Diamond Spirit Ranch celebrates the life of Diamond, a gentle, courageous and much loved horse. Of the many animals in the animal kingdom, few compare to the horse with its strength, grace and nobility. Horses often symbolize freedom, invite wild imaginations and manifest power of mind and spirit. Yet when we gaze across a pasture and watch horses grazing peacefully, our heart rate slows as we crave that sense of harmony with nature.
The story of Diamond Spirit Ranch begins with the purchase of land in Star Valley and the construction of Spirit River Ranch in 1998. John and Sellena Pool, after a frustrating cross country trip with their 2 horses, 4 dogs, 2 cats and motor home, decided to build the equestrian retreat they searched for and never found on their journey. Their vision became providing comfortable lodging and spaces for horses, homes on wheels and their owners, with direct access to local trails for trail riding.
John and Sallena fell in love with the Payson area and found what they thought to be the perfect property for their retreat in Star Valley. Star Valley is just outside of Payson and only 90 minutes from the Greater Phoenix area. The property lay next to a dry creek bed and adjoined the Tonto National Forest with horseback riding trails and magnificent Mogollon Rim scenery. The property also bordered Patterson Farm, a riding and boarding facility with a reputation for excellent instruction and tender loving care of horses.
The Pools began construction of their dream home: a ranch house and horse stalls that included turn out paddocks. Space and hookups for an RV were also part of the original creation. Over time a guest house with a tack room, riding arena and an outdoor kitchen with a gathering area were added. Spirit River Ranch was completed in 2000. Sadly, within a few short years, John passed away and eventually Sallena sold Spirit River Ranch to another couple who had future plans to retire and live at the ranch. Several years passed in which Spirit River Ranch remained empty.
But wait, my story has galloped too far forward! In the summer of 2006 Tristan, the present day owner of Diamond Spirit Ranch, moved from North Carolina back to Arizona’s Phoenix area. She needed to find a home for her horse, Diamond, a flashy bay quarter horse who would be arriving in October. Word of mouth from other riders is often the best way to locate competent boarding and riding facilities. Patterson Farm was highly recommended and after a few visits Tristan knew the higher elevation, four distinct seasons and cooler temps plus large pastures was the ideal home for Diamond. In October, Diamond made a cross country trip similar to the Pool’s (without the dogs and cats) and arrived at his new home at Patterson Farm.
Tristan lived and worked in Mesa but visited Diamond weekly, driving by Spirit River Ranch to reach the farm. To be closer to her horse, she often rented rooms or homes in Payson and considered inquiring about renting the Spirit River guest house but never did. After several years she acquired another horse who joined Diamond at the Patterson Farm.
By 2018 Tristan, who worked in the vacation rental industry, determined that she could manage her mostly remote work from afar. She and her partner, Paul, moved to a home in Payson so she could be closer to the new mare and her beloved Diamond.
After 12 years at Patterson Farm, Diamond, a senior horse by all standards, passed away. Losing a horse leaves a big hole in your heart forever but Tristan had a mare to train and ride, thus she continued her almost daily riding excursions to the farm, passing Spirit River Ranch along the way.
In 2019 the owners of Spirit River Ranch changed their retirement plans and put it up for sale. Tristan and Paul arranged to purchase and assume the homestead. Tristan had purchased another young mare and would now be within walking distance of the riding facility that had become her favorite place to spend time. From their new home’s front porch she could view the large riding arenas at Patterson Farm plus she could almost see the turn out pastures of her cherished mares. Paul had longed for a mountain retreat and also felt content at their new ranch.
To know the ones we love are still around in spirit helps to ease the pain of loss. Renaming of the ranch to acknowledge a horse’s ever present spirit seemed logical and Diamond Spirit Ranch became the eponym for Diamond’s legacy.
Belief in spirits means something different for all people because spirits are what our senses experience in the natural world, explainable or not. Spirits are forces that shape our actions; they change over time as we adjust to novel experiences amidst new relationships. Becoming open to the energy that spirits require allows us to realize our own qualities as well as the qualities of others.
Spend time at this ranch and you may hear tapping at the windows, an inexplicable creaking of a porch rocker or the soft thudding of distant hooves late at night. Visions may arise in the swirl of pasture dust on a sunny day or in the rock layers of the Mogollon Rim. Open your mind to the spirits that linger here. They have tales to tell, tales that weave a rich and colorful tapestry that is the story and heartbeat of Diamond Spirit Ranch.
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