The Highline Blog
October 13, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 39
This was the last week of Peak season and as we head into our horsemanship weeks, it has us reflecting on what a great season it has been. But more on that later…
Being a working cattle ranch, there was a lot to do this week and our guests were game to jump right in. Some had no previous cattle experience and by Wednesday they were able to head to Davis mountain to partake in a successful hunt for cattle.
Some of the jobs that were done this week included finding the remaining 14 steers that eluded us over 7000+ acres; there were also steers that had to be moved from the Elk Creek holding pasture to the ranch, and the ones already on the ranch had to be checked on and weighed! In total 224 head were driven in some form or fashion, and we even had several unexpected visitors. A neighboring ranch’s cows and calves found there way to the ranch and our wrangler Scott noticed them on the other side of the fence in the Belgard pasture one morning. When all was said and done, they were gathered and their owners retrieved them a couple of days later!
The colors are spectacular right now both on the ranch and up higher,. The mix of the golden hay with the yellows and greens of the Aspen and Larch trees, is stunning. We even had our first appearance of snow on the mountain two mornings this week. As I glanced out the window a few minutes ago I was surprised to see it snowing quite hard- it has since stopped and the sun Is back out. Next week is forecast to be back in the high 50’s and sunny! We’ll take it 🙂
14 guests arrived at the ranch on Sunday with most of them being first timers. We had folks visiting from the Midwest, California, Washington, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico and New Zealand! Not only did they hunt for, drive, sort and weigh cattle, they learned to rope, got to observe the nuances of shoeing, had an afternoon of in-depth groundwork, and did some trail riding in the midst of the peak color.
Shelly and her family came to visit, with Shelly keen on riding her two horses who have been in training here for several months. She was joined by her three kids, Madeline, Angelina and Isabella, and her mother in law Laurie. The kids were a pleasure to be around and they are quite the riders already! Laurie (who has not ridden before), even tried her hand at it on Monday- she did great!
Kathleen and Brian stayed for a second week, and Kathleen is hooked on enough at this point, that she will be coming back in two weeks to do a month long internship! We are excited for her to have this opportunity and really look forward to having her at the ranch.
Kathy, a long time visitor, joined us again and was able to visit with her horse Romeo (also here for training). Kathy focused on riding ranch horses during her visit so she can continue to really dial in her horsemanship and be able to offer her best to Romeo when she takes him home next spring. Her favorite was Nigel, a cute chestnut who is new to the guest string this season.
With all the cattle off the mountain, Dave and Nathan were busy taking down the panels from Davis Grazing allotment, where we sometimes had put steers that needed to be brought in for doctoring. Adrienne has been very busy cleaning up the limbs from what will soon be the horse herd winter pasture.
Scott and Anna have also been busy doing a variety of different things, including continuing their shoeing education with Nathan and Randy. Scott has been jingling in the horses each morning for the latter part of the season, and I think he is happy that they now have an 8 am ETA to be brought into the holding corrals- it stays dark longer now and it is always a plus to be able to see where you are riding. Just another sign that winter will be here before you know it!
As for the reflections I alluded to earlier, this peak season has been filled with the opportunity to meet many great people who spend their vacations with us. It is amazing how friendships can blossom within one week. We were blessed with no nearby fires that caused us any anxiety, even though the season was a dry one. The rains have started coming with more frequency now and for that we are grateful
The team here at McGinnis really had fun all season and worked hard to ensure that horses stayed happy and healthy, guest’s expectations were not only met but exceeded, and they expanded their horizons doing different things on the ranch. Sue did a great job out at graze this summer, along with Jenna, Brenda, Scott and Roby –yes, even Roby got to ride out this year, (usually he is riding client horses in the arena) and he made the most of it. Anna and Scott, as you know, have also been learning a new trade as farriers and they are coming along really well. While we are sad to see this part of the season end, we are very excited to be delving into a focus of horsemanship now. If you would like more as well, or want to check it out for the
first time, we have a few spots available for winter horsemanship. As long as the weather holds here, we will continue to ride outside- this upcoming week looks stellar! And thinking ahead, Thanksgiving week is really special at the ranch. Ride in horsemanship all day, everyday, and come in on Thanksgiving for a home cooked meal with all the trimmings made by Miriam :-). Just two spots remaining for that week…Give me a call for more information or to reserve a spot. Space is limited. (406) 293-5000. email@example.com
Until next week,
October 6, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 38
The search for cattle and other things at McGinnis Meadows…
This past week we continued the search for cattle on Davis mountain.
