When controversy erupted at Brushy Creek Ranch earlier this year, Facebook exploded with comments pro and con. But one sentiment seemed universal: the place is just too beautiful to be ruined by human drama.
That’s why current owner John Nygren wants the word to spread: the ranch is open and will stay that way.
“People were confused,” Nygren said. “They’re wondering is it open, is it closed?”
Problems arose in May when the then-manager was charged with simple assault and horse theft. Then a group called Guardians of the Green Beret said he had falsely claimed to be in Special Forces, and published his military records online as evidence.
The manager was convicted of simple assault and that case is on appeal. The horse theft charge was dropped.
Behind the scenes through much of the drama was his business partner, John Nygren of Springfield, Mo. The two wound up suing and countersuing each other, then settled out of court.
“(The manager) has moved on. Any and all lawsuits between us have been resolved,” Nygren said Wednesday. “I am 100 percent owner.”
His wife, Xen Padron, has been managing the ranch since the manager left.
“She’s been the face of the ranch for the past couple of months,” Nygren said.
Nygren is in the process of selling the ranch, and a new owner should take over soon.
“It’s going to be offering the same thing,” he said. “It should be back up to where it was, even better.”
The popular guest ranch has campsites, cabins and horse facilities. It’s adjacent to a national forest horse trail.
Horse rentals are currently suspended but should start back under the new owner, along with kids’ cowboy camps and rodeo events.
“We’re making the transition as seamless as possible,” Nygren said.
Even with the controversy, the ranch remained open except for a short period, he said.
“During all of this, we kept this open. It closed about three days.”
The ranch has lots of followers, many from other states, who hated to see it suffer.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous and we’re trying to preserve that,” Nygren said. “It’s a place for people to escape, be quiet and relax.”
Added Padron, “There’s so many people that have loved coming out here, that have been coming here since before we were here.”
Comments on the ranch’s Facebook page bear that out:
• “Can I just say how much my husband and I enjoyed this weekend? I am so happy it is back up and running. We will come back again, soon. Hospitality would be the correct word as to how we were treated.”
• “This is our happy place! Love it!”
• “It’s so beautiful and peaceful.”
• “Such a beautiful and peaceful place! Hope to be back to visit soon!”
The ranch opened in 1996 when Matt Holmes of Ponchatoula, La., bought an old farm on the banks of Brushy Creek and converted it into an equestrian guest ranch. Since then it has expanded its facilities and gone through several owners, but one thing has remained constant: the quiet, peaceful, woodland setting and the clear, babbling creek.
To get there, visitors drive down East Homochitto Road in the Homochitto National Forest. Then they turn off the paved road at the Brushy Creek Ranch and enter deep, shady woods on a narrow gravel road, with steep dropoffs on either side conjuring up a mountain retreat.
The road opens out onto a vista of the Brushy Creek valley, with horse corrals, cabins and a small lake down below.
“It’s going to be the way it used to be,” Padron said.