When Violet Olivia Brown first came to Griffin Valley Ranch when she was nine years old, she was afraid of horses. Now, 15 years later, she’s one of the main riding instructors leading groups around the ranch in what will be the final summer at its current home.

Griffin Valley Ranch, located about 30 minutes northwest of Cochrane, is shutting down and vacating its 1,280 acres of land. It has been a public riding and trail operation since the 1970s. The managers of the ranch are opening a new operation nearby called the Bar JO Ranch.

For people who have been coming to the ranch for years, the news is bittersweet.

“It’s going to be hard to say goodbye,” said Brown. “[The ranch] is a safe haven, a salvation, kind of.

"It’s just a place where you can be yourself and make new friends every day.”

John Owens has been running Griffin Valley Ranch since taking over for his grandfather, Harold Griffin, ten years ago. Since then, he’s leased the land from his aunt and uncle, but the lease expires at the end of the year and his aunt and uncle decided not to renew.

“They want their privacy back. They want their pastures back to raise more livestock and cattle,” Owens said.

“When I first got the news, I was heartbroken. This ranch means so much to so many people out here,” he added. ”But now I’m looking forward to what’s next.”

The ranch hosts around 700 children annually for weekly summer camps, riding classes and camping. Owens says the new location will still operate with most of the same horses and staff.

The Griffin Valley Ranch name will no longer exist after summer riding camps wrap up for the summer.

Bar JO Ranch will open in the spring of 2020.