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 Sheila Varian is the human that I am closest to in the world of Arabian horses. We met in the seventies when I came to see her horses and bought Barbary at the age of four months. He went on to become an important stallion, winning many honors as an individual and a sire. For Sheila and me it was the beginning of a true friendship.

Our friendship continued through many years and many adventures. I learned a great deal from her as I became a breeder and owner of what was for a while a large herd. Of all the people I met in the horse world, and there were many from whom I learned, I found that Sheila's knowledge was grounded in using the horses, in breeding and training horses for use, whether it was on a ranch or in the hills of Connecticut, but always concentrating on intelligence and athletic ability as well as beauty and the ability to breed on.

Everything about her and her home expresses her life work of helping The Creator to create athletic, intelligent, beautiful horses. It is an amazing and beautiful ranch to visit and there are things to be learned about how to keep horses, how to breed them, train them, select the best and breed them on, always looking to make them better, and how to live on the land and respect it and keep it fertile and productive. In fact, how to live. That is because it is all part of a life that takes care not only how horses are treated but also people.

Sheila is an example to us all. I love her.

-Mike Nichols
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 


Every time I went to her farm I was amazed by the quality and the consistency of the Varian horses. It is fantastic what she has achieved. The whole world recognizes her abilities as a trainer and a breeder, most successful in the show ring, in halter and performance. There is no other that can be compared with her. 

It was a great honor to Ali Jamaal that she has chosen him to breed her most beloved mare, Sweet Inspiration V.  And it was even more than a great honor to me, when she decided she wanted to have *Jullyen El Jamaal for her breeding program.  Sheila, there is no one like you!

-Lenita Perroy

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

In 1955 I met a young lady called Sheila Varian. From the very beginning, I realized that this was a girl on a mission. She was obsessed with becoming as good a horseperson as she could possibly be.  Arabians were her key interest, and showing them as working cowhorses was high on her list of goals. Sheila learned at a rate that was unbelievable and soon showed a mare called Rotenza to win the Grand National against all breeds. Sheila Varian is a national treasure."

- Monty Roberts

 

 

 

 

 


 

In my opinion Sheila is the top breeder of performance and halter horses in the Arabian breed.  

She has bred horses that performed in nearly all the classes that we have and has won.  I judged Sheila in many classes where she showed her own horses – halter, English pleasure, park driving, Western pleasure and Western working.  Not many people did this. 

She attended a clinic once that I was conducting for Greg Gallun and, as she trotted by me, she made a face and stuck out her tongue at me.  That is the kid of relationship which we had.

I felt that she enjoyed riding in the hills and moving cattle more than she did showing.  I can understand that.

In the recent “Centennial 100” I bet a friend of mine $10.00 that Sheila would be #1.  She did not make it but she should have.  (Sheila you owe me $10.00.)
 
Sheila is #1 in my book!
 
-Peter Cameron
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sheila Varian is an impressive businesswoman with an exceptional talent for producing fine Arabian horses. At Ventura Farms, we have had the pleasure of owning several horses from her breeding program.  Her success and longevity is admirable and she continues to be one of the leading and most enduring Arabian horse breeding establishments in the world.

-David Murdock

 
 
 
 
 

 

 


I have known Sheila for close to 50 years.  I am proud to say Sheila is a good friend, going back to the days when she would send me English horses to train, and I'd send her Western horses. She taught me a lot about not only the training of Western horses, but horsemanship in general.

My admiration and respect for Sheila, is based on my belief that she genuinely loves her horses, is dedicated to constantly improving her breeding program, and is one of very very few that will not compromise her values or her horses for short term gain. She is truly one of a kind, a special person...a dear friend.
 
-Gene Lacroix
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 


There many famous horses in America which cross breed and discipline lines.   There are a few individuals in the horse world who do the same; Sheila Varian is our successful breeder and horseman from the Arabian world who has and continues to represent our Arabian Horse to the nation and world.  

 Thank you Sheila and we’re proud of you!
 
Glenn T. Petty
Executive Vice President
Arabian Horse Association

 

 

 

 

 


Having watched and admired Sheila’s breeding program for years (too many to mention) when we had several new clients we wanted to educate into the Arabian Horse business and show world it was a natural that we choose Varian Arabians to visit at the summer Jubilee two years ago. Having wanted to visit the farm for many years we were not disappointed. Not only were the horses in the Jubilee wonderful prospects for a breeding program but also, following the Varian standard, athletic and talented performance prospects. 

During that Jubilee our client, Larry Schopf, purchased a weanling colt by *Jullyen El Jamaal, Mark of Jullyen V. He was not in the sale but we talked Sheila into selling him to us after the mare walk on Sunday. At that time he was still on his mother, Mosquerade V.   He is now two years old and we are very excited for his debut next year as a Junior Western horse. He has great promise in the show ring but with his strong pedigree, beautiful dark bay color and charisma his first foals in 2010 should be worthy of the Varian V. 

Since that first visit to Varian Arabians we have brought back several new clients to Varian Arabians’ Spring Fling and picked out four more beautiful Jullyen daughters. The very kind and gentle 5 year old mare Beautiful Juell V, headed to the U.S. Nationals this year in the AOTH mare class with her new owner Larry Schopf. The very charismatic filly Morning Glory V, Champion sweepstakes yearling at Region 18 2008 and also Reserve Champion in the ATH mare class in Scottsdale with her new owner Dave May. Then jaws will drop when the May’s Jullyen daughter Shimmering Silk V jogs into the ring next year as a junior Western horse.   Our newest addition is Mikayla V, full sister to Morning Glory V and just named Reserve Champion Sweepstakes filly at Region 18. These fillies have the strong dam lines that are so important to today’s breeding programs thanks to the excellence demanded by Sheila.
 
