Ride on, cowboy, at Smoke Rise Ranch

The Baltimore Sun

Smoke Rise Ranch in southeastern Ohio invites visitors to experience harmony in their souls. This is an authentic, 2,000-acre working cattle ranch operating in the foothills near Nelsonville.

Visitors can ride their own or the ranch's horses, participate in cattle drives, compete in putting cattle in pens and learn how to rope. Novices who have never been near a horse can learn the basics, like greeting a horse and learning how to mount a horse and ride.

The landscape offers pastures, high hills, ponds, woods, trails and meadows for riding and walking.

Accommodations range from primitive campsites to rustic cabins. Some people who bring their own horses sleep in their horse trailers with the horses tied up outside. Visitors can ride horses on the trails or in an indoor arena. The ranch also has a clubhouse with a swimming pool and indoor/outdoor eating and entertainment facilities.

The ranch brings in expert speakers about horses, offers specialized classes for working with horses and livestock, and holds weekend competitions and events.

Cowgirl Boot Camp weekends offer yoga, wine tasting and lounging by the pool. Smoke Rise also holds specialized events for groups and corporations.

The ranch is away from highways, office buildings and malls, where corrals are for horses, not shopping carts.

You can feel the connection among people and horses, and the horses, the cattle and the land. Wildlife is abundant and includes birds, beaver, deer turkey, raccoon and grouse. There's no pretense at the ranch. It's a time when you can try new skills, practice old ones or just be with yourself.

It's a community of people who help visitors to be their best, regardless of skill level and experience. Pretense is nonexistent.

This summer Brad Clippinger, 43, who works at Honda in Marysville, Ohio, spent his vacation at the ranch with his horse, Casper.

"There's a lot of action here," Clippinger said. "They have nice camp facilities, a lot of nice trail riding, ranch work, fun shows, team pinning and big holiday fun shows for the kids."

Pennsylvanian Wally Hart, 71, pursued his dream and bought his first horse at age 70. He was spending the week at the ranch with his granddaughter Ashlee, 12, who owns her own horse and lives in Maryland.

"I'm here mainly to get in touch with the horses," Hart said. "I'm having the time of my life today." Hart and his granddaughter participated in the cattle drive that day.

"We're the real deal," said Lynn Semingson, 54, who, along with his three siblings, operates the ranch founded by his father, Walt. "We've done this all our lives. We've made a living on horseback all of our lives."

Tommy Lee Osha, of Washington State, a former aerospace engineer who changed careers at age 50 to work with horses for a living, is a frequent visitor to Smoke Rise.

"If I could say one thing about Lynn Semingson, he still brings the heart of the cowboy to reality," Osha said. "The heart of the cowboy is nature. It's one of the few cultures left where a handshake still means something. We've lost all that."

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