Rancho Santa Fe’s Osuna ranch a ‘magical place’ for horses and equestrians


By Karen Billing

While the RSF Association is planning changes and improvements for the Osuna property with the lot split and work on the historic adobe, the horse ranch on the property has been thriving since the land was purchased in 2006: There are very happy horses in the Grand Prix champion Hap Hansen-run stables and in the idyllic Rancho Santa Fe setting.

The Association is being good stewards of its open space investment, said ranch manager Daria Quay, and the recent upgrade to the riding arena has been well received.

“The new arena is amazing,” said Christine Praefke, a Hap Hansen instructor. “Everyone’s super excited about [the arena], it couldn’t be better.”

With its old trees and flowering landscaping, benches for perching, trails around the property and quiet, green turnouts, the Osuna is a peaceful setting where horses and owners can really enjoy spending time. The main Hap Hansen barn is home to several high quality show horses, each of their stalls now adorned with a stocking for the holiday.

“Everyone who comes here says how much they love the facility and that it feels like a park,” said Praefke. “These lush green pastures you can’t find anymore, everywhere else you’re packed in like sardines, but they’ve kept the feel of the original Rancho Osuna, it’s so open.”

Out in the four paddocks, separate from the main barn, horse owner Debra Saum said she tells her horse Romeo every day that he is lucky to have such a “primo” spot — with a large paddock space, cover for sleep and close access to the grassy turnouts.

“Romeo loves it, he’s never been happier,” said Saum. “The horses think they’re in Kentucky, that they’ve died and gone to heaven.”

Saum said something about the place seems to calm both animals and people—she said she thinks it must be something in the dirt, that the Osuna has been a haven for horses since the 1880s and the horses pick up on the vibe.

“The show horses have a stressful life but they can calm down here and play in the pastures,” Saum said. “This is a magical place.”

In the middle of the Ranch is the Osuna Adobe, which Quay said just needs “a little TLC.” The Association first plans to relocate a tangle of electrical wires off the side of the house and in the future will complete more restoration work — the adobe plan is scheduled to be discussed at an upcoming January board meeting.

The Association also split the Osuna lot in anticipation of selling the smaller 3.3 acres with a single-family home and large pasture on it. No one has lived in the main house for about three years, save for a caretaker who lives in a small apartment part of the home.

Quay said talk of changes and lot splits always stir up a little anxiety in boarders who don’t want to lose their spot in the slice of “heaven.” Not to worry, Quay said: The split and eventual sale will have no impact on the Osuna Ranch and its happy residents.

Rancho Osuna and the Hap Hansen Stables are located at 16332 Via De Santa Fe, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92091. Visit