The days of weddings and horses are ending at La Mesita Ranch.

Invicta Farms finished moving its equestrian operation off the 140-acre ranch on N.M. 503 on Thursday, and Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder has until Wednesday to withdraw its wedding business from the site.

Pojoaque Pueblo, which owns the ranch, gave notice in August for privately owned Invicta Farms and Buffalo Thunder, a Pojoaque entity, to depart.

Buffalo Thunder has staged weddings at La Mesita for five years, said Michael Allgeier, CEO of Buffalo Thunder Inc., which operates Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder casino and hotel.

“The Pojoaque Pueblo gave directions to no long hold events there,” Allgeier said. “That’s all I know.”

Several Pojoaque officials declined to comment. There is speculation the pueblo intends to convert La Mesita into a marijuana farm.

This year’s New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act enables pueblos to enter into intergovernmental agreements with the state to draft guidelines to manage and oversee cannabis operations on sovereign nations.

“None of these agreements exist yet,” said Heather Brewer, communications director for the Cannabis Control Division at the state Regulation and Licensing Department. “There are two pueblos that have begun the process: Picuris and Pojoaque.”

Proposed locations of cannabis farms at the pueblos have not yet been disclosed to the state, Brewer said.

Invicta Farms leased the equestrian facilities at La Mesita for

12 years, and mother-daughter owners Caroline Invicta Stevenson and Sarah Invicta Williams-Echols said they realized the lease could end sometime. But they expected more than the initial 30-day notice they got Aug. 16, Williams-Echols said.

“With the short time we had, it was really hard on us,” Williams-Echols said. “We just immediately started reaching out to see if anybody had room for us. Most barns are pretty full. Most had one or two stables available.”

Invicta Farms boarded 30 horses at La Mesita, about half belonging to clients. The mother-daughter team owned about 12 to 14.

Within days, they made contact with the Trinity Ranch between Eldorado and Lamy. Owners John and Cat Parks were receptive to bringing Invicta Farms on board. Invicta now shares the barn, arenas and other equestrian facilities.

“Sarah, Caroline and the Invicta Team bring a level of knowledge, talent, and professionalism to the equine community that has been well-respected across the Southwest for many years,” Cat Parks wrote in an email. “They are exceptional horsewomen. Invicta’s top level training and their hunter jumper lesson program serve as a complement to our already-thriving western lesson program.”

Invicta now boards 24 horses, including 11 of its own. Williams-Echols said some horses were sold or stabled elsewhere and some equipment was sold or donated.

“I reached out to John and Cat,” Williams-Echols said. “They were very gracious and understanding. They have been absolutely awesome.”

Invicta Farms stopped giving lessons immediately after the Aug. 16 notice from the pueblo. Invicta became fully operational at the Trinity Ranch in the first week of October.

“My mom has had the business for 60 years,” Williams-Echols said. “My mom moved it from California [to New Mexico] in 1967.”

Word of Invicta Farms’ fate spread to Texas, Colorado and California, she said, adding the firm was considering leaving the state.

“We are very appreciative of being at the pueblo for so many years,” Williams-Echols said. “The only issue was the short time they gave us.”

(11) comments

Henry R.


Janet Arrowsmith

I lived next to La Mesita for several years and boarded my horse with Invicta Farms for a few years. While I agree that the 30 or so days notice was extremely short, I defend the Pojoaque Pueblo, especially Gabriel Martinez who was head of Special Projects for the tribe, as extraordinarily kind, helpful and cooperative when those of us ni the neighborhood around La Mesita experienced problems related to the weddings that were being held outside during the summer. The Pojoaque Pueblo, and Gabriel as representative, were very receptive to our concerns and volunteered to move the wedding celebrations indoors, proposing to build an indoor facility for the late night parties. I moved before completion of the facility but I was very impressed with Pojoaque's desire to be a good neighbor and preserve the nature and relationships apparent in our traditional-zoned neighborhood that bordered La Mesita.

Wendy Marcus

They were given notice that they would have to leave back in August. They cannot pretend it is a shock to leave now at the end of Oct.

John Clovis

Did you as actually read the article? They had to scramble to find an appropriate place for 30 horses AND a personal residence all within 30 days. I'll bet you couldn't find housing, pack, move to a new place in less time...then add 30 horses to the equation. No pretending .... it's obviously a self serving decision from the peublo.

Mike Johnson

Very sad, ever since the pueblo bought the ranch from the Swedish lady, you suspected something bad like this would happen. Very disappointing to think a huge pot farm is soon to be in place using even more water we don't have in the valley and increasing traffic and pollution.

Richard Reinders

If this property was not put under trust with DOI, it may not be sovereign, that would be for DOI and the AG Balderas to fight out.

Devin Bent

This is a beautiful piece of land within the traditional boundaries of Pojoaque Pueblo and convenient to Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and Espanola. Pojoaque Pueblo acquired it some years back (2008?) but it is my understanding that the Pueblo never applied to convert it to trust land. Again, it is my understanding that this means that the Pueblo is free to develop andor sell this land as it sees fit. They should have given more notice to those displaced, but legally, they were under no obligation.

It is a valuable piece of property, With the recent acceleration of property values, its value has only gone up. I would be surprised if they used it to grow marijuana.

Mike Johnson

Sorry Devin, IMO, considering the long history of this pueblo, you are being most naive.

John Clovis

Why the sudden change? Seems heavy handed to just give 30 day notice to an established business and residence, and one with 30 live animals that need proper accommodations. Not to mention the long term planned weddings that take months to plan and thousands of dollars outlaid. Have the Tribal Governor and her staff no compassion? It would appear they only have their own interests in mind and if the past is any indication, they don't have any proper sense when it comes to business decisions. Just look at the attorney from Illinois they hired recently, caught on tape starting a fight with an IL tribal member. Word has it Pojoaque Pueblo had to escort him (Scott Sypolt) off tribal premise recently due to the uncovering of this. Yes, it's sovereign land and yes, the property is theirs to do what the need - but where is the professionalism, the compassion or the proper business acumen to do what's correct and fair for all?

Andrew Lucero

This should serve as notice to everyone, not to do business with Pojoaque.

Richard Reinders


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