Crystal Ann Ward

October 16, 1955 to March 7, 2014

Crystal, who was born and raised in Santa Cruz, owned a variety of horses, mules and donkeys since she 
was old enough to ride.  Growing up in the country and surrounded by horses as a youth, Crystal was 
fortunate to experience what most young girls can only dream. 

In 1981 Crystal purchased her first mammoth jack donkey (“Cocky Doodle” from Montana) and shortly 
afterwards her second donkey (“Dry Gulch Michelle” from Oregon). After that she started gradually 
trading in her horses for the longears. 

Predominately a western rider, she also competed in English (hunt seat), driving, both English and western 
side-saddle riding. Crystal has been competing in equine events since 1969 including literally hundreds of 
parades throughout the United States. She rode in the 1989 Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, 
D.C., Oregon’s Rose Festival Parade, Arizona’s Fiesta Bowl Parade, and eighteen consecutive (18) 
Tournament of Roses Parades in Pasadena, California.

Crystal dedicated her entire lifetime with equines, from training, breeding and running a boarding facility, 
which amounts to nearly five decades of equine involvement.  In 1997 The Ass-Pen Ranch opened its doors 
to the public, designed with both breeding and training in mind.

Crystal was a judge in the following Associations: American Mule Assn. - since 1995, National Miniature 
Donkey Assn. - since 1996, North American Saddle Mule Assn. - (Senior Judge) - since 1995, American 
Donkey and Mule Society - since 1985, International Side-Saddle Organization - since 1981 and American 
Miniature Horse Assn. - since 1993.

She was instrumental in having the public become aware of the donkeys and burros that have suffered 
through countless decades of abuse and neglect through the hands of mankind and in the wilds through 
environmental stress and harsh conditions. 

Crystal enjoyed working in her garden, making jewelry, home improvement projects and had become 
interested in geology and rock collecting. She recently had set up a rock shop in an Airstream trailer.
She is survived by her father Harold Ward and brother Steve Ward. Preceded in death by her mother 
Norma Ward and her brother Greg Ward.

Private services were held by her family. Celebrations of Life will be held at various Donkey and Mule 
Shows by her friends.

Click here for a PDF file for everyone to share.

Final Thoughts by Jan Jensen


It is with a heavy heart and sadness that I must let you know that the final investigation report came out and they determined Crystal died in a murder-suicide.

The following is the complete list of press releases regarding the incident by the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office:

With respect to her family, this is the only press release that should be given out.  Other stories may embellish the tragic side of the story that we do not need to dwell on.

All of us that know and love her find this incredibly hard to believe and accept.  

Family and friends will continue to cherish her fond memories, incredible spirit and love for the donkey's and mule's of this world.  Please continue to pass on this legacy.

To Crystal - may your burdens be lifted and now you can ride on in peace!

Jan Jensen