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.