Guest Comments - McGinnis Memoirs

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch
Working Cattle & Guest Ranch in Northwest Montana
Guest Comments at McGinnis Meadows Cattle and Guest Ranch
Well folks, we experienced another special year here at the ranch. It seemed most weeks were filled with returning guests and like family, embraced the newcomers. There was always an immediate feeling of ease amongst all the guests starting from their first night here. For us, everyone is family.

Here are some quotes from letters sent by our guests.
As always, we are humbled. Enjoy!


Week of November 12 – 19, 2017 Guest Testimonials

I came to McGinnis Meadows expecting an elegant and beautiful show of horsemanship… and boy was I BLOWN AWAY.  Within the first few hours I was learning what a true soft feel was and by day two I was executing advanced maneuvers such as cow turns, crossovers, and leg yields.  On the last day, every single person in that arena was riding their horse only using leg and seat: no reins at all. I am amazed at the quality of horses and teaching that I experienced this week.  I couldn’t be happier.  
Thank you so much Roby, Des, and Shayne.

Happy Trails,
Peace.  In the short time I’ve been at the ranch, I think I found something I’ve been hunting: contentment and peace.  Within that, I understand what we were learning here more than I think I could have anywhere else.  There is a blanket of calm laying over the focused and intent actions of the day-to-day labors here that truly breeds humility and honesty. 

The staff and interns have been so incredible.  The smiling and uplifting spirit Ali brings everywhere she goes; the quiet confidence which with Jenna answers questions; the persistent and calm aid Scott provides; the humor and frivolity Kevin brings to the arena; the humility and presence of Sydney; each one of these individuals has someway impacted my thoughts and my actions in a positive way. And of course, Shayne, Roby and Des, not only the horsemanship, but also about how honest we are with ourselves.  I know leaving here I will continue to hunt this peace for both my horse and myself.

On my third trip to McGinnis Meadows I have to say it gets better each time.  The lodge and the cabins make me feel comfortable and right at home.  The great food and casual atmosphere always makes me feel relaxed and ready for an amazing week of horsemanship on incredibly well trained horses.  That you will find nowhere else.  The ranches approach to horsemanship offers the best place to learn and grow.  The riding skills I can take back home to my own horse.  Many thanks MMR, I look forward to my next visit!

Wow, what a week it has been.  I sit here on a Friday afternoon, after a morning of riding and my brain feels full and my legs are sore, but I regret that the end of the week is here.  The food, accommodations, and staff have all been spectacular.  But more than that, the horses and the horsemanship [which] I’ve had the opportunity to learn from and about, has been something that has far exceeded my expectations.  Horses have been my passion for as long as I can remember and I have had the luxury of being able to ride many horses and many styles of horsemanship over the years.  My absolute favorite time is when I am alone with a horse.  When I am able and ‘tuned’ into his teachings.  That is always when I had he biggest ‘light bulb’ moments. 

Here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch, I felt completely at home learning from Shayne, Des and Roby.  Their dedication towards not only bettering the horses but also towards bettering themselves and remaining a student to the horse is something that will draw me back to McGinnis Meadows hopefully many more times in the future. 

A huge thank you to everyone for the fabulous week and I hope Chief and Omar stay happy and well!


Our trip to McGinnis Meadows has been absolutely incredible.  Nothing compares to the staff, the horses, or the beauty of the ranch itself.  Before I came to the ranch I thought I cared about my horses when I rode them.  But, Shayne, Roby and Des take the horses’ well being to a whole other level.  My biggest take-away from the week of horsemanship is, “make sure that your horse knows that you’re all about him, and he will make sure that it’s all about both of you.”

Riding is a huge part of my life, so this week’s impact has changed the way I see everything.  Shayne truly teaches that the well being of the horse, and the partnership that comes with that, is what will make you successful in the saddle.  This has been the most rewarding and challenging vacation I’ve ever been on!

Emma Grace
You guys are just OUTSTANDING.  My experience here has been nothing but fantastic! All the staff  have been super friendly, open and genuine in all the things they do.

Horses for me have always been my “dream” job but I never had an opportunity to see where it could take me.  This place is such an awesome environment to learn HOW to learn.  Shayne, Des and Roby and all the interns have such a productive and positive way of teaching you, more showing you, what horsemanship can really be. 

I have loved every moment that I got here, and hope to stay again sometime in the future. 

