82-Year-Old Arabian Horse Ambassador at Historic Rancheros Visitadores Ride


As featured in the Summer 2024 issue of Arabian Horse World

Dick Walden, owner of Rancho Soñado Arabians, is consistently the only rider on an Arabian or Half-Arabian on the famous and historic week long Rancheros Visitadores Ride (RV) in Santa Barbara County every May. This ride is the oldest organized ride in the United States, and at 82, Dick is one of the oldest participating riders.


One of his favorite mounts has been Benedito Bey SMA (Brandon Bey JCA x Onapar), a 17-year-old gelding who has also been National Champion Sport Horse Gelding In-Hand and National Top Ten Show Hack. Benedito also enjoys English, Western Trail, and Sport Horse Under Saddle. The other is Duns Smokey Lady+// (Were Dun x Zerrette), a 15-year-old Half-Arabian mare. She is a Multi-National Champion and Reserve Champion in Trail. Both horses confidently handle the 900+ riders on Rancheros along with loud bands, antique coaches, wagons pulled by mules and horses, hundreds of spectators lining the parade route, and the river crossings and rugged terrain on the 4-5 hour ride to camp. 


At first, some of the Quarter Horse folks teased Dick a bit about his fancy Arabians, but they quit when they saw the calm nature of his horses, their ability to ride for hours without water or overheating, and their talents in ranch trail, western pleasure, and ranch sorting during the RV competitions. Such Quarter Horse legends as Bob Avila and John Branquino have pinned or complimented Dick’s horses, which brings him great satisfaction. Dick’s late friend Dr. Jim Steere, a vet from Petaluma, used to ride an Arab mare on Rancheros that he had ridden many times in the Tevis Cup Endurance Ride. Doc Steere was still riding the Tevis in his 80’s. Dick has earned his Rider of Supreme Honor Champion.