Category: Peruvian Paso Horses

Lil’ Annie Comes Home – One Mule’s Journey from Tennessee to California

Me riding one of our Peruvian Pasos, Azteca de Oro BSN, in the olden days. This is in Monterey, CA, at the 1492 show.

I sold my horse and gave up riding forever perhaps nine months ago. This was after being advised by every medical type in my life and the Rector of my church that I would go Splat! if I came off a horse at my age and state of decrepitude. There is truth to this. I would be a dope if I didn’t acknowledge it.

The only thing is–riding is addictive. Not just the wind-in-your-hair thrilling part of riding, all of it, including picking out your horse’s hooves. It’s a physical thing: body memories, muscle memories. The part of being human that allows dancers to perform entire ballets without having to look at their notes. I’ve ridden for so long that the sensation of being on a horse can come to me anywhere. Swinging down the aisle of the local mall, for instance.

Not riding was painful.

After suffering for months, I decided that somewhere on the planet, a horse with a sufficiently low energy level must exist. It had to be a gaited horse–and this is a very important bit. Most people ride WTC horses: they walk, trot, and canter. The trot is the problematical gait: it’s the backbreaking bounce-bounce-bounce you find on most horses. People who ride rental horses once discover this gait and never ride again; it’s that jarring.

But, alternatives exist. I discovered Peruvian Pasos in the late 1980s, courtesy of my bad back. Peruvians are reputedly the smoothest riding horses in the world, a claim I believe. The only thing is, they’re a Spanish breed and many are very hot–Ole! That means if you move your pinkie, you may be in the next county before you can say, “Why am I on the ground?”

If I couldn’t find a Peruvian as sedate as what I wanted, I wanted another breed just as smooth. I had very limited goals in my post-optimal, maybe end-of-the-trail equine experience.  All I wanted to do was meander slowly around our arena and mosey down our mostly flat trails.

I also desperately needed a way of getting away from my computer. I’m an author and I spend most of my life in front of my screen playing with words and turning my spine into something resembling a pretzel. I needed a new interest! A passion! Outdoor exercise!

Last June, after another disappointing attempt to find the horse of my dreams, I was in Santa Fe NM having dinner with friends. It was really fun. They ride mules. Sue and Dick love their mules and ride them all over. “They are really friendly. They’re more like dogs.” Our friends said mules don’t go lame or break as often as horses.

A few years back, Dick started a “Meet a Mule Day” at the County Fair where mules and their people get together and ride across mattresses and through kids’ wading pools and do amazing things that would cause horses to have nervous breakdowns on the spot.  Dick described all the things his mule could do: find lost people, keep their property free of varmints, and do their income taxes. These are useful skills.

Most of my good ideas come when I’m asleep. After this dinner, I woke up with an Ahah! Why not get a mule? Mules like to go slow. They’re careful, smart, sure-footed, live a really long time (up to fifty years), and they’re sturdy. Why not get a mule? A gaited mule! I know they come gaited from seeing the Peruvian National Champion Mule at a horse show in Monterey, CA.

Great idea! All I had to do was find one. I said, “I think I’ll get a mule,” on Facebook. Lickety split, I was hearing from people I hadn’t heard from in years. The mule ladies. It was really fun. Did you know there’s a worldwide network of women who actually run the planet? They all ride mules. I began hearing from them. It was really fun and got me off of FB for hours at a time. And then back on the Net, searching for gaited mules.

I found a lot of gaited mules, all a long way from Santa Barbara, CA, and mostly in the South. I’d find one that sounded good in Alabama, another in Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, and then Tennessee. Clearly, my mileage points were going to be challenged by this search.

But then, a new friend told me about trainer Lou Moore-Jacobsen and One Moore Training in Templeton, CA. She trains mules! And she told me about the Reese Brothers Mules in Tennessee.  Their family has been producing and selling mules since the 1920s! That’s even older than me. Here’s their FB page. 

