Varian Arabians

Sheila VarianSheila Varian

Born: Santa Maria, California

Occupation: Horsewoman, breeder, trainer, owner of Varian Arabians, a 230 acre farm with 150 horses in Arroyo Grande, CA


Major Accomplishments:

• College graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo & Physical Education teacher at Arroyo Grande High School for 3 years.

• October 1961 - Sheila and her Arabian mare Ronteza won the Open Reined Cow Horse Championship at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. She was the first amateur, the first woman and had the first Arabian to take that title.

• 1962 - Sheila showed the Varian Arabians foundation sire Bay-Abi++ to win the Championships United States National Champion Stallion competition.

• 1969 - Sheila trained and showed Bay Event (Bay-Abi++ x Ronteza) to open Reined Cow Horse Championships throughout California. 1971 & 1976 - Bay Event was twice US National Champion Arabian Stock horse, unanimous both times.

• Sheila has trained and ridden horses to National Championships in Halter, English Pleasure, Park & Stock Horse.

• Starting with the first three Polish Arabian mares she purchased in 1961, *Naganka, *Bachantka & *Ostroga, Sheila has now brought the Varian Arabian mare line into its ninth generation.

• Varian Arabians is currently standing the fifth generation of their breeding stallion line which started with Bay Abi++, whom Sheila got as a 2 year old in 1959. She continued this line through Bay El Bey++, known as the ÒKingmaker,Ó then on to Huckleberry Bey++, and currently through Desperado V and Maclintock V.

• Sheila was invited to go to Poland in 1981 to judge the Polish National Championship.

• 1983 - Sheila and Don Severa syndicate Huckleberry Bey++ for 3 million dollars

• In 1988, Sheila took 3 Huckleberry Bey++ offspring to Canada, where all three were National Champions.

• In 1998, Sheila was awarded the Arabian Horse Trust Breeder of the year, as voted by the Arabian community. This is the fourth time the Breeder of the Year honor has been given to Ms. Varian in the last nine years. The others were 1991, 1992 and 1994.

• Co-founder and Director of the Arabian Breeders Association, started in 1997.

• Original Director of the Arabian Professional Horseman Association.

• At the 1998 U.S. National Championships, the Bay-Abi sire line scored at the top of the yearly charts with points accumulated from winning offspring and grandget. Five of the leading Top Ten purebred halter sires and six of the purebred performance sires were bred by Varian Arabians or were of the Varian line

• Based on Bay El Bey++'s original 1st generation get of 441, it is estimated that his 8th generation great grand-get totals approximately 189,000 horses.

• Huckleberry Bey++ was the leading sire at the large Scottsdale All Arabian show and the U.S. National Championship for many years.

• Desperado V, by Huckleberry Bey++, was the leading sire in at least 5 Arabian stud books.

• Since starting Varian Arabians in 1952, Sheila has bred close to 900 horses, including many National Champions. Her breeding program is nationally and internationally known for its quality of horse.

• Sheila received the Monte Robert Equitarian Award in 1999 for trainers in the Western riding disciplines who choose to train horses in the absence of violence or pain.

• Sheila received the 2001 USA Equestrian Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeder Award over all breeds.

• Sheila was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, in Ft. Worth, Texas in 2003.

• In 2004 Sheila and Varian Arabians celebrated 50 years of breeding Arabian horses at its Golden Jubilee celebration held at Varian Arabians.

• Sheila was honored to receive the 2005 Arabian Breeders Association Lifetime Breeders Award. Sheila was also the ride clinician for the Arabian Horse Association's 1st Annual Fort Robinson Trail Ride at Historic Fort Robinson State Park, Nebraska.

• Sheila Varian was honored to receive the USEF 2008 USEF/Performance Horse Registry Leading Breeder Award. This award is decided by a selection committee and is over all breeds to congratulate outstanding performance.

• Sheila Varian was honored to receive the Arabian Horse Times Readers' Choice Award for Breeder of the Year as well as the Arabian Professional and Amateur Horseman's Association Breeder of the Year award for 2010.

• In 2011 Sheila began sharing ÒThe Varian WayÓ with enthusiastic audiences. This photographic presentation is a comprehensive look at the history of Varian Arabians and the horses it has produced.

• At present, Sheila does demonstrations about the old California Vaquero method of training horses, which take the horse from the Hackamore through the Two Rein and finally into the Spade Bit with two Varian bred horses named Murietta V and Jubilation that she has trained in Hackamore to the Spade bit. These seminars have been held in the Court Yard of the Santa Inez Historical Society, at the San Julian Rancho outside of Lompoc California, the Will James Historical Society Convention held in Santa Barbara, California in 2002, in the Court yard of the Historical Adobe in Santa Barbara, and many other venues around California.

• Sheila presents an annual Spring Fling in April and a Summer Jubilee Weekend at Varian Arabians, held in August. These events will offer educational and training seminars and the Varian Arabian Collection sale horses, along with food, fun and a festive atmosphere.

Sid (Mary) Spencer: Owner of a ranch in Lopez Canyon, California, where Sheila, in her teens, learned from Sid about training hackamore horses and spade bit horses and how to work cattle in the mountains.

Tom Dorrance: In the mid 1960's, Tom spent time guiding Sheila into his now universal Òsoft approach,Ó which has had the most influence on her and the way she has trained and interacted with her horses.

Mother, Wenonah Varian, father Eric Varian, and sister Joan Varian, all deceased.


History Home <> In The Beginning

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