We as trainers and breeders really appreciate Sheila’s help and guidance and the wonderful opportunity to find the new generation of breeding and performance horses for our clients.

Keep educating us Sheila. The industry needs your years of knowledge and experience. 
 
We will be back next year when the roses are blooming in Arroyo Grande.
 
Dan and Judy Lynch
Dan Lynch Farms
Cross Plains Wisconsin
 

Dear Sheila,

What a wonderful collection of fillies we have assembled with your assistance!

Beauty, confirmation, level headedness, elegance and graceful movement are apparent in all of them in their own unique sort of way. I still remember seeing Morning Glory V for the first time at your Spring 2008 Jubilee. You could hear the audience, and myself, literally gasp when she came out of the holding barn into the arena. Her movement and presence was so impressive. She was clearly large and in charge, floating across the outdoor arena floor at liberty, capturing the undivided attention and admiration of everyone there.
 
Sitting here today, it is hard to imagine that Terri and I came out to Arroyo Grande in April 2008 simply to meet you and enjoy your Spring Jubilee, attempting to learn as much as we could about the Arabian horse and the philosophy and principles behind your work. When the weekend came to an end, we had purchased Glory and Silk without regret. I just had a gut feeling it was the right thing to do. Our first two performance horses without hesitation…WOW!
 
At that time, secretly in my own mind, I had already penciled in the April 2009 event where we purchased Glory’s full sister, Mikayla.
 
From a Region 18 Championship or two to The US Nationals where Glory placed 11th to Scottsdale where Glory took Top Ten in the Open Halter Class and where she took Reserve Champion in the ATH Class under my nervous hand, it has been an exciting year and a half for Terri and myself, meeting new people, having new experiences and appreciating the beauty, elegance and grace of the Varian Arabian filly.
 
Thanks for becoming such a trusted friend, advisor and mentor as we continue to learn our way forward. You are a legend and your work is legendary.
 
Our future with Jullyen’s offspring can only be described as full of possibilities which makes today and beyond very exciting for us.
 
Warmest Regards,
 
Dave & Terri May
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Over the past 5 years, I have purchased three horses from Varian Arabians. During that time, they all have won Top Tens at the National, Regional and Scottsdale level. They have been Regional Champions and Reserve Champions in the open and amateur divisions. One has already achieved his Legion of Honor after competing at only ten shows.   

When you purchase a horse from Varian Arabians, they come to you already a good citizen. The Varian program teaches them the foundation they need to be able to get along anywhere. Plus, they are just plain nice to be around. When you come to a Varian event, there are no horses standing in the back of their stalls, they are all up front, waiting to meet you. Any mare with a baby at her side that was born and grew up at Varian, will always come up to you in the fields. 

I have made many lifelong friends while attending Varian events and it’s always like a family reunion when we meet up at the Summer Jubilee each year.   I’m just having a heck of a good time with my Varian horses! Thanks to Sheila and the staff at Varian Arabians for making my dreams come true.   

-Vicki MacFerren – BV Arabians - Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Bravo V                                       Bouncer V                                            Mariachi Kid V


What is there to be said about the beloved Mdm. Varian that hasn't yet been said??  Anyone that loves the Arabian horse knows the story of Sheila and her start in the breed.. the days of Bay Abi...the three matriarchs from Poland...then Bay el Bey..then Huck..then Desperado..then Jullyen...and the myriad of horses and stories in between.  Since my early days in the breed (pre-ownership and breeding)..I would search thru any horse publication I could get my hands on to find where the ad for Varian Arabians was.  I would see the various horses, most with the golden hillside as the back drop (ok..they were  black and white photos in those days.. but none the less..) and make notes to myself.  I admired and dreamed of having such fine horses someday.  I kept tabs on the show records and breeding records of the various Varian horses as best I could from a far.  The library and horse periodicals gave way to the wonderful world of the internet and my research (obsession..) continued.

I finally decided to make my dream a reality and start my own breeding program.  Where better to go than the world famous Varian Arabians??  I called and made an appointment, speaking with Sheila directly.  (I have to admit, although I have worked with celebrities for quite some time.. I was star struck!!)  I was going to actually meet THEE mythical Sheila Varian. 

I purchased my first horse on that visit (the 10 day old Marilyn V), but started something much more on that same day...my friendship with the incredible Mdm. Varian herself.  

Since that first meeting, we have developed a friendship that I can only say is priceless!  My favorite memory (so far) is not the incredible stories (although I adore them..)..not the multitude of discussions on the various horses (although a book could be written on that alone).. not the lessons in legs and structure (book two)...but one single day that I spent with Sheila at the farm.  A day I will never forget!!

It started the way our days usually do with us talking about the various new babies at the farm and of the horses that I had seen in my travels.  But then the day took a turn that I never expected.   Sheila asked if I would like to ride Lightly!!!  I had heard about him for ages...he was the culmination of Sheila's years of patience and development.  He was the poster boy of the "Varian Horse".  He was the RollsRoyce of horses...the perfect example of "cowboy dressage"!! 

And she asked me "if"..??  

