Escape to Rawhide Ranch

by Susan W. Showalter
photo by Susan W. Showalter

“A campfire helps you see things in a different light.” This is the claim made by folks at Rawhide Ranch, a western-style dude ranch located high on a steep hill in southern Brown County.

Owners Dan Cartwright (not of Bonanza TV show fame) and David Stirsman purchased the ranch in 2001.

“We offered room rentals and trail riding in the beginning,” said Jennifer Peddycord, ranch manager for the past five years. “ We now have a lot more to offer our guests either for the day or overnight. Presently we have a low ropes team building course, kids’ birthday parties, family reunions, corporate outings, riding lessons and nightly campfires. We can accommodate 50 overnight guests and up to 200 day guests. We offer horseback riding and hayrides to both our overnight guests and even to people not spending the night.”

Events at the ranch include hayride bonfire parties, summer overnights, kids’ horse retreats, women’s retreats, church outings, weddings, receptions and murder mystery outings. Girl Scouts can visit the ranch to learn and then earn a horse badge.

“For those looking for something different for a child’s birthday party, an outdoors western party might just fill that need,” said Jennifer. “We can provide up to 15 people with an enjoyable fun filled day, which includes hiking trails, playing basketball, fishing, playing at our playground, horseshoe pitching, horseback riding, a hayride, a pizza party with a birthday cake, and much more.”

Hayride bonfire parties begin booking as spring weather warms and continue through fall. Reservations are taken through November but it is a good idea to reserve early for October parties.

“The kids’ horse retreats are for ages eight to sixteen,” said Jennifer. “Beginners are those who have little or no experience with horses and Intermediates are those who have some riding and horsemanship experience. All meals and lodging in the Buck Inn are included. Our programs offer a fun, safe environment where each child, along with a partner, is responsible for the care of their assigned horse. Kids will learn about nutrition, anatomy, tacking and riding. They will also have the opportunity to make lots of new friends.” Other activities at the kids’ horse retreat include hiking, craft-making, water games, campfire sing-a-longs and hayrides. All counselors are First Aid and CPR certified.

“The annual Rawhide Ranch’s Women’s Retreat is held in spring,” said Jennifer. “This event is a chance for women to get away with girlfriends and rekindle their spirits with a night of relaxation. We have wine tasting, a wreath making class, hiking, campfires, games, a trail ride on horseback, massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures. Dinner on Friday and breakfast on Saturday are included.”

“My favorite type of event is family reunions,” said Derek Clifford who works at the ranch and lives there with his wife Sara. “The whole place is filled up with one large family having a party.”

Upcoming events scheduled at Rawhide Ranch include a Father Child Weekend Escape August 26–28, 2005, a Mother and Child Weekend Escape on September 16–18, 2005 and for early next year, a Murder Mystery Weekend on Saturday, January 21, 2006. Special rates apply for these events. If a customer reserves two nights, the second night will be at a half price rate.

“These parent child weekends are a great opportunity for an escape from everyday life….,” said Jennifer. There is time to play basketball, toss horseshoes, ride horses or just talk. Days might end with a fire building competition, a watermelon eating/seed spitting contest, a twilight hayride, and an evening campfire with songs/skits.

Rawhide Ranch also offers catering for large groups.

For information call (812) 988-0085 toll free
(888) 94-RANCH, write to Rawhide Ranch, 1292 St. Rd. 135 South, Nashville, IN 47448, or visit their website <>.