“It was always about the horses.”
Recently, iHeart Hudson Valley got the opportunity to visit Pine Ridge Dude Ranch in Kerhonkson, NY. Even with the rainy weather of the day, the resort had an impressive, country charm about it. I first learned of Pine Ridge from a realtor friend of mine, and as a horse lover, thought it would be a fun place to check out. Once I visited the website and started to research the resort, I was struck by the heartfelt story of the place and immediately reached out to try and get an interview.
After some back and forth on email with the owner, I finally set up a day to visit. Of course, it was a rainy and dreary day. Once you stepped inside the resort, however, none of that mattered. I was pleasantly surprised by the upscale appeal of the wide open lodge entrance. The huge central fireplace was cozy and inviting as was all the various comfy seating areas. My assistant and I had a wonderful time gawking at all the rustic decorations spread around the room and taking pictures.
After a short wait, we met the owner, Mike Offner, and sat down for a talk in front of the fireplace. It was there we learned his story. Pine Ridge Dude Ranch, formerly known as Pinegrove Ranch and Family Resort, opened 40 years ago becoming for many, an annual tradition and pilgrimage. With the passing of the former owner in 2017, the resort was closed and the horses were sent to auction. Mike, the barn manager at the time, told us why it was so important to find a way to save this beloved resort. “It was always about the horses”, he said. He recounted how it was at this resort that he first learned to ride a horse, worked here in his first job out of high school, and how over the years, many of the life decisions he made were to keep himself close to the places and the horses he had grown to love. After the property was purchased, Mike said they were lucky enough to be able to save 31 out of the 34 horses that were sent to auction, and then retired half of them leaving the resort with 14 horses to start. From there, they have increased their herd size up to the current number of 55 horses.
After around a million dollars of renovation and cleaning, the resort reopened under its current name, Pine Ridge Dude Ranch, May 25, 2018. In their first year of business, the resort saw 24 thousand people come through its doors. This year, Mike said, they are expecting up to 40 thousand. With all the work done to make the place sparkle and the many new programs and rides created for the benefit of visitors, it is easy to why this place is so popular…