After a few words of wisdom and direction, I was in the saddle.  Sitting on his back I was taken back in time to when a young Sheila rode her horses in the hills of the central coast.  Back to a time before Bay Abi..the three matriarchs from Poland..then Bay el Bey..then Huck..then Desperado..then Jullyen..and the myriad of horses and stories in between...being on Lightly for those few unforgettable moments, made me feel as if I had been there all along!!

-Kirk Bardole

I started my Varian journey buying the perfect gelding from Sheila’s Collection horses in 1997. Stetson V+ was to be my show horse but ended up being my “everything” horse. After years riding competitive trail and working cattle, he has a very large fan club – he’s the Arabian that all non-Arabian people want to own. I’d be rich if I got a dollar for every time someone said “I don’t like Arabians but I sure do like yours”.

It was the summer of 2005 when I got a call from Sheila asking me to join her for the 1st Annual AHA Trail Ride in Fort Robinson, Nebraska. She wanted beautiful Varian Arabians at the ride so off to Nebraska we went. The 2nd year to Nebraska found us behind the wheel of her BAT – and the adventure began. If you saw her 2006 Christmas letter you may remember our extremely exciting trip. We broke down twice, discovered the power of USRider, and met our new friend, Mike, the tow truck guy. It was on this trip that I fell in love with Sheila Varian.

She is a woman with special insights and ways of seeing things – about horses, of course, but about life, as well. And the way she shares what she sees is unique and endearing. She’s down-home while being up-town. I started listening to her and things got better in my life. She is quick to laugh and quick to praise – but also quick to critique. And you must take heed or you will miss the golden gems that only she can mine.

Sheila is a dear friend. I will always cherish those special times when she connected with a dying girl, felt compassion for a very sick horse, and helped me become a better horsewoman. And I will always treasure those critical moments when I was told that my bicycle pants and hornless pommel would ruin all the photos and that my beautiful horse shouldn’t be wearing such an ugly bit. Your friends should give it to you straight – good and bad – and that’s what Sheila does. From her advice in choosing the right Varian horse, through her professional encouragement and attention in training him well, to a friendship that is valued, I recommend Sheila Varian, her capable staff, and flawless breeding program to anyone seeking to attain the immense pleasure that I enjoy.

 

-Kathleen  Green

 

 

 

 


Sheila Varian – In a Few Words? Not possible.

 
Sheila Varian has made an impact on the Arabian horse breed that exceeds any other – single handedly (with a gentle nod to her parents). She is unquestionably the ultimate spokesman in our industry. Her presentations are full of humor, secret insights, and optimism - her audience hanging on her every word, laughing at every humorous anecdote, marveling at her knowledge. She’s a rock star! 
 
For me, however, the best part of knowing Sheila has been as a friend....having lunch or dinner together....laughing or crying in our salads. For any question or problem I have presented, either personal or professional, Sheila has given me an answer – honestly and frankly. I have tried to do the same for her. When Sheila shares with us her thoughts, hopes, opinions, disappointments, joys and sorrows, she always speaks directly from her heart.
            
What makes her so unique and brilliant? Is it that fabulous eye for detail – from her tack to her attire? Is it that tough, virtual businesswoman-suit she wears, making sure that every penny is wisely spent? Is it that amazing history, revealed to us with such self-depreciating humor? Is it that wisdom about breeding horses? Is it that love for the real world of cattle ranching, round-ups, and the American West? Is that unbelievable record for producing the winningest strain of horses in the world? Is it her honesty and compassion as a friend? 
 
Yes.
 
-Joanne Fox
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In all of life, there are those who set themselves apart from others by the example, skills and integrity they achieve in their profession. A reputation of success, built over a lifetime of dedication to ones passion, is not a unique story. Many have accomplished this feat. What is unique however, is that the percentage of people who totally dedicate every day of their life to their dream is almost non existent. The achievements accumulated by the Varian Arabians success story will probably never be duplicated by another Arabian farm. The greatest testimonial that can ever be made is to say that you made a difference in someone's life. From Bay Abi, Ronteza and beyond the story is one that motivates others to dare to dream. I am honored to call Sheila Varian my friend. Honor and Humility are two words that are synonymous with Sheila and the success she has accomplished. Thanks for all you have done to keep my dreams alive.

-Larry Jerome
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 Sheila Varian is a "Living Legend". I first came in contact with Sheila in 1981 in Connecticut. She was part of a training seminar with other huge names but Sheila is all I can remember from the weekend. Some of the most amazing yet simple techniques I learned from her back then, were great lessons in horsemanship that I most definitely apply daily. Her horsemanship carries over with her horses when they are long gone from the Varian Ranch for all of their lives. Every time I work a Varian horse my appreciation deepens for her breeding program and I, as so many of my clients, are very grateful.

-Liz Bentley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


My connection to Sheila Varian goes back to my childhood when I would sit on my bedroom floor and read the Arabian Horse News and Arabian Horse Journal. There she was on the cover and throughout the magazines – a woman trainer winning on her Arabians. There were very few women trainers when I was a kid, and even fewer who could beat the boys. Sheila was, and continues to be an inspiration to me, and I have the privilege of calling her my friend. I’ve trained many Varian bred horses over the years, and appreciate both their beauty and ability. With so few tried & true breeding programs out there, it’s nice to know what you are going to get with a Varian bred horse.
-Kelly Elm

  

 

 

I was lucky enough to borrow Lightly Bey V, Sheila Varian’s best trail horse & companion, for a couple of days while riding in the hills with Sheila and friends. Now that's a trail horse! Our condolences to Sheila on the loss of Lightly Bey V in late 2008.

