Jeff Vance was just looking for a place to board his horses in December when his wife, Jennifer, recommended a stable a half a mile up the road.
Vance got in his truck and made the short commute to look at his horses’ potential new stomping grounds.
Vance pulled up to the property and noticed a group of women sitting around and asked if he could speak to the owner of the property.
Lynn Grandon, who was sitting in the middle of the group, looked up at Vance and asked him “Why? Are you trying to buy the place?”
Vance chuckled and replied, “We can talk about that later, but for now I just want to board a couple of horses.”
But one year later, Vance did the very thing he joked about doing.
And in doing so, he is inheriting an iconic Scottsdale horse property with a long history of celebrity visitors and equally famous equines.
Lynn Grandon had moved to the Valley when she was 5.
In 1964, she met Ed Grandon, who was stationed at Luke Air Force Base, and fell in love.
Two years later, they married and lived together in an apartment. At the time of their nuptials, Ed was bringing home $85 a month.
But that did not stop the couple from purchasing two Palomino horses which they rode bareback all over town.
Eventually, the two decided it was time to build a place of their own when they discovered a 7.5-acre parcel of land off 120th Street and Shea Boulevard that listed at an affordable $3,500 an acre.
In 1975, the couple purchased the land and a double-wide trailer that they called home for about three years.
“We couldn’t afford to buy the land, build a barn and build a home so we put a double-wide mobile home on the land – which was really nice on the inside but on the outside, it still looked like a trailer,” Lynn said with a laugh.
Though the property was filled with jumping cactus, the Grandons cleared almost everything off the land by hand to make room for their planned house and stables.
As their plans slowly became reality, the Grandons met a familiar face from the Scottsdale Arabian horse scene – Helen Collins, who was the head of hospitality for the Arabian Horse Show.
Collins took the Grandons back to her property to show off her Arabians and from there the Grandons fell in love again, this time with the bright white, dark-eyed horses that look like something out of a fantasy.
After that fateful meeting, the Grandons and the Collinses decided to breed horses together, spurring a new business for Ed, who had become by then vice president of Western American Mortgage.
“We decided to breed those two horses and from that we met Helen Collins,” Lynn said. “The Collinses had two beautiful studs that we bred and had gorgeous babies. From that point on, we were interested in buying and keeping them.”
Once Ed and Lynn realized how lucrative the horse trade was, Ed quit his job at Western American Mortgage to pursue breeding and selling horses full-time.
“We did a lot of buying and selling but once Ed got into the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona and we began doing auctions, it kept us busy here full-time,” Lynn said.
When the Grandons hosted horse auctions, they ensured they did it in style with catered events accented by extravagant ice sculptures.
The auctions eventually attracted celebrities like the late actor Patrick Swayze, singers Shakira, Wayne Newton, Kenny Rogers, Lynn Anderson and Tanya Tucker and former Mexico President Vincente Fox Quesada.
And a horse from Poland named Bushman that the Grandons purchased during the 1980s became the star of the stables.
At the time of his purchase, “Bushman” was the most expensive horse ever imported. He became so popular that he has been immortalized in the bronze statue of the horse rearing up that’s just outside Westworld Road.
At their peak, the Grandons were selling 800 horses a year and boarding as many as 300 on their property.
Ed also became president of the Arizona Arabian Horse Association of Arizona in 1990 and from 1991-98.
Though the Grandons have been boarding horses on their property for almost 50 years, the two have realized time has ultimately caught up with them. They feel they are at the point in their lives where they are ready to begin relaxing.
“The work never bothered me,” Lynn said. “But a year ago when we were at my daughter’s house for dinner, I was walking down two steps and I missed one of them. I broke both legs, both ankles, my toes and fractured my hip.
“I was fortunate that I did not need surgery but it made me realize that I need to be really careful around the horses since I cannot move as fast as I used to.”
Ed has also had some tough luck with his health in recent years as well.
“Ed had something similar to a stroke which affected his balance, speech and his writing,” Lynn said. “It’s just time for us to enjoy life.”
Ed and Lynn also admit it is time to go on a trip again.
“It’s been 30 years since we’ve gone on a trip,” Lynn said. “I know it’s time to relax but I have to learn how to relax.”
Although the two were ready to give up the property they built, they were particular about whom they would sell it to.
“When it came time to sell this, it was important to my parents that the property remain a ranch, which is why it sat so long on the market,” said Jason Grandon, the couple’s son and the real estate agent selling the property alongside his sister Stacey.
Although it appeared that the property had sold a few times, luck or fate intervened on Jeff Vance’s behalf.
“We had it sold two or three times,” Jason said. “Then it would fall out of escrow and one of the home builders went bankrupt but I think it was important for the community to keep some sort of western flare of what’s left of Scottsdale.”
A month after boarding his horses at the property, Vance witnessed Jason showing the property to men in suits and women in dress pants and stilettos and had a bad feeling about what he was witnessing.
He turned to his wife and said the fateful words, “let’s talk to Lynn about buying this.”
“One of the things, for me at least, is that you don’t see this in the city of Scottsdale where there’s buildings, supermarkets and malls,” Vance said. “To be able to preserve a piece of what many would consider Scottsdale history is pretty big for me.”
Vance also happens to be a member of the Scottsdale Charros and saw this property as a perfect place for the foundation to congregate.
“There are several things that The Charros do as a group that we typically have to rent a venue for or go to somebody else’s place that is exactly like this to do team sorting, I figured how awesome would it be to have this done on one of our own properties.”
However, Vance maintains that his biggest goal for the property is to ensure operations remain the same.
“The most important thing to the boarders is that nothing changes,” Vance said. “We want to keep every single individual that boards a horse here today.”
He also feels honored to have been able to keep this piece of history alive.
“To be able to keep this part of Scottsdale history is invaluable to me,” Vance said.
In the meantime, the Grandons are currently leasing back the property and plan to rent a property in between their travels.