I contacted Richard Reese, who handles mule sales for his family’s business. Click here and you can contact him yourself. I told him what I just told you and asked if they had a mule that would fit my needs. He said he’d think about it. Somehow the fact that he would be in San Tan Valley, Arizona, at a mule auction and sale and could bring a prospect for me with him came up. All of a sudden, Yipes!, it was late July. The sale was in a few days.

Leavitt Ranch Mule Sale & Auction

My husband and I found ourselves at the Leavitt Ranch the last days of July 2015. Richard Reese had brought a gigantic semi-truck pulling an equally gigantic trailer full of mules.

It was so much fun! I want to thank Buck Leavitt and the Leavitt family for their gracious hospitality in letting all us mule-and-would-be-mule lovers tromp all over their place trying them out before the sale. And thanks to all the people that staffed the cash registers and so on. Quite a lot of work was involved in this production.

And thanks to all the people at the auction. It was such a fun event and I enjoyed meeting and being around so many new people. In my conversations with the “mule ladies” before going to the sale, one of the things I heard over and over again was, “Mule people are friendly. It’s not snobby like horse shows can be.” That was very true.

This was a totally new culture to me. I’m from Silicon Valley and lately (the last twenty-plus years) the Santa Barbara area. I’ve never been to a mule auction. Lotsa mules, folks. The auctioneer talks really fast. You don’t want to wave your bidding card around a lot, unless you intend to bid. The mules were really beautiful. Seductive, actually, moving into and out of the auction area. If you have an equine habit, this could be a danger area.

The Leavitts are going to have another sale in the spring, so if you’re at all inclined to mosey on down, it won’t be 110 degrees then. That was the only negative. The auction was hot, in all ways.

I do want to apologize to those people whose views I blocked at the auction, standing on the rail attempting to film the goings-on with my iPhone. (Which I just learned how to turn on.) I was trying to put together a video of the auction to post here. I didn’t realize I was in the way until someone told me, “You’re really blocking people’s views.” My husband said, “Yeah, you were really in the way.” Oops.

I need to warn you more emphatically about a downside to a mule auction. So many of the mules were so cool that we could have easily ended up with, oh, three or four. Really. An excited lady at the checkout rushed home to get her horse trailer, “I just bought two mules! I didn’t think I’d buy a mule …” Her parting words were lost as she ran to her truck.

Richard Reese showed extreme honesty in telling us, “They’re too green for you,” as we inquired about this mule or that. This was very good advice. My husband, who is normally the more conservative of the two of us, caught the fire. He wanted one. Or two. But we are old codgers knowing nothing of mules.

Oh! Did we get a mule? Yep. Lil’ Annie, who had been with the Reeses one and a half years, ridden by Richard himself. She is exquisitely beautiful and I rode her all over the Leavitt Ranch. Reese Mules are known for their good manners and quality. Did it ever show! I want to share a couple of pictures of Annie when we brought her home. This is her first airline trip. She was so good!

Annie and I on the moving walkway at the Phoenix Airport.

Doesn’t this beat fighting your way through the airport on your own hooves? Once we got into the terminal, Annie’s behavior was even more remarkable.

Annie's behavior at the check-in gate was better than most human passengers. Note how the helpful airlines people put her seat assignment on her rump!

She did have a little trouble at the airport security checkpoint as we boarded. She had to explain that she couldn’t remove her shoes because they were nailed to her feet. Also, fitting into her economy class seat was difficult.

Annie’s home now, a lovely addition to our family. How’s she doing? Freaked out, man. She’s in major culture shock. But, I got her some sunglasses and an iPhone. She’s starting to adjust to California life. Went to Starbuck’s and Trader Joe’s for the first time. I told her we’d cruise State St. and hit the beach soon. Maybe do some surfing. I’ll report when we do.

I also called trainer Lou Moore-Jacobsen. When you need help, get it. We’ll get it sorted out.