 
 If I would have to use one word to describe what I feel about Sheila it would be: RESPECT.  I respect Sheila in all aspects of her professional involvement in the Arabian industry.  She had a vision and she has pursued it with a great degree of consistency.  She created a look that we can call the Varian Arabia

On a more personal level I adore Sheila's stories.  She is one of the best story tellers I know.  We met years ago when I was still in Seattle.  Sheila had been invited as the guest at the local Arabian club's meeting.  I was her driver and guide. We spent many hours driving together visiting local breeders, and this was the beginning of Sheila telling her stories and me listening.  I still remember how delightful it was...just to listen. 

Many years later I was involved in leasing the Polish stallion Ganges for Mike Nichols.  Before the Scottsdale show I kept him at a private ranch North of Phoenix.  Sheila is a great friend of Mike's and of course she knew that this Monogramm son was in Arizona.  She called me and set up an appointment.  We spent 4 hours together with Ganges and I think that it was the most educating 4 hours in my life.  We talked bloodlines, we reminisced horses from the past.  She explained her beliefs and disbelief's.  It was great.

Now, years later, whenever I see Sheila I'm like a little kid looking for some ice cream...I can't wait for another Sheila story.

-George Zbyszewski

 

 

 

 


 

My family has been in the Arabian Horse world for almost fifty years. I first noticed Sheila Varian when my parents pointed her out to me in Estes Park Colorado. Her stallion had won a National Championship they said. As a young girl I watched Sheila every time I had the chance. At Scottsdale, at the Nationals on her English horses and often the only "girl" in the class. I loved watching her. She was tall and skinny like me and if she could ride, train and compete on a National level, well, maybe I could also.

As the years went by my Father as President of AHA and my Mother as an avid student of breeding and pedigrees often spoke of their respect for Sheila. When my brother decided to become a trainer where better to learn than from Sheila. Bill Haven spent five years with Sheila and she became one of the main mentors in his life. During those years we heard many funny Sheila stories. We were also excited by the wonderful horses she was producing.

Throughout my life I have loved the Arabian Horse. That love affair has been made more special by knowing Sheila Varian. Several years ago Sheila once again impacted the life of another Haven. My daughter has also fallen in love with horses. Sheila extended her mentorship and has helped Lizzy become the equestrian she is today. My daughter's first National quality show horse we bought from Sheila. My brother trained him and Sheila directed Liz and Bizmark V from the sidelines. They have won multiple Top Tens, Legion of Merit and a Reserve National Championship. Both Liz and I not only call Sheila a good friend these days we also call her our neighbor.
 
Thank you Sheila for touching our lives,
Jane and Lizzy Haven
Arroyo Grande Ca.

 

 

 

 


I have had the privilege of working with Sheila through the Arabian Breeders Association and the Arabian Horse Association for many years and have seen her professionalism, talents and passion for the Arabian horse up close and personal.

Sheila is an outstanding horseman, and a master breeder. The consistency she has obtained throughout the years in breeding athletic, beautiful and loving Arabian horses with that “Varian” look is truly remarkable.

As Arabian enthusiasts we should all aspire to achieve just a fraction of the accomplishments Sheila has obtained. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know Sheila and to have worked with her on behalf of the Arabian horse.
 
-Sue Meyer
 

My friendship with Sheila has Longevity!!  I remember all her "GREATS"; Stallions, Mares and Geldings, and I have had the privilege of judging many of them throughout their show careers.  Blue ribbons, Championships and National Champions were awarded so many times it would take pages to list them. A remarkable Horsewomen and Breeder, she has given a lifetime to promoting the Arabian Horse not only in the Halter ring, but from Park horses to Working Cow horses and everything in between. The most important thing is that she is still doing it!  For many years she has opened her ranch twice a year for educational seminars and select sales for the public to purchase quality horses. Nothing could have been more thrilling for me than to visit the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth Texas and see Sheila's picture among the greats of the women in our Western World.  WOW!!   Sheila is a person who can seize the moment and isn't that what life is all about? 

-Cecile Dunn    

 

 

 

 

 


Although I have never been fortunate enough to own a Varian Arabian, I have been a fan of the Varian horses and of Sheila herself since my childhood in the 1960s. By the time I started going to Arabian shows, Bay Abi++ had already been U.S. National Champion Stallion and Sheila had imported her three great Polish foundation mares, *Ostroga, *Bachantka and *Naganka, all destined to produce National winners. In the early days Sheila rode most of her National winners to their titles. One of my most memorable moments as a spectator was seeing her ride Mikado++ to the 1971 U.S. National Park Championship. Mikado++ trotted at breakneck speed and made a breathtaking picture of a dapple grey stallion with a white mane and tail and a lithe rider who seemed to be one with him. Mikado++ was a National Champion sire and was a full brother to multi-National Champion Stallion Bay-El-Bey++, whose son Huckleberry Bey++ thrilled me whenever I saw him, either in hand or under saddle. Another favorite of the Varian stallions was Desperado V, who although not a National winner, has sired many in a wide range of disciplines from halter to reining to dressage. I saw him many times at Scottsdale as Sheila would bring him with the show string she took each year. The Varian barn at Scottsdale was THE place to go to get up close and personal with the horses, no Varian horse was shut away behind curtains and not allowed to be seen.