There are 14 remaining up there and the rest of the steers are content munching hay in the ranch meadows.
So, there were several trips to get the cattle moved- hunt for them on Davis Mountain, gather, lose them on occasion, regather, then push them on to the Elk Creek holding pasture.
Then, typically the next day, a group would either go back to Davis to hunt for more, or go to Elk Creek to drive them all the way back to the ranch. Currently the ranch cattle are in two of our north pieces. There were also weighing days, and the cattle were picked up in groups of 50 from the meadows, driven to the scale house, weighed and brought back to their respective meadows.
Something a little different were “wrangler challenges” this week. Mid week, Roby gave each wrangler and their groups of guests a specific route to move the cattle. This had to be done without mixing groups, and required a good understanding of the best way to get to each gate, water crossing, etc, with minimal stress on the cattle.
Another was to move a group of cattle with the guests and not give any directions to each other all the way to their destination- with just a point person leading the way. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? The reason for this exercise? It requires a feel to move cattle and really gets everyone thinking ahead and being aware of what is happening around them. The guests in this exercise did awesome- they got the cattle through some sticky spots, maneuvered around and through timber, kept them contained in places the cattle wanted to spill, and did the entire trip with no words! It made for a really fun and rewarding end to the week.
There were 16 guests this week with Neville and Lisa riding their own personal horses
Their horses did great and they got to take them out to graze, move cattle around the ranch and do some horsemanship along the way!
We had a mixed group of repeat guests and those that were here for the first time. Wayne stayed another week, couples Sharon and Bill, Amy and Scott, and Kathleen and Brian returned for more fun with cattle. Travis, Lisa, Tom and Nancy ( cousins) made the trip to fulfill a wish that was on their bucket list. They did great and said they had a blast. Friends Alex and Arnold visited too, and you would never know at the end of the week that they had arrived with limited riding experience. They were sorting cattle, chasing renegade steers and driving them like pros! Tanya was visiting us all the way from Martinque! She liked having a mix of horsemanship on the trail and cattle work.
The colors were so vibrant this week, especially in the meadows with all of the Aspens. Up high on the mountain, guests also got to see the changes each day, it seemed, with reds, greens, yellows and orange leaves leading the way. Combined with the crisp mornings, and clear days, it was ‘picture perfect’ for riding.
Throughout all of this we all continue to work on our horsemanship skills, searching for things in this realm as well. Are we paying enough attention to what the horse is telling us? Are we feeling things they are presenting and giving back, or are we forcing things to happen? This becomes especially challenging (and rewarding) when working outside of the arena where other distractions are plentiful. Shayne is always trying to get us to be aware of our surroundings, ride with good horsemanship while getting a job done- whether it be teaching guests or herding cattle. Either way if gets you better as a horseman when you begin to get good at multi-tasking!
Next week is the last week before entering into our horsemanship program. We have some last minute openings throughout October, and still have a few spots remaining this winter for people looking to tune up and improve their riding skills. Contact Janice for more info- these spots won’t last long! 406-293-5000, firstname.lastname@example.org
This week continued our fall cattle gather and it was a big week!
Our guests were all about it and there was cattle work in some form every day. With the cattle leaving soon we really have to make sure they are all off of the mountain in the next couple of weeks. The hunt goes on out on Davis mountain with any found steers being driven to the holding allotment at Elk Creek. From Elk Creek they come in to the ranch to be weighed and turned out in the ranch pastures.
We also had outside horsemanship, and trail rides happening.
On Monday Roby taught horsemanship in the meadows again. Giving people the tools they need early on to be able to work cattle and get a job done on the ranch, allows riders to gain confidence and venture out early in the week.
We were blessed with beautiful weather all week long with temperatures in the 60-70 range- a little unusual for this time of year. The fall colors have really popped this week, and it seems every day there is more. The meadows are a brilliant color as well, as you’ll see from the photos, making the horsemanship days even more special.
These sessions continued through the week and guests were all smiles with the progress they made from Monday to Friday. Some have horses back home that they would like to improve and others ride only when they come to the ranch. Either way the horse gets a good deal when their riders develop softer hands and better timing – they just love it!
