By Mary Morris
My name is Mary Morris, and the Village of Oak Creek has been my home for 17 years.
Those of us in red rock country know our rugged landscapes, rural way of life and Western heritage are at the heart of what makes this place special. We celebrate our frontier spirit, respect the land, value our history, support our neighbors and – of course – love our horses.
Last August, sadly, our community suffered a great loss with the passing of Elizabeth “Bee” Gordon.
Bee moved here in the late 1970s, and owned and operated Horse Mesa Ranch. It became her passion. She was a renowned Appaloosa horse breeder, and her foals were sought throughout the west due to their outstanding lineage, show records and soundness. Under her steady leadership, Horse Mesa Ranch became more than just a facility for boarding horses and breeding world class Appaloosas. The Budweiser Clydesdales would visit and board during their western states tours and some of the industry’s premier natural horsemanship instructors, such as Pat Parelli, delivered clinics at Horse Mesa Ranch as they introduced the horse world to a whole new way of communicating with horses through love, language and leadership.
Horse Mesa Ranch was a place where children took their first horseback ride; generations of 4H students learned horsemanship; grown adults achieved their lifelong dream of horse ownership; and countless memories were made.
Bee was my friend, and Horse Mesa Ranch was her world.
That’s why I’m so excited to tell you my husband and I are in the process of acquiring Horse Mesa Ranch so that we may continue Bee’s legacy and return this beautiful property to its former glory. The equine boarding and related uses for which we’ve requested approval from Yavapai County are merely a continuation of how Horse Mesa Ranch has operated for more than four decades. Nothing more.
The ranch’s future was in question while Bee battled her illness, and in the months since her passing. But her family is committed to seeing Bee’s vision for Horse Mesa Ranch live on. So are we. Together, we are working to address upkeep and related maintenance issues that had mounted as her health declined. That progress will continue.
It has been gratifying to see this community come together in supporting our bid to continue operations at Horse Mesa Ranch. Letters and words of encouragement have come from across the Village of Oak Creek, broader Sedona and Yavapai County.
I am aware there are a few opponents who don’t share our enthusiasm. They say our community has changed and that there is no longer a place for Horse Mesa Ranch. We don’t believe that.
Yes, our community has changed. Growth has come. Development. The trappings of modern life. But that is exactly why we need places like Horse Mesa Ranch.
This is not only the last remaining equine boarding facility in the area, it is a vital and increasingly precious reminder of our Western heritage and ranching roots. How sad it would be to see this special place turned into yet another housing subdivision.
That doesn’t have to happen. If you believe as strongly as we do in the importance of continuing the legacy of Horse Mesa Ranch, please let Yavapai County officials know by completing this brief survey or visiting FriendsofHMR.com.
With your support and the approval of Yavapai County officials, we can ensure Horse Mesa Ranch is not only a part of our history, but our future as well.
Mary Morris and her husband, Scott, are horse owners and residents of the Village of Oak Creek. More information? Visit FriendsOfHMR.com.
Congratulations to you Mary and the Gordon family for making such an important choice for the Sedona Horse Community! Being both an artist and horse healing therapist, I can say the need for the horse in our area is great in keeping our natural connection with the landscape flowing within us with the nature of the horse, instead of struggling against as non horse people do.
Keep us posted!
Horse Mesa Ranch is definitely special. With its great history, it is vital to keep Bee’s vision going into the future. It is also irreplaceable to all of the people in our community, not just to the horse-loving people in our community. It’s a place where Grandma can take a visiting grandkid for their first-ever ride, or for a visitor, who no longer owns a horse, to get back into the saddle. Since Horse Mesa Ranch is now the only boarding facility in the community, its closure – just for more houses – would be a disgrace.
I have visited Nipomo Mesa Ranch and it is a wonderful equine property that is very much needed in Sedona. A healthy and holistic community includes different types of recreation and joyful experiences for it’s members and visitors.