Sheila sells horses as good as the ones she keeps. Afire Bey V, the breed’s current leading living sire of National winners, seven time National winner and sire of National Champions Barbary+++, Sundance Kid V (sire of 20 National winners including National Champions in halter and performance), etc. And the Varian mares! Sheila’s program has so many Arabian Horse World Aristocrats (mares with 4 or more champions) that they haven’t all been published yet. Sheila has always been a visionary, adding horses to her breeding plans to achieve her vision of the best possible Arabian. She leased Khemosabi++++// and bred his first foal crop, which contained his best breeding son, Canadian Reserve National Champion Stallion Kaiyoum++, and his most influential daughter, Moska, dam of 9 champions and foundress of a dynasty of National winner producers. A few years back Sheila added *Jullyen El Jamaal to her stallion roster, and he is now the top-siring son of Ali Jamaal, with 25 National winners already to his credit.
 
You can’t go wrong with a Varian horse. Sheila is the only breeder I can think of who has had National winners in halter AND both saddleseat and western performance for over 40 years…and may she go on for many more years to come.
 
-Arlene Magid 

I have found Sheila to be knowledgeable, straightforward and passionate about her breeding program and for that matter the Arabian breed in general! She has a special wisdom that comes with years of experience and success. The Varian influence is seen throughout all disciplines and has truly stood the test of time.

-Jeff Schall

 

 

 

 

 

 


I have been breeding Arabian horses for 40 years. My breeding program started in the Black Forest in Germany. In reading Arabian Horse World I learned of this incredible lady who beat all the “big guys” on their Quarter horses at the Cow Palace in San Francisco on her little Arabian mare. I heard people talking about her and always wondered whether I would ever have the chance to meet this famous lady.

Years later I was introduced to Sheila Varian and I was a little intimidated by this famous icon and worried that she would even talk to me! I found out that Sheila was easily approachable and happily told me stories about her and her mare Ronteza.

We became partners in our stallion *Sanadik El Shaklan and our business relationship was a wonderful one. We both profited from that. Sheila helped to make a statement for my breeding program in endorsing my stallion and in return was awarded with some very nice daughters who have been successful broodmares for her breeding program. 

Sheila did not hesitate to help out when I lost my beloved *El Shaklan. She was very accommodating for me to buy *Sanadik El Shaklan back for my breeding program.

Sheila is the most accomplished Arabian horse breeder in this country. She has achieved what many breeders only dream about. I am very proud to call her my friend and I am also very proud to have my bloodlines integrated in the famous Varian breeding program.

Sigi Constanti
OM EL ARAB INTERNATIONAL LLC


I was very lucky to meet Sheila during a weekend guest ride at her cousins ranch in Parkfield. Sheila was just "along for the ride" but as anyone can testify who knows her as a horsewoman and a person, she's never "just" along for the ride!!  Once I realized how eager to teach AND generous with her time she was I took every opportunity to ride with her or just watch how she handled her horse, Jubilation.  And on top of all the wisdom she was sharing, I was delighted to meet a wise woman.
I never expected to have an Arabian, or one of Sheila's renowned Arabians but last November my Peruvian Paso gelding colicked.  After a lot of crying and some reflection I was ready to get another horse and I contacted Sheila thinking she might have a horse colleague who had a horse for sale in my price range.  Much to my surprise Sheila suggested a six year old gelding of hers.  He was a bit more pricey than I planned on but the minute I saw him, saw him ridden, and rode him myself I knew I had found the right horse for me.  And despite all the "warnings" I got about "hot Arabians" and all, and a 53 year old getting a youngish horse, Sheila turned out to be absolutely right, he's a horse with plenty of calmness for me to be safe, and enough spirit to be a wonderful companion.  In the arena he looks flashy, in his paddock he looks like a placid fawn, and on the trail he is Pegasus.  It meant so much to me that Sheila checked me out on him so thoroughly. We had an outing on her property and got to encounter everything from weird fencing to loose horses and while Luca clearly proved he was a good enough horse for me, I hope I showed I was a good match for him too.  And Sheila has kept in touch, we've had lots of fun conversations about Luca's and my progress. I think Sheila doesn't sell her horses, she shares them.  Tonight I'll end my long work day by going to his paddock, hearing a gentle whinny, and giving him a snack.  And whispering a thank you to the universe for introducing me to Sheila Varian.
 
-Lisa Capaldini

My dream and idea of becoming an Arabian horse photographer became tangible while standing alone in the “sandlot” full of mares with my new camera.  I will always be indebted to “Miss Sheila” for being so generous with her land and horses.

One year later, doing the same thing, I took a shot of Calendar Girl, one of her beautiful and wonderfully social bay mares, as she walked right to me. Wind was blowing her mane and she looked right through my camera. That photo started a whirlwind for me and hangs on my office wall as one of my favorites still. 

Five years later. I find myself in the Varian guesthouse preparing to drink wine and eat ocean side with this icon…and now my friend, Sheila Varian!  Sheila tells amazing stories, as you all know, but often I have found the life lessons, advice and humor to bring me to tears. I always choke them back for fear she will stop, but immediately write them down in my journal when I get home, so I never forget. 

One of my favorite recent quotes is (she claims to not remember the great things she says!) “If you’re always focused on being #1, then you forget the road you’ve traveled” For a woman with her caliber and life experience, I found this to be so humble. Her ability to live in the present and to absorb life is awe-inspiring. It’s always about the horses, always has been. That’s what makes her so unique, so full of joy. 