We had a couple of riders who had experienced accidents on their horses at home and were really looking to rebuild their confidence and get back to riding. Kim pushed through her fears to get back on a horse after two years and at the end of the week even cantered on Brownie!
Susanne also had a successful week and learned a posting trot, how to get her horse to move out at a good walk, a cow turn and cantered on Bob.
We had several returning guests who love going to graze and anything cattle oriented. Gill, Karen, Laurie, Wayne, Robert, Ron ( with us for a second week), Dave and Dottie came back to the ranch for more cattle work and to see the country the ranch has to offer.
Husband and wife Kim and Mark, and Suzanne were first timers but you would never know it by the end of the week. It was apparent at Friday night dinner, with all the laughter and good fun, that friendships were made this week.
Maintenance continues around the ranch as well, as we gear up for the winter weather months. Dave, Will and Willy were replacing lighting in the indoor arena and in the saddling barn and boy what a difference- it is nice and bright in both places now. The de-limbing and clean up is starting to show some nice progress in the winter herd pasture too!
The cattle gathering will continue next week and we will keep you posted on how the boys are behaving and how many we have left to find!
Until next time,
WOW, we just wrapped up the end of a very special week, exclusively for repeat guests. We had guests who had been coming here for 3 years all the way up to 17 years with plenty in-between!
To show our appreciation, we wanted to make this week special, epic and most of all, memorable.
To start with, we revived our morning jingle for the week—ROBY took out two guests with him to bring in the horses each day. Right now, they are on the farthest end of the pastures, so it’s at least a 2-mile-long trot in the crisp fall air.
We had about 20 head of cattle that needed to be moved out to graze from the ranch. They were all the way over on the Jo-Ann Wallace pasture, by the Davis place. Guests drove the cattle all the way from the ranch to the firetruck tanks on Davis mountain! It was definitely an all-day event with beautiful views through the vibrant colors of fall.
One afternoon, Miriam made a deluxe lunch that Dave brought out to graze for all cattle-goers to enjoy on one of the ridge tops. I wish I could have been there! It was a gourmet anti-pasto platter, with wines, coffee and some goodies too.
Roby, Scott, Ron and Carl had found 19 head that they were going to bring to the Elk Creek Pasture just before lunch on that day. He staged them in a nice spot, hoping they would hang around in time for them to grab some food and continue their cattle drive. Unfortunately, in the 30 or so minutes they were eating, the cattle vanished! Everyone got a laugh out of it and it was OK…the hunt is most of the fun anyway!
Dave Blackburn’s band came and played a post-dinner show for everyone in the dining room on another evening. Janice did stretch classes throughout the week. Scott made a couple bonfires too. Guests roped horseback. I’m sure I’m missing some other cool stuff but that’s the majority of it!
Our guests were pretty evenly divided in interest this week. We had our hard-core horsemanship folks who spent all week advancing in their knowledge with Shayne. It was a fun dynamic since all of these guys have spent a lot of time with us in horsemanship before.
Because of this, on Monday afternoon, Shayne had everyone cantering in formation and doing flying changes over logs in the center of the arena! Even doing it two-abreast! That was something he hasn’t done before J I was able to camp on a couple colts and the guests were also able to watch their progressions throughout the week. Of course, Shayne also spent a bit of time working on the slower, more refined movements, reminding all of us that every movement counts, be it a footfall or just a flick of the ear.
Our “outside” group of guests started on Monday with Roby out in the meadows and in the trees. He wanted to make sure everyone was ready for some hard-core riding out at graze. His guests learned how to navigate centered down very steep hills, could long-trot and switch diagonals with ease and get a job done with cattle. Throughout the course of the week, the guests kept coming up to me and telling me how much this day made in difference in how well the rest of their rides went!
Sue, Roby, Scott and Jenna did a wonderful job out at graze, taking guests down new trails (cut out by Sue,) up to fantastic views, and covering a LOT of miles. This is really the best time of year to be out there—the fall colors seem to become more vibrant with each passing day. The weather this week was perfect too—chilly in the am but warming up to temps in the mid to high 60s and blue skies every day.
We want to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of our repeat guests who came here this week and for those who were unable to make it this time around.
You guys are what keeps this place going and we so appreciate the opportunities to ride with you, spend time with you and consider you our friends. We hope to do this again next year!
September 15, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 36
Greetings MMR friends,
This week was filled with cattle and trips to graze, and lots of horsemanship, both inside and outside the arena. The weather was a little cooler this week and we had more much needed rain- even a little hail during one of the downpours. These hard rains are not that common here so it was an event! There was a beautiful BIG double rainbow after the rain stopped that started in the meadow and ended right in front of Shayne’s arena!
Shayne had his horsemanship students working on a lot of movements at the walk, really perfecting them and moving with life. He also did a fair amount of cantering with our guests in the afternoon sessions included flying lead changes over a log!
Outside of the arena guests continued their practice while taking in the views. The logging roads provide a great opportunity to work on rate, transitions, leg yielding and keeping the horses soft. We had a lot of fun also incorporating a few games on horseback along the way.
Roby and Des spent a lot of time riding client horses and restarting some of our older ‘colts’. They are getting to spend some time outside the arena gaining valuable exposure to what the different environments can offer a horse. It is so much fun to see them trotting and cantering across the meadows just having a blast while they work on their horsemanship!
Pennsylvania AND the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, and Switzerland. It was a fun group and everyone had a great time together– several took advantage of the hot tub to relax after a busy day of riding.
Jean, who was an intern here in 2015, came back to see us and brought his friend Nicoletta with him. Mom and daughter, Judy and Deb, got to spend a lot of time together this week. Lisanne spent another week with us and continued seeing the views and working on her horsemanship. Melissa came from New Zealand and will be returning here in March to do an internship!
Tanja was here for the horsemanship and she rode in class every day to better her riding. Meg had fun mixing it up between horsemanship and riding out. Joy spent another week here as well- she is such an inspiration with the way she studies her riding, so that she can along with horses in the best way possible- And we will get to see her for one more week 🙂
We will miss these folks when they leave, but we know that some are already planning their trip back for next year ! The photos really tell the story and I hope you enjoy them too.
September 8, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 35
We could not have asked for better weather this week- 70’s, even squeaking into the 80’s! We were able to take guests to the lake again and they loved it.
We’ve been very fortunate the past couple of weeks to not have smoke drifting in from the various fires in Canada, Washington and California. The skies have been bright blue and clear, and just this morning we even had a bit of much needed rain.
Cattle season is in full swing and just about each day groups headed out to graze to check on cattle. They are all looking very healthy and seem to be enjoying life on the mountain. Jenna, Scott, Sue and Brenda are typically the “graze Crew” and go armed with a variety of ‘stuff’ to make sure the day goes smoothly. Maps, shoeing and first aid supplies, tools (since cattle don’t necessarily stick to logging roads, there is sometimes trail maintenance along the way to get to them!) are all part of the kit.
Horsemanship was a fun endeavor this week as well. Roby taught several days in the meadows! It is pretty cool to see 8-10 horses and riders doing individual exercises and then coming together to synchronize a pattern called out by the leader! The meadows are still nice and green too.
Many of the guests opted for ½ day trail rides this week. Of course, these included horsemanship on the go and the logging roads can be a great place to practice transitions, leg yields, and play my favorite game – leap frog J. This helps riders get smooth at changing gaits, getting a soft feel, leg yielding and keeping accurate rates.
The guests reported that the lake this week was so calm, and they had it pretty much all to themselves! Ardra, Yohanna, Lisanne and Amy made good use of the paddle boards and kayaks with Brenda leading the way.
Dave, Willy, and Randy continue to work on projects around the ranch and one that is sure to be a favorite are the new water spickets that were installed at the outdoor horse pens! This will save time and keep the water truck available for its other important jobs, like keeping the dust down on the driveway and surrounding areas.
For a half day, I was able to spend some time teaching guests groundwork and they got to watch Roby as he worked with two of his client horses- one a young two year old, and the other an older horse who is being restarted. The groundwork
plays an integral part in how the horse will develop under saddle and it incorporates many of the same movements. An added benefit is being able to study the horse’s feet and movement from the ground, which can really carry over once you are on their back.
Anna and Scott continue to work under the tutelage of Nathan to learn the art of horseshoeing. They are doing great and really seem to be taking to it. Scott also had an extra special week because his parents Cathy and Bill were here as guests! They got to spend some family time together out at graze, in horsemanship and checking on cattle around the ranch.
Jenna and Miriam continue to produce amazing meals EVERY day- we are so lucky to have them here as well as their assistant’s Erin and Anna (who is also now helping in the kitchen!)
All in all it was a stellar week!
Until next time,
Very early this spring, I did an Instagram post where Shayne was posed next to two of Seattle’s finest mounted police—Amy and Matt, with their respective ponies. I mentioned how Shayne and the ranch stood behind the mounted police and that we had already been working with a couple of officers, and planned on working with the program much more extensively in the future. The process of “paperwork” can be a tedious one, but we finally got to spend our very first week at the ranch with the entire Seattle Mounted Police Unit!
Sargent Peter, was joined by Stephan, Amy, Matt, Chad and Brandon. Stephan and Amy brought up Monty and Blue. Both horses made MONUMENTAL changes in their week here, and every single rider made enormous strides in their horsemanship as well!
This was certainly a fun group to teach—on just day one we were doing cavalry exercises through the meadows in the afternoon! Everyone spent lots of time refining their seat at the trot and at the canter. They learned how to do proper short-serpentines (a must in getting horses gentle!) ride with their legs, get a good soft feel and a crisp stop. Shayne also spent time with them on the cutting ball and in groundwork that they could take back to their horses on payroll.
Everyone is looking forward to their next visit to the ranch. Shayne and I are excited to continue the relationship with the Mounted Patrol program, and we have lots more good stuff planned for them in the future!
In addition to the Mounted Police we had 6 guests joining us this week. Carlos came to the ranch to learn about horsemanship. He had not ridden much at all before, just a couple of trail rides. He started in horsemanship Monday and never looked back. We had to convince him to go out of the arena on Friday so he could see the beautiful country and work some cattle! (He did and he loved it!). Carlos was a great example of how focus and a good attitude can do so much to help you improve. He was posting the trot and cantering by weeks end! He is in love with this lifestyle and wants to come back as an intern next!
Wendy and Jan go on vacation together each year and this year they chose McGinnis Meadows for their adventure. They both have such enthusiasm and a sense of humor and had us laughing through the entire week. They had fun with the horsemanship out on the trail and going on the cattle drives.
Karen, wife of Police Sargent, Peter, joined us as a guest this week too. With a background in dressage she worked on her seat position for this discipline and learning how to ride on a loose rein. Getting her horses to work off of her seat without reins, was different than what she is used to, and she did great. By the end of the week in horsemanship and working in the round pen with Des, she was cantering on a loose rein and really starting to feel her position come together. The horses respond so well to this!
Dave and Kris also visited all the way from Kentucky! Dave loved watching TV westerns as a kid and really wanted to experience ranch life at its fullest. Although he rode as a kid, he hasn’t been on a horse in many years. Trail riding and cattle were his favorite things to do and he took advantage of it, scaling some terrain out at graze and seeing the country around the ranch. His wife Kris, who had very little horse experience, was also was game to try everything– they both say they will be back again!
It is hard to believe it is September already! I’m not sure where this summer went, but you can feel the beginnings of the change in season starting. The air is a little crisper in the mornings and some of the horses came in feeling a little fuzzier this week. You’d never know fall is on the way by looking at the meadows though. Everything still looks so green- very different than last year.
On a sad note, Abbey, our intern of two months, is heading home today. Her mom came out to meet her and got to ride with Abbey a few days. It was fun to see them getting to go out together and Abbey had fun teaching Liane some things that she has learned at the ranch. We’ll miss her but hope to see her again next summer!
Projects to get things ready for the fall cattle gather and for the impending winter are moving to the front of the list now. Fencing work and clean up have been full scale in our winter pasture for when the herd gets turned out several weeks from now. Dave, Adrienne, Will and Willy continue to work on this.
Dave has also been busy out at graze making sure the mineral and water are all available for the cattle. 195 steers are happily grazing out on Davis Mountain and will be there until we start gathering in a couple of weeks. 21 head are on the ranch for doctoring various feet and eyes and are doing great.
Sue, Jenna, Brenda, Roby and Scott have been taking guests on the mountain to check on cattle and explore new territory. With 7000 acres to ride through Sue and her guests have been cleaning out some trails as they check on cattle. Jenna is learning the territory and Roby is taking advantage of all of it, taking the colts he is starting out for their first adventures at graze. He says he is loving it, and by the looks of it so are the horses! Nigel, one of these colts, got to drive home a few steers on his first trip out, so that they could be doctored on the ranch. He did great 🙂
Nathan has been teaching Anna and Scott how to shoe and last week they got first hand experience shoeing a few horses. They are quick learners and we know that the horse’s feet will be in good hands with both of them J
For me, this was my lucky week as I rode in horsemanship each day! It is inspiring to see Shayne, Roby and Des work with all of the horses they ride, whether it is a young colt, a guest horse, or one of their more advanced horses. I learned so much this week and am looking forward to applying it to my own colt.
If you would like to be a part of the ranch activities, give Janice a call and I will get you set up. We’d love to have you spend time with our family!
Here’s to a great week ahead,
Des & Janice
August 25, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 33
This week we were extremely busy with projects at the ranch and at Graze. From checking cattle to horsemanship and shoeing there was no shortage of work to be done. With our fantastic group of guests we had a blast getting it all done.
Anna and Scott have been taken on as Nathan’s shoeing apprentices, which means there has been a lot of shoeing and learning going on. Both graduated from trimming to shoeing and nailed on their first shoes this week. Under Nathan’s watchful eye they have been learning everything they can about each horse on the ranch. In fact, Nathan has been working on a book of all the unique aspects of each horse in order to capture the fine nuances of how to keep all 100+ head of ranch horses sound.
Horsemanship this week was all about softness (both legs and hands), riding transitions, serpentines and perfect circles. If you have prepared your horse properly a nice round circle on a loose rein in proper flexion will be attainable. To do this, short serpentines and lots of transitions in and out of a soft feel are a part of the preparation. Shayne, Des and Roby have done thousands of these movements when educating the horses they ride and they and most importantly, their horses, reap the benefits from it. Often times riders will want to work on the “fun” things, or the things they are good at, when what the horse really needs might be something very different. These movements are a good example of this, and this is where focus comes in! If you work at improving your weaknesses, they will soon become your strengths.
In addition to being able to ride in Horsemanship this week, Janice also got her first ride out at Graze this season! She and Jenna rode with Steve, Marybeth and Caroline from the Davis parking lot out to the “wolf water tank”. The scenery is amazing and the company couldn’t have been better.
The State Section and McKillop allotment are both around 650 acres large so finding cattle on Davis is a much bigger challenge given that it is 7,000 acres. You can ride all day and not see a single steer. We were successful though finding several needing to be doctored and took them back to ranch where they were doctored and then weighed. We got to learn how eyes are doctored, how to run the squeeze chute, and how to run the scales. Back on Davis we saw lots of wolf and bear scat, which reminded us how important it is that we keep a close eye on the cattle.
It is amazing what neat spots you can see while riding through Davis which, because of its size, is much more diverse than other grazing allotments. On Tuesday Sue, Jessie, Genna, Diana, and Pat rode up to the Talc mine. It’s a huge canyon that evokes images of old western movies. There are so many vantage points from which to view the surrounding mountains. On Thursday, Jenna, Jessie, Steve, Marybeth, and Caroline found a mountaintop pond, which they named as “Jessna Pond”. It seemed like the perfect place for cattle to gather to escape the heat of the day. When riding out to graze every day is different and new.
This week Phil, Pat’s Husband, rode along with Dave as he drove around Davis checking water tanks, filling mineral, and maintaining fences. One night he came home telling of the huge black bear they saw on the mountain, which may be largest bear we’ve seen all season! Phil also acted as resident photographer and caught some of the inner workings of the ranch as they happened.
This week marks my last Highline of the season. As I prepare to depart the ranch, I am reminded of how much of a home it has become. From walking into the corrals and seeing familiar equine faces to riding with some of the best horsemen and women in the country and working alongside my ranch family. McGinnis Meadows has been a big part of my growing up and each time I return I not only become a better person but am able to see another side to the person I am becoming. It has been an honor to ride with all of you and write for everyone reading from afar.
No matter where my life takes me – I’ll always know the way home.
August 18, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 32
The big job this week was to find all of the cattle in the McKillop pasture and push them through the Elk Creek pasture onto Davis Mountain. This task was continued from last week and we were determined to find every steer before the weekend. Involved in the cattle finding were Genna (who celebrated her 11th birthday with us on Wednesday), Mary Jo, George, Danielle, Catherine, Ruth and Sherry. In mixed groups with Brenda, Scott, Jessie, Jenna, and Sue they spent the greater part of the week scouring the mountain to find all of the steers.