To not have even one boarding stable in Sedona flies in the face of everything I value about the area. The horse is one of the most important founding members of the beautiful area in which we live in Sedona. They are part of our heritage and many enjoy their majestic presence and need a place to stable their horses. The Gordon’s intentions to create a beautiful experience for horse lover’s and enlighten those that may not know much about them is to be commended. They should be supported in their wonderful plans for the property.
Great place to ride out of and great views of the Sedona mountains. Great place to stay and keep your horses.
What a wonderful place with wonderful people. We were lucky enough to be able to short term board our horses at Bee’s a number of times over the last 10 years, and were rewarded with an equestrian experience like no other. To be able to ride our own horses right out the ranch gate and work our way over to bell rock was simply out of this world. The residents of this small town have a real gem here, a beautiful little horse ranch to keep them grounded and reminded of all that came before them. I think it is wonderful that Mary and friends have stepped up to continue the legacy and wish her and all the people of in “the Village all the best of luck with this venture. I know Bee will be very pleased to see you succeed
Thank you so much Mary Morris for continuing the legacy of this ranch. I have had many memories there and would love to be able to do so again.
What a truly special place Horse Mesa Ranch is. A friend of mine and I had the privilege to board for a few days for both of our horses. We had the most spectacular time, the facility was wonderful, the scenery beautiful, and the ability to ride a property what is tremendous. Everyone was gracious and helpful and made us feel very much at home. We will most certainly be returning again, hopefully with even more friends next time.
We have been visiting Sedona 3-4 times per year for over 15 years, sometimes with our horses which of course need to be boarded. I am happy to say we have just bought a house in VOC & plan to fully relocate here by the end of this year. I was thrilled to find Horse Mesa Ranch which will, hopefully, be the new home for our babies. As life seems to speed up more each day, it’s important for us all to take time to enjoy & preserve nature. Horses are part of the nature which I believe we are the stewards to protect. The therapeutic effects of horses can be realized by many who just take the time to observe them. Little children are almost all drawn to them. Feeding them a carrot or petting them is a thrill that children love. Grooming or even riding a horse is a special treat. It doesn’t take long to realize that these gentle giants are trusting & cooperative with us even though we are the “predators” by nature & they are the prey. We need to make room for these magnificent creatures that helped settle the West. They are trusting us to care for them, just as we do for our domesticated dogs & cats. HMR is the last haven in Sedona where horses can live & thrive in a public facility. I hope we can join as a community to help preserve this beautiful part of Sedona and the heritage of the West. Please help preserve the 40+ years of horse heritage here in Sedona by supporting HMR. Thank you! Be well & be happy,
Katie Ross MD
What a beautiful gesture and place, Mary Morris! Horse Mesa Ranch is as much a part of VOC as Bell Rock; drawing us back to the original use of the land as settlers arrived. We need tradition and access to use the land in a cooperative way with nature. I appreciate your dedication to preserving this legacy for future generations.
Equestrian facilities such as Horse Mesa Ranch are an important part of
the fabric of the Verde Valley. I hope it survives and thrives. Unlike other recreational
activities that have developed in recent years, horse men and women respect
the countryside and fragile desert ecosystem.
I have read all these comments. I couldn’t agree more. I am so glad that there is someone who want to continue the legacy of Bee. Horse are very special creatures. I own a couple. Everyday I realize more and more that I could not imagine a life without them. They are very healing. If every your are stressed, just hop on the back of a horse and ride into the countryside. You will experience such a relaxing experience. The towns out here are getting too built up and the elements that people found so inviting in the Red Rock Country are fast disappearing with all the building. It’s great to have businesses and homeowners. It’s also great to mix animals along with that. We live in an area where the National Forest offers us such beauty. Sometimes that beauty is only accessible by horseback.
Thank you for preserving this corner of the west. It’s where dreams come true
Best wishes for your efforts to be rewarded to preserve the Horse Mesa Ranch in the years to come! We visit Sedona as often as we can, and marvel at the resources that are available in the Verde Valley!
The ranch offers a very unique perspective and opportunity to see the incredible sights offered in Red Rock Country! I look forward to visiting!