They met at the ranch, got married within viewing distance of the ranch, and now Patrick and Kate Keogh will be running the Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk. They have secured the lease from Suffolk County and have taken over the facility from Diane and Rusty Leaver, who moved to Texas.
Managing the ranch was a dream for the couple, but one they never thought would come true. They assumed it would be passed down to the Leavers’ children, as Mrs. Leaver is part of the Dickinson family and the fifth generation to work the ranch. Her father, Frank (Shank) Dickinson, was born nearby at Third House in 1924 and started doing chores as soon as he could walk.
The couple have worked with horses most of their lives. As a student at the Montauk School, Mrs. Keogh (née Smyth) guided trail rides there. She remembers sitting with Mrs. Leaver at a card table under an umbrella collecting fees when she was a youngster. Born and raised in the hamlet, she has five sisters, all of whom continue to live there with their husbands and children, 29 of them in all.
The couple’s enthusiasm is obvious when they talk about their plans for the ranch. They said they want to make it part of the community and family-friendly. They want to hire locally and joked that they inherited Morgan Hammond, a high school student who worked for the Leavers for several years, and Brittany Cocuzza, a trail guide. Anthony Del Percio of Montauk, a former East Hampton Town police officer, is the ranch foreman and his wife, Ginger, is a manager.
They will be offering half-hour trail rides — good for children, Mr. Keogh said — for $35, and hourlong rides for $65. Trails wind through pastures dotted with wildflowers in season and along the coast of Block Island Sound. (More than 17 acres of pastureland across Montauk Highway from the ranch sold to Mickey Drexler, the C.E.O. of J. Crew, for over $11 million in 2010.)
In 1998 when the couple married, they wanted to hold the ceremony in Third House but were told by county officials they couldn’t, so they settled for an outside wedding on the grassy grounds. On the big day, the sky turned gloomy and raindrops fell as they readied for the ceremony.
Unbeknownst to them, a crew of county workers, most of them Montauk residents, turned into a swarm of worker bees and hustled everything inside - tables, flowers, and other adornments. They ended up getting hitched in front of the large stone fireplace that is the centerpiece of Third House’s main room. “It was lovely,” Mrs. Keogh said.
The county has been very supportive of their plans for the ranch, the couple said. “They were worried about the horses. They didn’t want to leave the place vacant. It’s come full circle and it’s something I’ve always wanted,” Mr. Keogh said.
Montaukers in general have also been supportive, he said. People have stopped them on the street, in stores, and at the post office to congratulate them.
“Everybody who’s a local has a history with the Deep Hollow. We want to bring that back,” Mr. Keogh said, adding, “This isn’t just a place to ride horses. It’s got spirit. It has soul. People who come here with issues usually leave resolving them.”
They are now the proud owners of 53 horses, 2 donkeys, 2 ponies, and a slew of wild birds that chirp from the rafters of the main barn that Mr. Keogh helped build with Amish carpenters in the 1980s. Each animal is named. “You have to remember their names because each horse has a personality just like people,” he said, as Frieda and Pedro, the donkeys, roamed the dusty grounds.
Their plans include re-establishing the horse shows that were once held at the ranch and on Indian Field. They’ll host birthday parties, school groups, and Scouts and offer pony rides for the little ones. They’d like to come up with special events for all the major holidays and get the community involved.
“It’s going to be very fun and family-oriented,” Mrs. Keogh said.
Deep Hollow Ranch is known as the oldest cattle ranch in the United States and the last on Long Island to hold a cattle drive. “We don’t want that to be true anymore; we’re going to try for a cattle drive. We want to bring it back to what it was — a cattle ranch,” Mr. Keogh said.
“I never thought I would be standing here saying this is ours now,” he said, standing on the weathered wood porch, surrounded by saddles hanging over the porch rails. “It’s a good fit.”