Love Always,

Where do I begin to explain the life changing experience I had this week during winter horsemanship.  Some of the most important lessons I learned this week revolved around my horses and their expressions.  I learned that keeping your horse in a positive learning frame of mind is key to everything you do with them.  I also learned that I need to slow down, focus and really listen to what my horse is telling me.

As a frequent guest at McGinnis – I continue to be thankful and grateful for all the knowledge that Shayne, Des and Roby are willing to impart and share.  The help they give me is invaluable to keep me progressing on my horsemanship journey.  As always, the rest of the staff was always friendly and helpful.

With Gratitude –

Previous Testimonials

I just wanted to say a massive thank you for everything you guys did for me while I was staying with you. It was most probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do. In the end I had the best time ever.

The horsemanship trail rides that Roby took us out on were amazing. I learnt so much & if it hadn't been for him I don't know if I would still be riding, please tell him that I said thank you. When I came to you guys. I was so nervous & so worried about everything. I'm really starting to be less nervous & just relax & enjoy riding. Everything with my horse has been going well and I'm finally starting to get somewhere with him. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't think about the week I spent with all of you & the things I've learnt.
Anyway I just wanted to say the biggest thank you for everything.

Hopefully one day I will see you all again soon.

We are very happy for all the experiences we had for those two weeks. It was a pleasure every day. We were especially pleased about your kindness and the way you treat your guests and the respect you have for your horses. Every day was likes a clinic-day. I have already started my 2-year old paint with the flag and circles. He does a great job. I can feel him closer, and I am sure that your learning will bring the connection that will make a special bond between us, just like I had to Cisco, that was awesome! You have, for sure, changed our minds in how to ride and treat our horses to get more success.

Hugs for you all!
Inge and Tom from Denmark
I am back home and just wanted to let you know that I am very happy that I could stay with you and wanted to say thank you to everybody for the great time at your ranch!!! I am back with a good mental power and hope to keep it for a while even if I get back to my normal days. To stay with you and all the horses was one of the best experiences I have ever made and I feel myself still being "in a bubble".

Take care,
Winter weeks at MMG brought my horsemanship to a whole 'nother level. Having one on one time with Shayne was invaluable in experiencing attention to detail that I have not found in the majority of clinics I've attended. I really felt like I became closer to becoming a true student of the horse, understanding how the horse's body works and how they think, figuring out how my body works with the horse (or not, that all depends on the day!) The small group setting is perfect for those who really want to understand horsemanship at an entirely different level than you can get in the bigger summer groups and the social aspect is not lacking! I especially loved having time to ask Shayne questions... from the horse, to how people work with the horse, how vaquero gear works right down to football strategy (go Seahawks!) Combine all that with the lighted, heated arena and time to get to know the guests and the wranglers who work so hard all year long and be in this peaceful but inspiring setting is the perfect getaway.

Pattie --Virginia

I want to thank you all again for the best week I have ever had. I could say a lot more but the words are just fluff. I'm already counting the days till I can get back. --Ann—Idaho
I would like to extend my sincere thanks for all your help and friendship during my time at the ranch. As always, great food mixed with establishing new friendships and renewing old ones, is a hallmark of McGinnis Meadows. Moreover, the careful time spent with each guest and expert horsemanship provided is the essential theme that keeps me coming back to improve my horsemanship. The tireless effort that the entire gang puts forth is what makes McGinnis a step above the rest. Yes, I think excellence is the mantra at McGinnis. --Wayne—New York
I went to this ranch with only about 3 months experience on a horse and as a unique vacation destination. I was also solo female traveler and I had the time of my life. I was made to feel at home, a part of the group considering my limited experience, and safe. No matter what your experience you have an opportunity to learn in a very safe environment and they are great at encouraging you to try something new. They want you to leave having learned and tried something new. The horsemanship was amazing (be sure to see the movie Buck). My horse was beautiful, and perfect for me. The cattle driving was great fun. I learned so much, gained such an appreciation for horses and ranch work, ate like a queen, and slept great ! I stayed in the lodge. The room was cozy and comfortable. The bathroom was down the hall, but I didn't mind. Everything was clean and well cared for. The food was all homemade and there was something for everyone. I also did and learned something different every day. The folks here certainly have a passion for horses and want to share that passion. They understand that it is a luxury to go to a place like this and want to ensure you get every pennies worth, and come back. Many guests were repeat visitors which tells you a lot. Hands down, I will go again. --Andrea—Canada
It seems longer than a week since I was at the Ranch, but I still have this wonderful (not to get cosmic, as Buck might say) "aura" every moment, even after getting back to the day job! I remain amazed and so grateful for the entire McGinnis crew - your patience, kindness, wise coaching, constant watchful eye, endless good humor, beautiful horsemanship, can-do attitude and plain fun. I could go on and on. A heartfelt "thank you" to the wonderful horses (especially Romeo), and those fat and sassy cattle, too. There were so many "firsts" for me, so many over the top moments during the week, I'd have trouble singling out the top ten. Or twenty. I've done a daily journal for family and friends who wanted details on the experience, and the writing has proven good for me, too, recalling and organizing some of the lessons learned and smiling again at good times. Since getting back home, I've ridden my mare and things are already progressing better with her than before my week in Montana. --Anne-Catherine—California
I've been to a few guest ranches over the past 20 years, most of which seem to be an afterthought to a rancher who might want to supplement his income. Usually you join the crew for a week, help do what has to be done, and it turns out to be a fun adventure. This program is different. It is well thought out and designed for the rider with a focus on horsemanship. Riders are encouraged to learn new skills and then put them to use either in the arena or in a pasture. Even an accomplished rider will learn something. And its darn fun using that new sidepass skill or turning your horse on its haunches when working a cow. How busy you want to be is up to you. Everything from arena work, to trail rides to gathering on the Graze is offered. You are only limited by the weariness of your bones. The cabins are well appointed and no detail is overlooked, right down to the night lights on the hairdryers.. It was so nice to find some chap stick on the table too. The food is well prepared and plentiful. The cooks were accommodating to my requests for low salt food. At first I wasn't sold on the idea of having to make a sack lunch but even that works. There were days when I was eating it on the back of my horse trailing some cattle. I could not come up with one suggestion for improvement. This place runs like a well-oiled machine and my husband and I are looking forward to a return trip. Oh, and did I mention that there are plenty of trustworthy horses? --Kathleen Irving—South Carolina
I just wanted to write and let you know, that my week at the McGinnis Meadows Ranch impacted me immensely; the staff, instruction, and horses were superior. Improving my horsemanship and experiencing a working cattle ranch were my top goals, and they were both fulfilled beyond my expectations. Jingling, was truly an amazing experience, that I will never forget…honestly. On that note, I really didn’t expect to have the horsemanship instruction from Shayne, and it was quite the horsemanship experience! As wranglers, you were all truly special and SO accommodating!! I was very pampered when back at the ranch, both with the horses and with the rest of the staff…it was QUITE the shocker when I returned home, and no one was going to make me comfortable in every sense of the word! Lol I truly miss all of you and the ranch life. --Carla--Wisconsin
"McGinnis is the best place to learn to ride! I learned so much from Shayne's classes and I don't have to guess to know how fortunate I was to have his attention for 3 full days! He's so passionate about what he does and it comes through in how he teaches green riders like myself and old hands like you and the other wranglers. He seemed to know how much I could do before I even knew! I learned so much from him and because he never let me slide or take the easy road I in turn learned so much about myself. It was amazing to see and feel how my personality (insecurities and securities included) would translate to the horse and as I started to work through those feelings and become more confident and deliberate in my actions with Shadow or Rocky, so did they become softer, more responsive and confident with me. Amazing...! Of course I've barely scratched the surface but I've found a part of myself, a part of my soul, at the ranch and through riding that I KNOW I would not have recovered anywhere else! Thus my hope to return soon."

Back home...already miss the ranch, the horses and most important the cookies, thank you for this incredible week, the kindness of the staff, the patience of the wranglers and the delicious food of the chef! Also special thanks to Shayne: so much to learn from you, I wish we'd have someone like you in France to teach us...anyway only one thing to do: come back next year!!!
Virt Family

We want to express our sincerest appreciation for the once in a lifetime dream vacation for our family at the ranch. Every one of your staff members treated us with kindness and contributed to a wonderful, fun-filled, exciting yet relaxing time. We left with bellies full of delicious food and hearts full of beautiful scenery and wildlife, new friends and better horsemanship. We will remember it always!

The Virt family
Trent, Beth, Lauren, Claire, Ella & Max
Catherine Angel I came to McGinnis Ranch to study horsemanship. Every day I was filled to the brim on how to be a better horseman, new ways to be with a horse, how and what can I offer the horse. But what I didn’t realize was in the learning of how to have something to offer the horse I needed to look into myself: to be 100% present for the horse, for myself, for others. I learned bucket loads of horsemanship and mountains about myself. I stand taller physically, mentally and emotionally. I am not the same person I was when I arrived. An unexpected journey into the "rightness" of life. A big thank you to all who make McGinnis Ranch what it is.

With a hug and a smile,

I have visited just about every possible Ranch website that my computer will allow, and there is without any doubt that your Ranch appears to be absolutely mind-blowing!! The website is full of detail, pictures and glimpses into what looks like "an ideal world"! My wife and I run a private game reserve in North-East South Africa, with the main focus on breeding the African Buffalo. We have six horses and a tame Zebra, which we use to patrol the bush and view wildlife…which is awesome!

There is a burning desire to visit the most authentic and beautiful ranch in America…I think we just found it!! Horses, cattle and wildlife are in my blood, just maybe we can one day save up and visit your stunning Ranch…

Steve Topham - South Africa
Thank you for the wonderful week and making us all feel like family. What I really want to say thank you for is for allowing us to be a part of something bigger. MMR to me is not just horsemanship and good food. It is a place where people enjoy and respect each other, the horses, cattle and the right way to just be. It is a place where you can step back and look inside your soul and see lots of good. MMR is a part of who I am now and I so thank you all for that.

Kit Simmie - California
McGinnis Meadows Ranch is so unique and so special. Our adventure at the ranch with you and the wonderful staff was a highlight in our lives. Your horsemanship is like none other. It was magnificent to learn and to share with you.

Pat & Dick La Plant -- Washington
We both felt that it was one of the most memorable, exciting and enjoyable holidays we have had. I have recommended it to several of my friends so you may have to put up with some more Irish cowboys in time. Ross and I wish to thank you all. From the moment we met Danica at the airport to the time we left, everyone went out of their way to make us welcome and to ensure that we had a good time. We want to commend you on how well organized you were and how every aspect went so smoothly. We had the holiday of a lifetime – for me, the realization of a dream. All the staff are exceptionally pleasant and obliging. The attention to detail in the cabin is first class, as is the food.

Kieran and his son Ross -- Ireland
This week has been the most outstanding time we have ever had. The staff, services, horses, facilities and program are leaps and bounds above all others. We are amazed or better yet speechless by your unbeatable horsemanship. We have gained the most respect for you all. There are no words to explain our thanks to you all.

Aaron and Melissa -- Canada
I could not think of any criticism. I really tried but you guys have everything covered. I am normally very critical because I travel frequently. This place meets all my expectations and provides the refreshing break that
I need and enjoy.
Guest -- July 2008
You all exceeded my expectations! I can’t imagine wanting to go anywhere else for a vacation! I already have and will spread the word. My only suggestion would be a larger sign at the beginning of the driveway!

Debbie -- Washington
Especially enjoyed the horsemanship in the arena, flexibility with the horses and activities. The bull round-up was an unforgettable first. The generosity of your open kitchen was too good! We were looking for no nose-to-tail riding with a purpose - we got it- and loved it!

Nancy & Nancy -- Indiana
Meals were very good, home cookin’ ranch food. The horses and wrangling were the bestest ever. Our room was cozy every time we returned from our day. Beat expectations! Hands down, over and above. I know we were guests but maybe we made some friends with a few of you.

Alice & Christopher - Massachusetts
This is a great place and an incredible real world experience. I wish I had the means to come out here about 10 weeks a year. The land, the horses, and cows, the people, the guests...the horsemanship – harmony.

Glenn & Carolyn - Georgia
Everything I read or saw about the ranch before we got here was completely accurate. I would recommend this place to anyone who asked for a vacation idea or a horse lover.

We have had such a good time with the horses, the guests, the staff...even the cows! Amazing week! I’ve done things this week that I never thought I would or could do. [You] pushed me to my limits and helped me grow as a rider and as a person.

Caryn -- military stationed in North Carolina
Thank you for the memories of a great week.
I enjoyed my stay and the lovely meadows.
The horse provided was quite a willing and ready type. The wranglers were always helpful, kind and fun. You’ll be highly recommended by me.
Sheryl - California
This property is over the top for me.
Love the lodging, the view, the staff and people.
The wranglers are impressive. I love the support they give both the horse and rider.

Gretchen -- California
I think I walked away from the week in September with a much clearer feeling about the work guests are fortunate to participate in... the horses... and graze. I think this year I worked my way up to the 10% level of what there is to understand – interacting more easily with my horse, riding and responding without thinking too much about it and spending some minutes simply enjoying the ranch “life” you speak of.

Keith - Michigan
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