One of my goals since I stepped foot on the ranch that first day, was to be on the “Varian Wall” in the big barn. It happened this year! What an honor it was and a privilege to be included in that rich history.

The Arabian industry, my life and this world have been spicier, truer and full of substance with her in it!

 Love you Sheila! Thank you for everything!
 
-April Visel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


My first brush with the inimitable Sheila Varian was, like so many countless others, as a young girl thumbing through the pages of Arabian horse magazines until the ink bled onto my hands. I would diligently cut out photos of Sheila’s horses and pin them to my wall, dreaming of a time that I could meet them and the woman who created such an incredible legacy out of sheer genius and passion. I do not remember a time in my childhood that I was not mesmerized from afar by Sheila and her horses, and to feed my need for any connection to all things Varian I wrote many fan letters to Sheila, Bay Abi and Bay El Bey. I may have been 7 years old and thousands of miles away but when the response letters would arrive I was thrilled. In the tiniest of ways I was connected with my hero.

 At horse shows decades later, my friends, (who had all heard me regale them with stories of Sheila and the great Ronteza winning the World, Sheila and BayAbi winning the National Championship etc. etc.)) always encouraged me to go and introduce myself to Sheila. I couldn’t. She once sat down directly in front of me and myheart stopped. I was speechless, which for me is uncharted territory.
 
Thank my stars the universe has this wonderfully magic serendipitous way of bringing everything full circle and through my friend and genius April Visel, I finally made my way to Sheila’s farm and have never looked back. It is one thing to worship a childhood hero, it is quite another when that person exceeds those expectations.
 
On my life’s to-do list, filming for Sheila Varian was at the very top and I am so proud that Sophie and I have now filmed for her and even prouder to call her a friend. As a born storyteller myself, I relish our talks together and always learn something new. Sheila is quite simply the smartest, truest, most delightful, joyous human being I have ever known and certainly one of the greatest breeders, horsewomen and horse lovers the world has ever seen. Her compass is always pointed in the right direction and if I’m ever feeling adrift, a day at the farm, walking the barns and the pastures and telling stories with Sheila is the sure cure.
 
I now own an Afire BeyV granddaughter, my very own horse connection to Sheila. I hope to bring her up to Sheila’s for training very soon. I love you Sheila-- open the gate and let’s get to storytelling!
 
-Jen Miller
Horsefly Films

 

 

 


Curt and I both consider ourselves fortunate indeed to count Sheila Varian as a friend. Not only is she enormous fun to be around, but even after years of breeding extremely high quality Arabian horses, she is still keeping watch for that horse, person, or method which will further enhance her program, if even in a small way. Sheila never rests on her laurels. By her very example, she encourages us to greet life each day with eagerness, vigor, curiosity, and a tireless commitment to the creation of something beautiful.

Beyond our friendship, are we pleased with the horses we’ve purchased from Sheila?

Well, in the last three years, we’ve purchased two young Varian-bred mares as “brides” for our senior stallion, Botswana. Sheila thought it “might be a good idea” to show them a little before they were ready to breed. And so, first, Sweet Stella V was a Top Ten Yearling Signature Stallion Filly at the 2008 Scottsdale show (out of 94 fillies)—and, then last month,   Kissemee Jullyen V (just four years old and seven months in training with Liz Bentley) was named Region 13 Reserve Champion Junior Western Horse.”

Curt and I are way more than just a little pleased, Sheila!

Allison Mehta-Westley
TALARIA FARMS (Newnan, Georgia)

“Sheila Varian - Steeped in wisdom, charming, tough, sensitive, contemporary, smart, unique, inspirational.”
Curt Westley
TALARIA FARMS (Newnan, Georgia)


I have known Sheila Varian since the early 70's...we met at Lasma and it was an honor to meet her! I have also admired her sense of humor which includes her strong character of being mischievous. Of course at that time, she was riding with the LaCroix boys and she did give them a run for their money with her English and Park horses. It was all in the name of fun! Oh yes those Halter stallions too!

Sheila I consider to be a "DEAR DEAR FRIEND" and I am so proud to know her and her horses. Oh we have had a lot of fun throughout the years!!!

Of course now with A-Jakarta, we seem to be even more family with Varian Arabians as I have always but always LOVED *Jullyen El Jammal !!!

The continuation of our friendship and breeding of Arabian horses will always be CLOSE to my Heart with Sheila !!! She has a "V" Star (aka "5" Star) Farm and I am honored to be a part of her program with A-Jakarta.

Always,
Aude Espourtelle

It is with great pleasure that we write about our good friend, Sheila Varian.  Although a lot has separated us for many years, due to distance and other missions (on our part), we will never forget our first visit to Varian Arabians. We saw a horse with whom we had a wonderful relationship up until his passing in May of 2000.  His name was Moonstone Bey V.

Words cannot express how sad we were to lose Moonstone, but how very honored we were to have him in our lives.
 
When we first visited Varian Arabians, we were shown the magnificent horse, Bay-El-Bey only then to be introduced to his son, Moonstone Bey V.   Moonstone was by Bay-El-Bey out of Moska, who was out of Baychatka, by Khemosabi.      These horses represented incredible bloodlines that derived from the magnificent horses of Poland. Baychatka was out of Bachantka, who was out of Balalajka.
On the sire’s side, Baychatka’s sire was Bay-Abi, by Errabi.  Bachantka’s sire was Wielki Szlem out of Ofir.

