This small photo recalls a very happy day when we bought Agracie Girl V from you, now proudly Agracie Girl V +++// Multi National, Regional and Scottsdale Champion!
Most importantly, she is a treasured and beloved member of our family who has brought us amazing joy and wonder. She has also brought her love and beautiful spirit to the many visitors we have had at the ranch, and has been our ambassador at many events ranging from ranch tours for school kids to the annual Pecan Festival at our farm attracting 15, 000 visitors. The other photo is the day we bought Romance V, years younger than Gracie, but very much following in her hoof prints.
All our Varian horses have surpassed our expectations, and made a loyal Arabian fan of formerly loyal quarter horse man, Dick Walden. Dick loves to surprise his fellow ranchers by roping off of Gracie and other Arabs, winning ribbons in Ranch Trail Competition and Halter at the Rancheros Visitadores, and out-striding their quarter horses and polo ponies on long trail rides in the hills!
When late in life, I finally had the chance to select and buy my first horse, I was lucky to find you. You were probably the only breeder in the world that could have convinced Dick Walden to buy an Arabian for his greenhorn wife. When he came to that first Jubilee, and heard you talk about the steps to make a bridle horse, and your mentors like Tom Dorrance, he knew you had a common language, “horse.” I remember so well how amazed I was that Dick wanted to buy one of your horses at that very first sale—you had won him over. (Of course you had me from “hello.”)
I was in a dreamlike trance as I watched the most beautiful creature I had ever seen come prancing into your show arena, and I heard you say to the crowd, “Kay Pasa V has been sold to that weeping woman over there in the corner of the stands!”
Bringing Kay Pasa V home to Arizona was another education for us both. We were amazed at how quickly she learned and how eager she was to please. We eventually would learn that is the hallmark of Varian Arabians, in addition to their glorious conformation and athleticism.
And so followed SC Chipawa Chinks (x Desperado V); Roulette V, Agracie Girl V, Breeze V, Flower Girl V, Ravven’s Skylark, Renegade Mac V, Romance V, Picante Jullyen V, and our wonderful foals from those great mares, including our first owned and bred 2x National Champion, Chicago Chaps RS (Jullyen el Jamaal x SC Chipawa Chinks).
Early on, Dick, the Thacher + gymkhana star said, “You don’t really want to show and all that, do you, that gets very involved and costly.” And I replied innocently, “Oh no, just maybe some schooling shows, since I never got to show as a kid.”
Six National Champions later, and many Scottsdale and Regional titles to boot, we are having more fun than kids. Many of the wonderful owners and trainers we have met in this business have become dear friends. And how we enjoy just going out on the trail or for a ride and picnic by the sea on our beautiful mounts!
Dick and I have always been grateful that you welcomed us from the very start, given how little we knew about the breed and the business of breeding, training and showing. You staff like Angela, Jaime, Mike, Micki, Israel, have been so kind to us too. You are always there for us, whatever time of day or night.
We know you have worked consistently to better the training methods, spread the word about techniques that are kind to the horses, and teach people that horses need to be turned out and treated like the freely moving animals God made them to be. The trainers we employ like Courtney Spicer and Jill Mitchell honor your example and practice that approach. They appreciate the consistency that generations of your breeding has created—it makes their job a genuine pleasure.
You have followed the compass of your dreams and achieved true excellence. You have stayed the course through the good and tough times. The accolades you have achieved at the Cow Palace and in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and from the Arabian Horse Association are well deserved. Remember most of all the delight you have given to us, the owners, and to those who share our horses with us.
Thank you Sheila, cowgirl extraordinaire. We believe the best is yet to come for you!
Nan and Dick
Nan and Dick Walden and the Rancho Sonado Herd