All the best,

Sandy Nathan, who, in addition to being a new mule owner, is also a bestselling and award-winning author. Check out my Amazon Author Page. Also, if you feel the slightest inclination to sign up for this blog through Google + or email, there are places on the top right of this page where you can do it. I will not spam you, posting interesting-to-almost-everyone articles only occasionally. I mean, where can you get a blog post about a mule in an airport?? It’s really funny; I’ve got thousands of FB and Twitter and other “friends,” using the Amazon definition of the term, which means you hit Like and made a comment on someone’s FB page once. But I’ve got 53 followers on this blog. It’s been like that for years. Maybe the sign-up thing is busted. I dunno. Try it and post a comment if it doesn’t work. Or works. Ciao!

Cassandra BSN – A Fine Peruvian Paso Mare for Sale – $3,500 – ALL NEW PHOTOS!

Cassandra BSN - July 5, 2015

I recently posted an article/ad about our mare, Cassandra BSN. Reach it through this link. This is the same ad, except that the photos and video on the linked ad are about four years old. Last weekend (Fourth of July weekend, 2015) we shot ALL NEW PHOTOS! I think Cassandra looks better now than she did four years ago, and she looked good then. So, for your enjoyment and perhaps consideration as an addition to your family, here is Cassandra in her present glory:

CASSANDRA BSN is a bright chestnut, Peruvian Paso mare, approximately 15 hands high. She is a fully trained, sound, and very well bred mare. Cassandra will be thirteen years old on August 3, 2015.

We are selling her at the broodmare price of $3,500 because she requires an excellent to expert rider. Cassandra is perfectly rideable: as noted, she’s very well trained, healthy, and sound, with lots of trail miles. She is registered and her parentage has been certified by UC Davis DNA typing. She was born on our ranch; we have owned her all her life. The mare is a very friendly, people-orientated horse, a delight to handle and be around. She’s never been sick or hurt. For us, she comes to the pasture gate to be caught.

Cassandra is well-trained and very responsive, at the hot end of a hot breed. We ride her all over our trails, up and down steep hills, with no problem. She’s fine with cattle and currently is pastured with a mule. However, if she gets upset, she’s a real handful. What upsets her? Strange unfamiliar things. My husband rode her past a local roping arena when the guys were in full swing, team-roping. This was a real challenge for the mare to deal with. Barry got her past the arena and finished his ride, but he’s an accomplished rider and he knows her very well.




I’ll attach more to the end of this post. 

Cassandra BSN - Left Side

Cassandra BSN - Front View. She has an amazing front.

Cassandra BSN - Rear View. Amazing hindquarters, too.

Cassandra BSN - July 5, 2015

LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS MARE AS A BROODMARE. We’re selling Cassandra at a broodmare price, though you can ride her, as the photos show. She’s big and impressive and elegant. She’d make beautiful babies. More than that, Cassandra carries some of the oldest and finest blood in the Peruvian Paso breed.

Often when I read a horse has “Sol de Oro V” blood, I look at its pedigree and find Sol de Oro V is the four-time-removed great-grandfather. And I’ve never heard of the horses up front in the pedigree, where they have the most influence.


Cassandra’s Pedigree – Smaller version. For a full sized version with hot links to the horses on the pedigree, click the link above. Horses on that have a red * after their names have photos. If you want to see a horse’s picture, click on its name on the pedigree chart; the screen will go to the selected horse’s pedigree. Hover your cursor over the little box after the horse’s name at the TOP of the chart. The image will appear. Neat. 

TOP SIDE OF CASSANDRA’S PEDIGREE: When discussing pedigrees, horse people generally start with the top half of the chart, the sire’s portion. Cassandra’s father, RDS Domingo del Sur E.T., is a direct son (via embryo transfer) of the legendary HNS Domingo. HNS Domingo shaped the Peruvian breed. I can’t begin to list his show wins. Those of his offspring and their offspring are countless. I can remember seeing HNS Domingo ridden in his mid-twenties, strong and sound.

Barry, my husband, rode Cassandra’s father, RDS Domingo del Sur, which is how we decided to breed to him. I have never seen Barry get off a horse so excited and happy. He loved that young stallion. Notice that Domingo del Sur’s mother’s breeding goes back to AEV Regional and Sol de Oro V.

