Sheila Varian has lost her battle with cancer. - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 18 Old 03-06-2016, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 6,024
• Horses: 0
Sheila Varian has lost her battle with cancer.

I am so saddened to be told that Sheila Varian lost her battle with cancer this morning. She had fought this battle so hard and courageously but winning it was not to be.

I do not know if there are many people on the Forum that knew Sheila Varian, but she was one of the great horsewomen of our time. She was one of the most successful Arabian breeders and trainers of all time.

She was the first woman to win the Cow Palace (in San Francisco) in Reined Cowhorse competition. This was the forerunner of the Snaffle Bit Futurity. Not only did Sheila win it, she did it on an Arabian mare, Ronteza, a daughter of Witez II. She owned Bay Abi, a National Champion Arabian Stallion.

I knew her well. She was so knowledgeable and so far ahead of her time. I brought mares to Bay Abi back in the early 70s and had several Bay Abi Foals. I always enjoyed visiting with her and always learned something from her.

Anyway, I thought it was worth noting and repeating this information. I sure hated to hear it even though I knew for quite some time that it was coming.

visit us at
Cherie is offline  
post #2 of 18 Old 03-06-2016, 10:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Saskatchewan
Posts: 15,433
• Horses: 2
At least she is beyond the pain of this world. I've read a bit about her recently, sounds like a fantastic and pioneering lady, who certainly lived her life to the full, and leaves a huge legacy.

“Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity”
Golden Horse is offline  
post #3 of 18 Old 03-06-2016, 10:36 PM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
Posts: 6,134
• Horses: 3
I can't like your news but thank you for sharing it. I had been reading about the conservation trust she had put her ranch into, because of her cancer. Her stable manager will be carrying on the breeding and training program. I remember seeing her on Bay Abi at the Cow Palace when I was a kid (she lost the costume class), and reading a library book about her and Bay Abi which I now can't seem to even find the title to. In the early 1970's this would be.
tinyliny and KigerQueen like this.
Avna is offline  
post #4 of 18 Old 03-06-2016, 10:58 PM
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
Posts: 2,134
• Horses: 1
It's always sad when the pioneers pass on. My condolences to you.
Cordillera Cowboy is offline  
post #5 of 18 Old 03-06-2016, 11:02 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 47,227
• Horses: 2
didn't she stand Huckleberry Bey?

I saw the campaign to fund the California Rangelands purchase of her propterty to save it from development. we cannot post links to fundraisers here, but it's all out there, facebook and such, so if you are inspired, you know what to do!
Cherie likes this.
tinyliny is offline  
post #6 of 18 Old 03-06-2016, 11:56 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Wilson, N C
Posts: 1,695
• Horses: 3
Cheri, I had no idea Sheila Varian was dealing with cancer. Like you, I am extremely saddened to hear the news of her passing. I've always admired her tremendously for her groundbreaking achievements in the Arabian world, especially her win as the only woman on the only Arabian at the Cow Palace.

And that was just the beginning for her. Her contributions to the breed starting with Bay Abi were the start of a dynasty. My beloved Hombre was Bay Abi through his sire, and I felt contributed to his being such a remarkable, once in a lifetime horse.

God bless Sheila Varian, the world has lost an amazing woman.
Posted via Mobile Device

Last edited by HombresArablegacy; 03-07-2016 at 12:05 AM.
HombresArablegacy is offline  
post #7 of 18 Old 03-07-2016, 12:33 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: A good place
Posts: 7,554
• Horses: 0
Sounds like heaven gained a good one. My sympathy to her family and friends.
boots is offline  
post #8 of 18 Old 03-07-2016, 12:59 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: OK
Posts: 13,636
• Horses: 9
Sheila Varian was a remarkable woman, not just for her knowledge of the Arabian breed, but because of her kindness and willingness to spend time and educate just about anyone who crossed her path. I have always liked, admired and respected her, not something I say about many I've met in that breed.

When I was first introduced to Arabians by being given Lady Barbieri, a Barbary daughter, I was trying to learn about the breed. I called the ranch expecting to speak with a secretary and to my surprise and pleasure, Sheila answered the phone herself. She not only sent me videos and books and pamphlets, she spoke with me for several hours and told me so much about her program and invited me to come up. You can bet I went up as soon as I could arrange it.

What a trip that was! And what a beautiful goodness it is a gorgeous and well thought out place. Sheila always made you feel at home and you could tell, she really enjoyed taking people around and talking to them about her horses and her plans. She has the most awesome old barn, has HUGE wide aisles and on all of the walls is a pictorial history of her breeding and their competitions. LOVELY doesn't begin to cover it.

One of the things I admired most about Sheila was her honesty. She had heard that Lady B had some problems carrying to term, and ET was still pretty new then and very expensive. She talked about who she would breed her to, but encouraged me to use my own stallion to see if I could successfully get a foal from her before I broke the bank trying with shipped semen and stud fees. Well, she was right, Lady never did carry a foal for me, but that was the start of my interest in breeding and showing Arabians.

When I was first starting to study, a friend gave me an Arabian Horse World magazine and told me to look through and pick the horses that particularly caught my eye, so I could learn what I liked. Every single month was the same, I unerringly picked Varian horses as the ones I liked and wanted to breed to.

In addition to her win at the Cow Palace and her very successful breeding program, don't forget that Sheila was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Nov. 2003. That was one of the highlights of her long, adventuresome and interesting life, and she had many. I wish she could be here to earn so many more.

I'm so grateful I flew back last spring to visit and say good bye, I knew it couldn't be long by the diagnosis and the treatments they gave and the ones they withheld.

Ride free Sheila, I know all your old favorite mounts are waiting for you across the bridge. RIP

Dreamcatcher Arabians is online now  
post #9 of 18 Old 03-07-2016, 04:36 AM
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Eastern TN
Posts: 697
• Horses: 1
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
didn't she stand Huckleberry Bey?
She did. I believe he was a syndicated partnership of a rather large group of people, but don't quote me on that.

My heart sank when I read the latest update of her condition this morning. I truly respected her and always loved her breeding. I feel very lucky to have one from her bloodlines, and I think he represents everything that she bred for. He has an incredibly big heart and a strong mind (sometimes a little too strong ;)).

I personally have never met her, but have heard from those who personally knew her, how down to earth and truly gifted she was. I enjoyed reading your stories about her in this thread. :)

Rest easy, ride free Sheila! I'm sure you're with your legendary steeds now.
texasgal likes this.
Werecat is offline  
post #10 of 18 Old 03-07-2016, 05:50 AM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Who knows these days
Posts: 1,872
• Horses: 3
So sad. One of my good friends was a "third generation" family friend and she's just devastated.

Scottsdale had a lovely tribute to Sheila a couple of weeks ago, which she thankfully got to watch.

“Thoroughbreds are the best. They’re lighter, quicker and more
intelligent. The best of any breed is the Thoroughbred horse, the best
of that breed is better than any other breed." - George Morris
EliRose is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Riding in the open: I lost the first battle, do I pursue the war? egrogan Trail Riding 19 10-29-2012 05:36 PM
A few pics of tequila sheila CrCountryGirl Horse Pictures 2 07-21-2007 09:56 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome