By Phyl Chisholm
Cazam Farms, Saddlebred—Hackney, reads an imposing plaque mounted to the right of a lovely entranceway. The regal silhouette of the head and signature forehand action of an American Saddlebred horse further decorates the plaque. Urns with blooming flowers line the driveway from Old Route 66 up to the gate.
For many years this property was home to Turkey Track Stables, a boarding facility and riding school where countless children and adults throughout the East Mountains and Albuquerque were introduced to the wonderful world of equestrian adventure. Amanda Garcia was one of those children, six years old when she first started taking lessons. Today, her parents, Cathy and Sam Garcia, are the property’s new owners, now home to their American Saddlebred, Hackney Pony, and half-Arabian horse farm. Amanda, whose love for horses continued to grow, serves as its manager.
The Garcias first began breeding, training, and showing American Saddlebred, Hackney Pony, and half-Arabian horses in Albuquerque’s North Valley in 2002. “Being raised in Santa Fe and spending many summers on an uncle’s ranch in Wagon Mound gave me a taste for being around horses,” says Sam. “The time came when Cathy and I had paid our dues in the corporate world and our four children were off on their own. We decided we’d each make a list of what we’d most like to do next.”
When they discovered that having a horse farm was common to each of their lists, they knew they had found their new calling.
“We chose to promote Saddlebred horses because they are a beautiful, elegant breed, prized for their high-stepping style, pleasant temperament, eagerness to please, strength, stamina, and easy-riding gaits,” Cathy explains. Saddlebred farms are found along each coast and in the South but are rare in the Southwest. Truly an American breed, they were so popular with early settlers that they were known simply as “the American horse” by the early 1700s.
When the need for more space became a problem several years ago, the Garcias started hunting for a new location. They discovered the Turkey Track property came up for sale after subdivisions had encroached into their former riding trails. The Garcia’s had found a new home for themselves, their horses, and the people who work with them, all of whom live on the 20-plus-acre farm. “There was already a large enclosed arena,” says Sam. “We knew we could add to and improve the barns as well.”
The fresh air and high altitude are an added bonus. Just like Olympic athletes and professional runners who regularly live and train at above 7,000 feet, horses who train at high altitudes likewise enjoy a competitive edge.
“We transport our horses to major shows in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas,” says Sam. “We also train and show Hackney Ponies.” Hackneys, never over 14.2 hands, were developed during the late 1800s as a stylish carriage horse, prized for their bravery, alertness, and great stamina. The Garcias also work with half-Arabians, which blend the strength and size of the American Saddlebred with the style of the Arabian.
As Sam and Cathy continue to improve the basic structures of the old Turkey Track stables they are holding off on offering either boarding or riding classes at this time. However, says Sam, please call (505) 250-8745 if you would like to be considered for a future lessons-program.
In the meantime, long-time residents and newcomers alike can take pleasure in knowing horses are still a part of the culture of the East Mountains. The old saddle-up-and-ride days may be gone, but all can admire the promise of Cazam Farms.
Photos by Michael Meyer
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