a feat which had never been accomplished by any horse. As an additional trophy, he ended up fifth in the 1974 NCHA Top Ten without even trying. CAL BAR was Joe Montana, Magic Johnson and Mozart all rolled into one. He had the brains, brilliance and the athletic ability to do it all. CAL BAR became a celebrity and one of the most popular horses to breed to.
Benita was raised on a farm in Utah where her family used horses to herd dairy cows and pull the hay wagon. Following her dream, she became a flight attendant for United Airlines and moved to New York where she lived when she met Pete in 1970. She quickly took an interest in Pete’s horse endeavors, attending many cutting events with him all over the country. When it became evident that they had outgrown their small ranch in Novato, Pete looked north to Santa Rosa and found the 21 acre property which is now the Double Bar M Ranch. Pete and Benita were married and set about the business of building the new breeding ranch.
During the next few years, the Double Bar M Ranch became known as a stallion station, standing not only CAL BAR, but other stallions as well, including San Peppy Doc, Cari County and Macho Hombre. Arenas and training facilities were added as necessary.
Pete and Benita knew they had a very special horse in CAL BAR but needed to prove that he could pass his talents on to his get. They purchased about 20 mares of their own to breed and became active in getting CAL BAR babies into the shows. CAL BAR quickly proved himself as a sire of champions as his talented offspring won title after title. During these years, Pete also became active in the PCCHA serving as a board member for seven years and was on the NCHA board for four years.
On April 17, 1990, CAL BAR passed away due to complications of intestinal kidney stone surgery. “It was a very difficult time,” said Benita today, “I still cry about loosing CAL BAR. And, if you ask Pete today he will tell you, “If we would have taken CAL BAR to show in the World competition of cutting back then, I have no doubts that he would have won that too.”
Pete has long since retired from the night club and restaurant business and Benita retired from United Airlines in 2001. Together they are still the "hands-on" managers of the ranch. "We love our boarding business", says Benita. "It has enriched our lives with all the wonderful people we get to meet." Pete and Benita still own and ride the last son born by CAL BAR, twenty one year old Cal’s Last Star.