The Varian Way Weekend
The Varian Way Weekend:
Honoring the Past & Paving the Future
By Evie Tubbs Sweeney
Since the passing of its founding icon, Sheila Varian, over a year ago, Varian Arabians has demonstrated its deep rooted ability to carve a new chapter for the historic farm, largely due to its foundational principles that are regarded and needed as much now as ever before. In this sense, Varian Arabians is truly timeless. And so are its principles… aptly dubbed “The Varian Way.”
It represents a lifestyle, an homage to those before us, a set of horsemanship skills that are as much as about us as they are about the horses we ride. Like Tom Dorrance – the wise equine revolutionary who tutored his young pupil, Sheila Varian, in the soft language of horses – Sheila’s principles are a way of life as well. It combines a love for the land, a loyalty to tradition steeped in Vaquero heritage, a soft approach to horsemanship, and a hands-on methodology that challenges our own humanity as much as our horses.
Thus the event replacing the long-running annual Summer Jubilee is called The Varian Way Weekend, and will feature a handful of new experiences focusing on the principles, lifestyle and education of The Varian Way, along with some of the most beloved experiences of the Summer Jubilee, such as the treasured Mare Walk.
The 1st Annual Varian Way Weekend, to be held August 5 & 6th at the farm in Arroyo Grande, California, will allow guests to immerse themselves in the tranquil and inspiring farm whose walls have seen history made decade after decade, beginning in the 1960s.
Guests will enjoy all the beautiful farm has to offer, from its flower-laden, exquisite grounds to the rich and abundant history hinting at every bend. No better example is the famous Varian Arabians History Wall. This favorite experience turns the inside wall of the illustrious show barn into a 225-foot immersive walk through history, as visitors journey through photos, memorabilia and other artifacts alongside Sheila, Angela and all its famous equine residences since the inception of the farm.
New this year for many is the Sheila Varian Museum, a labor of love by general manager and long-time employee, Angela Alvarez. The Museum transforms Sheila’s office areas and personal living room peeking into the intricacies of the legendary cowgirl – both as a person and a horse woman.
Education is always a key element to the Varian Arabian weekend events. The inaugural Varian Way Weekend will feature one of the most respected performance trainers in the Arabian horse world. Ron Copple of Copple Show Horses in Olympia, Washington. Upon one’s first exchange with Ron, it is apparent that he shares the same quiet hand and guiding principles of horsemanship that Sheila did. It made them a good pair; Sheila entrusted many of her national-level performance prospects into Ron’s hands, fully confidant in his consistent ability to train them respectfully and in a team-oriented environment.
Ron’s own personal story is one that has inspired many around him. In the fall of 2004, Ron was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. So loved was he by his peers that a non-profit called the Arabian Horsemen’s Distress Fund was established to support Ron and offer him funding to cover all the extenuating expenses not covered by insurance in the rigors of his aggressive treatment. Today, Ron has achieved full recovery and is one of the Fund’s most notable spokespersons. His love for life, people and horses is evident in every interaction, and he will most certainly deliver a series of clinics during the Varian Way Weekend that will leave guests inspired and educated in their horsemanship skills.
Guests will also enjoy presentations of the Varian Arabians sales horses, mares & foals and, of course, the incredible roster of Varian Arabian stallions… including the now famous Major Mac V.
Major Mac V is the most recent heir to the royal throne of Varian Arabian stallions – a group that spans five decades. There was no doubt in Sheila’s mind that he represented the perfect, grand culmination of six generations of breeding. Now with three foal crops on the ground, he is already an international superstar, embodying the best of his paternal ancestors, particularly Huckleberry Bey++. Major Mac V’s stage debut was most certainly in the short film, “The First of Many,” an Equus Film Festival award winner in 2016, based on his first ride in the hills of California with Lester Buckley at the request of Sheila one week before she passed away. The film luminously encapsulates the wonders of the horse/human connection in the rawest, most organic way that leaves no viewer unmoved or untouched.
Last but not least, the Varian Way Weekend will feature a wine reception, dinner and outdoor concert Saturday night by the acclaimed Trinity Seely of Cascade, Montana. Trinity’s work has been recognized by the Western Music Association, the Academy of Western Artists, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Her luscious style is a blend of western, folk and traditional country, her voice and songs reminiscent of the timeless Suzy Boggus.
The Varian Way Weekend will be a celebration of Sheila’s foundations principles, shared by a community of like-minded horsemen and women, wrapped up into one glorious, unforgettable weekend. We invite you to join us August 5th and 6th to wholly experience the wondrous equine lifestyle that is The Varian Way.