I can honestly say that as I write this note, I am crying!  What an honor it was to be associated with Sheila who so smartly and carefully maintained a legacy that will forever be Sheila’s and only Sheila’s.

 God Bless Moonstone Bey V and his many offspring who continue his legacy today.
 -Audrey Fisher

I have seen Sheila work.  Her Vaquero horsemanship is traditional and very expert.  She has mastered an ancient art.

-Robert M. Miller DVM

 

 

 

 

 

 


Six months ago my husband Bob and I set out to purchase our first purebred Arabian mare. It seemed an overwhelming task at the time, since I’ve not been involved with the Arabian horse world since I was a horse crazy girl, growing up down the road from Gleannloch Farms in Spring, Texas.    We started our quest at the 2009 Scottsdale show where we met many breeders and trainers, and viewed hundreds of spectacular horses. But, it didn’t take long for us to narrow our search. We wanted a mare with a gentle temperament, intelligence, athleticism and beautiful Arabian type … in short, we wanted a Varian Arabian. Secondly, we wanted to deal with someone with a reputation for professionalism, honesty and fair dealing … in short, we wanted to deal with Sheila Varian.    Sheila took the time to get to know us, answer countless questions, host us at her farm, and only then suggest Breathless V as a good match. Not only is Breathless V a good match, she is a dream come true … everything I’ve always wanted in an Arabian mare. Thank you Sheila for sharing this wonderful mare with us and for helping to open a whole new chapter in our lives.     

-Bob & Sherry Conrads

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sheila Varian is one of the very few people I can point to and say, "That is a true breeder".  Shelia's commitment to her vision of the Arabian horse has created a dynasty that combines beauty with correctness and athletic ability.  I love the fact that Shelia  demands that her horses perform as well as look beautiful.  That is as it should be, but sadly is fading from the breeding scene.   I was honored to have been able to work at Varian Arabians in the early days with Bay Abi, Bey el Bey, Huckleberry Bey and the great mares like *Bachantka, Balalinka (one of my favorites!), Baychaska, Halali Wind Kite, Moska, Ostroga  and others.   My experience with those horses built a lasting foundation for my knowledge base, that continues to this day!!!  I thank Shelia and her program for that education.

 -Cindy Reich

 

 

 

 

 


It has been such a great privilege for our entire family to have gotten to know Sheila; always full of life, inspirational and forthcoming.

 I look forward to our periodic phone calls/emails discussing breeding philosophy, the showing of horses and the health of our industry. And of course, Sheila always has a humorous story to share; usually about another humbling miss-hap on one of her favorite stallions, or an inspirational anecdote demonstrating the amazing versatility of our breed.
 
I can't imagine an Arabian horse show without the ever present influence of Sheila "V" in the Winners' Circle; unquestionably one of our breed's Greatest Ambassadors, and certainly most Successful Breeders.
 
-Jerry Garcia

We first met Sheila at her Summer Jubilee in 2005 and purchased  Kleopatra Jullyen V from her immediately we laid eyes on her.  Because of Sheila's depth of knowledge and her ethics as a breeder,  we knew that Kleopatra would be a superb breeding mare for our  program, being about as fully rounded as one could get for halter and performance, with a superb temperament. Kleopatra has produced  some incredible foals for us and this is in no small part due to  Sheila's true understanding of her business. 

-Stuart and Sue Larsen
 

I met Sheila when she was a guest speaker up here in Washington, many years ago. Her knowledge and enthusiasm was very inviting. We joked and laughed and she called me crazy Ron. We have been friends ever since. Years later I had the opportunity to spend some time with her looking at horses in California. We spent the day looking at horses, talking about horses, thinking about horses solving the worlds problems, mostly laughing a lot. We ended the day going for a trail ride just her and I on her two geldings. When the day was done I was exhausted from all the knowledge flowing form her and the realization that I had just scratched the surface of what she has seen and knows. Since then I've been back for a Jubilee in summer and we have kept in contact ever since. We have done some business together and talked about the weather a lot, and always has she made me feel important and supported me in every way. A good example is US in Tulsa, when I had less than one of my better moments, there was Sheila at my stalls later consoling me after I just hit the dirt saying "..there wasn't anyone at this horse show that could have rode that colt today, and if they didn't know who you were before they sure will know who you are now..." We again laughed and moved on. I enjoy every time I get to talk to her or spend time with her. She's a blessing to this horse business. 

–Ron Copple

 

 

 

 

 

 


"Sheila is the horseman's horseman!  She is a mentor for the Arabian breed! I have always looked to her and her program as a leader in the industry."
-Roxanne Hart


My husband and I met Sheila Varian in the early days of our 15+ years in the Arabian horse business. One of the things that struck me about her is that even though we were working with another breeder at that time, she was always a wealth of information for us.  She shared her breeding strategies, invited us to her special showings, never pushed us to buy anything even though many times I wanted to, and even more impressive, she could ride a horse better than any man or woman I had ever seen.  Sheila lives through and with her horses. She is fair, honest and never would sell you anything that wasn’t a good fit. It is a rarity to find someone in this business that is actually looking out for you and not for themselves.  Sheila has a solid program and knows bloodlines like a history book, and what works with what through her many years of total dedication and devotion to the breed.  Sheila breeds horses for every kind of discipline, including folks that are looking for a simple but quality trail horse.  Over the years Sheila has become a personal friend and because of her, I have learned so much about the beautiful horses and enjoy having a few laughs together while in the presence of her magnificent Arabians.  Sheila is an example of the modern day cowgirl!


-Deborah Emery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

My experience with Sheila, the horses and the Varian Ranch has all been wonderful. With Sheila what you see is what you get—a rarity in the horse industry. She knows her horses and her bloodlines, and has a knack for making a good horse and rider match. My horses are perfect for what I want, good minds, good athletes and versatile. As youngsters they have been everywhere and done everything, taking it all in stride in and out of the arena. I would have a pasture full if I could.

-Hilary Austen

 

 

 

 

 


 

Purchasing a young mare from Sheila Varian several years ago has been a rewarding experience. Sheila is very honest and portrays her horses as theyare.  In addition to quality and beauty they have the most wonderful personalities of any Arabians I have ever been around! Varian Arabians program for breeding, care and training is top notch. I love my horse with the "V" and am happy I was able to be a part of the Varian tradition!

-Debbie Mullinax

Kewel Jewel V

 

 

 

 


Sheila gave me the opportunity of a lifetime when she hired me to work at Varian Arabians. One of my first memories was her telling me to go out and bring in two of the two year olds out of the field because we needed to get started. The two that I picked were Bey Aperitif V and Marigold V. I won both of those mares' first blue ribbons and loved them both dearly. When I was there Bay Abi++, *Ostroga, *Bachantka, Autumn Fire,  Balalinka, Bay El Bey ++, Huckleberry Bey++, and Comment were horses that I saw and worked around every day. In fact Huckleberry Bey++ and Comment were in their prime and Bay El Bey++ was ridden daily by me until he left for Rohara Arabians when they leased him. Another memory was of my husband, Mark [ he also worked for Sheila ] and I getting our first show season clothes. We picked out matching black suits with white lining. I was so proud that year at Scottsdale we showed Sweet Inspiration V and Sweet Illussion V in the produce of dam class. They were both black with white markings so we matched the beautiful fillies. Pretty heady stuff for a young kid starting out . Sheila was a great teacher and didn't mind spending time showing you new ideas. Being young back then cool was everything and I can remember thinking " oh no Sheila you can't mean that nobody does that " but she always did. Now almost thirty years later I find myself doing many of those "uncool" things because they work. I'm not sure any of us knew at the time how much greatness we were around. But thinking back I remember knowing that these were days I would never forget and I haven't. I owe a lot to Sheila for that experience. 

-Martha Murdock

 

 

 

 

 


I've known Sheila Varian for the last part of 30 years. When I first became involved with Arabian horses her breeding program and quite frankly her training program as well were of the highest quality and level of our industry. Sheila has always been extremely willing and most gracious about helping the Arabian breed. If there is one breeder who exemplifies breeding Arabians for all disciplines is Sheila. In short, Sheila Varian is our treasure in this industry.

-Stan Morey
 

My experience with Sheila Varian:

 1.   There will always be those who call her a bleeding heart;  her sentimentality is not, however, disingenuous nor does she do harm to anyone intentionally.
 2.   Her breeding program is her gospel.
 3.   No , she doesn't give away breedings like gummy bears nor is she a prominent bidder at auctions.  But she is measured in her purchases while wise in long term planning.
 4.   She considers a trail ride in her gaucho outfit  with friends as her kind of heaven.
 5.   She is my friend.  I am lucky.
 
-Mickey  Aboussie 
 

I consider Sheila Varian to be the premier breeder of Arabian horses. She's been doing it for 50 years and her breeding program is outstanding. Her horses are known for their beauty and awesome, sweet, dispositions. Her stallions pass that on to their foals. I bred Rhea (Straight Egyptian) to Maclintock V and have ZZ as a result. I bred Sky (Half Arab/Saddlebred) to Hucks Connection V and have Starsky. Two very different stallions with two very different results, but both offspring exhibit the temperment and beauty that Sheila's horses are known for.  With Sheila's stallions you know exactly what you’re going to get.

  -Kathy Starustka

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sheila Varian. What comes to mind when I think of Sheila is knowledge and commitment. A few years ago I got to know her better when I was honored to show a filly for her in an amateur halter event and we became friends. Her horsemanship and acumen for horse breeding is unsurpassed. What people might not know about Sheila is the depth of her dedication to her life's work, the horses. The horses come first, their comfort and care is her top priority.  Sheila lives and breaths horses with an acuity built from a lifetime of curiosity and endeavor. Sheila says "there is always something new to learn". She never rests on her laurels but always strives to learn and improve everything she does. Sheila can size up a horse in moments and she never forgets them. Her honesty, humor and caring nature make her a great friend. She is one terrific person. I'm proud to know her and wish her all the best.
 
Connie O'Brien


Dear Sheila,
Thank you for including me in your report on the monumental successes of Varian-bred Arabians. I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I read about your achievements and remind myself that I have been an enthusiast for your ideals and ideas on Arabian breeding for sixty years. You have remained true to those ideals. That, plus tremendous effort by you, and willingness to take an occasional leap of faith, have brought you to the exalted position as the finest breeder of Arabian horses of history. Just think, that places you among Count Potocki, Ali Pasha Sherif, and a few of the tough old Bedouins of antiquity.

I wish you continued good health, such leisure as you might desire on occasion, good friends and ever more success at putting your stamp on the modern Arabian horse. Excuse me if I wax a bit poetic, but it is a privilege to be your friend.. Wes Hoskins

Audacious ps  Major Mac V  The Seeker V  Always A Jullyen V  Emphasis DDA Skyefall