BOTTOM SIDE OF CASSANDRA’S PEDIGREE: This is the mother’s half of the pedigree. Here we’re talking royalty from the get-go. Cassandra’s mother, La Soberbia, was a grand-daughter of Sol de Oro V. That’s not: great-great-great-great granddaughter; she was his granddaughter. AEV As de Oro, La Soberbia’s father and a direct son of Sol de Oro V, had the best legs of any Peruvian I’ve seen. He was at our ranch for a while and I admired him greatly. La Soberbia’s mother, Soberana, was a full sister to *Mantequilla. The famous *Mantequilla, the son of Piloto and La Limena. Genetically, Soberana was as close to *Mantequilla as you can get.

La Soberbia was a genetic treasure. You don’t get old style breeding like La Soberbia’s. We owned her most of her life. She produced five offspring for us. All of them were healthy and sound into old age with fantastic legs. And very HOT. Tons of brio in that blood.

Cassandra's mother La Soberbia. (This is an old photo: she's not really green!)

Click here and scroll down to see another view of La Soberbia during her show career. She’s the fourth image down, the palomino mare ridden by a young girl. The page gives information about her and one of her offspring, Capoeira BSN, who was sold to Australia where he’s influenced the Peruvian breed there. Actually, Jorge de Moya, the expert on gaited horses who bought Capoeira BSN and exported him to Australia, really wanted to buy La Soberbia. We wouldn’t sell her.

MORE FACTS ABOUT CASSANDRA BSN: Barry and I ran out of steam for showing about the time Cassandra was born, so she doesn’t have a show record. We haven’t bred her, either. We’re winding down and retiring; that’s why we’re selling her. She’s one of our last three horses. What does the BSN behind her name mean? Those are our official ranch initials, standing for Barry and Sandy Nathan. We bred her. She was born her on the ranch. We’ve had her and cared for her with love all her life. That matters. Horses that have been abused or neglected suffer from it, often all their remaining lives. Cassandra is up to date on all her immunizations.

CASSANDRA AND JOSH: I’ve talked about how hot and hard to ride Cassandra is. I about fell over when Barry put our friend Josh on her. Josh had never ridden. The young man got on her in the round pen and did fine. Soon he was in the arena with her, then out on the trail. Then out on the trail bareback with a halter.

Magic? Maybe, but Josh is a true prodigy. Also a multi-degree black belt in Karate, an advanced surfer, and a musician. He’s got amazing balance and coordination, athletic ability, and sensitivity. He just “got” the mare instantly. Maybe you will, too.

A literally 2 second video of Josh riding her bareback with a halter is above; that’s all we got of the duo. The video is current; it was taken in the last couple of months. We can’t take more videos of the pair, as Josh is sidelined now, after being injured at a truly dangerous sport: surfing.

Here are some more recent photos of Cassandra:

Cassandra in Gait moving to the right. Beautiful flaxen mane and tail. That's Sol de Oro V blood.

Cassandra BSN Gaiting on the Lawn



Cassandra BSN - Gaiting to the Left

Cassandra BSN - Gaiting to the Left on the Lawn



Cassandra BSN hanging out with Loki, our Chessador dog






Cassandra BSN gaiting from the rear. That's a Peruvian horse? Looks like a Quarter Horse's hind quarters.















Let us know if this horse calls you to be her owner. They do that, you know. 

Sandy and Barry Nathan
Rancho Vilasa, home of the Nathan family & fine Peruvian Paso horses
Santa Ynez, CA
Easily accessible in Central California, 40 minutes from downtown Santa Barbara
In the heart of the Santa Barbara wine country.
Come wine tasting and stop by and see Cassandra while you’re in the Valley. 

contact Barry at

Rancho Vilasa reserves the right to remove horses from the market and to refuse to sell to particular buyers.

                                                                                                                                       Cassandra and Barry Nathan take a spin at Rancho Vilasa

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