Sheila Varian-Dreamer and Doer

Sheila and Farlotta

Not too long ago a fellow horse loving friend loaned me the DVD, “The Legacy of Sheila Varian”. He said, “You’ll love this because it’s all about Arabians,” or something along those lines. I didn’t watch it right away because I figured it was a boring documentary about some rich lady and her horse farm. I finally popped it in a week or two later and found myself drawn in by this woman, who was the quintessential dreamer of dreams!

Sheila Varian did not come from a rich family. She fell in love with Arabians the same way I did, through reading the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. Her parents weren’t horse people but supported her dreams and at the age of eight she started riding her first horse, a Morgan/Percheron mix and because money was tight, learned to ride bareback. She didn’t acquire her first saddle until the age of twelve.

Horses were in Sheila’s blood, heart and soul from the start and while working as a high school physical education teacher, she worked toward her dream. Farlotta was her first Arabian and most beloved of all. When Farlotta passed on to the rainbow bridge at the young age of seven due to health problems, Sheila was holding her cherished mare’s head in her arms.

Sheila later acquired the mare Ronteza, who would set Sheila on her way toward creating her legacy. In 1961 Sheila and 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 the title.

Through acquiring mares from Poland and careful breeding over the years, Sheila Varian created the dynasty that is now known as Varian Arabians. Her is a link for the video that tells the story of this great lady and her legacy:

The Legacy of Sheila Varian

At one point in the documentary Sheila talked about following your dreams. I can’t remember the exact quote, but what she said really made an impression on me. This woman was not rich, or beautiful (in the traditional sense), but she was driven. I’m sure she encountered pain and roadblocks along the way, but she didn’t let that stop her. She lived the life she wanted and that is inspiring!

Sheila and Ronteza

NH Fyrecracker-Franch Bred Arabian

NH Fyrecracker aka Flame

It was love at first sight for me and this sweet boy! He was introduced to me as Fyrecracker, but I couldn’t resist calling him Flame because of his fiery, red color which brought to mind Walter Farley’s Island Stallion of the same name. The name also seemed fitting because his sire is the black stallion, known as Spirit around The Franch.

AV Olympic Spirit

Spirit’s sire is the beautiful, Affirmativ:

Affirmativ

Flame is a Polish Arabian and he has the great, Bask in his pedigree three times on both his dam and sire’s side.  He also has several Varian Arabians in his bloodline. He has Bay El Bey on his sire, Spirit’s side who was well known in Arabian horse circles as “The Kingmaker”.  Bay El Bey’s descendants are stamped with his distinctive look, intelligence and excellent disposition, which is definitely true with Flame because he possesses the long arched neck, kindness and intelligence that has been passed down to him through the generations. To learn more about Bay El Bey, check out The History of Bay El Bey.

On his dam, Fyrelite Bynite’s side, Flame has in his bloodlines the following Varian Arabians, Khemosabi (Khemo as he was known, was actually raised by Ruth and Bert Husband, but his breeding career was launched by Sheila Varian.) and the mare, Bayanka.

Flame is the stuff of a little girl’s dreams!

“I love you!”-Flame

Stallion Spotlight-Bay-Abi

Bay-Abi

Bay-Abi is the Arabian stallion who is the founder of the Varian Arabian dynasty.  Flame and Honey have him twice in their bloodline through both their dam, Fyrelite and sire, Spirit.

Sheila Varian was 19 years old, when Bay-Abi crossed her path in 1959.  She had little money, but big dreams.  With her mother, Wenonah’s help, Sheila bought Bay-Abi as a 2-year-old at auction at the first Arabian horse sale to be held at San Francisco’s Cow Palace. Sheila was to have a life long love affair with the beautiful bay stallion.

Sheila Varian and Bay-Abi:

SheilaVarianandBay-Abi

Bay-Abi crossed well with a variety of blood lines, but Sheila Varian noticed that several respected breeders were having good success crossing American-bred Arabians to Polish imports so she purchased three mares sight unseen directly from Poland in 1961 with the assistance of Englishwoman, Patricia Lindsay. This was all done through old-fashioned correspondence, so it was a risky proposition, to be sure.  It was worth the risk though, because Bay-Abi made breeding history with the three mares, Bachantka, Ostroga, and Naganka.

For more information on Bay-Abi, visit the Varian Arabians website.