We finished the week joined by Roby who found the final 15 steers in McKillop. All of us were thrilled to have succeeded in bringing all of the cattle bringing a triumphant end to two weeks of gathering.
A lot goes into finding and moving cattle into a new pasture. We think constantly of where to block, where to push, and where to let off. What gets less attention is the importance of having a good count. Having a good count when moving cattle into a new pasture is vital – without one we don’t know if any are missing. If our count is accurate and comes up short then we can know that a steer might be injured, sick, or just outside the fence. If we aren’t absolutely sure how many cattle are in each location then we won’t know if they are all healthy.
Counting cattle can be challenging, as individual cattle are hard to distinguish from a sea of black bodies, heads, and legs. One of the worst places to count cattle seems to be from below them as they travel down a road – all you can see is a bunch of moving legs. By pushing the cattle gently we can get them traveling in a single file line making them far easier to count, especially from a vantage point above them. If they are traveling through a gate it is best to push them slowly one or two at a time with someone out of the way on the other side of the gate taking the count. Often we count our cattle three or four times just to be sure we are consistently getting the same number. Because we counted so well while moving cattle to Elk Creek and Davis we know how many we should see while checking cattle in the coming weeks and months.
This week was prime for not only cattle but wildlife sightings as well.
On Thursday, one of our cattle searching groups saw the black bear that has been frequenting the upper water tank on McKillop. Shortly after that they saw two skunks – one of which crossed the road right under Gunner’s nose! We were glad that neither felt too threatened, as we didn’t want them to spray us. They retreated to a burrow under the road.
On Friday, we saw several signs that a mountain lion was on McKillop. There were tracks in the dust along the sides of the road and the cattle, when we found them, seemed slightly panicked. We kept a close watch on them as we brought them from Elk Creek and were well prepared in case we saw one. Saturday, Scott saw a whole herd of elk in the Davis parking lot where they drank half of the water out of the tank there. Also seen this week were deer, frogs, and a whole flock of wild turkeys.
This week in horsemanship, Roby taught the first few days as Shayne and Des were out of town. Roby worked with guests of several different abilities and reviewed how to create energy and life in their horses. Without energy, there is nothing to direct, meaning you’ll struggle when trying to work on lateral movements, straight lines, transitions and really anything that requires movement of your horse’s feet. Shayne touched on these points as well as others when he was back teaching on Friday.
Once everyone improved in this area, fine-tuning the transitions came next. How prompt is your horse when you ask him to go from a walk to trot, to a trot to a canter, or back down to a good, lively, walk? Counting strides can help you be honest with yourself, and accurate about whether or not you are both improving. It was fun to see everyone working hard at these components all while getting a soft feel and lightness in their horses! Being able to control rate at different gaits and transitions allows riders to be able to do a job with their horses, like moving cattle, in an efficient way- too much energy might ‘spill the cattle’ and too little will have them stopping whenever the green pastures capture their attention!
All in all there was a lot of good riding these week- hats off to everyone for all of their diligence and hard work.
Until next week,
Jessie & Janice
August 11, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 31
Another great (and hot!) week at McGinnis Meadows has come to a close. We had a diverse group of guests that helped make this week a blast. From the East Coast we had Chuck, Susan, and Liz and from the West came Ross, Samantha, and Jen, Catherine, Peg, and Kyla. The South was represented by Holly and Tony as well. On the international front we had Genna from Germany and GG from France. Al doesn’t really fit in any of these groups because it seems he’s from just about everywhere! By the end of the week everyone was friends and it was delightful to be part of the camaraderie of the week.
Throughout the week we worked to move the cattle from the McKillop pasture through Elk Creek holding pasture to Davis Mountain. Davis is their last stop of the season and they will reside there until the fall when we gather them and bring them back to the ranch. Since the temperatures were in the 95 – 100 degree range we started early in the morning, driving groups out to graze to move cattle before the heat of the afternoon. This was our first week of the season trailering to Graze and it was fascinating to see what goes into preparing the vehicles and loading the riders and horses. There is a fine art to knowing the order in which the horses should be loaded and it is important to know how to place them correctly in order to maintain tranquility in the trailer. It is my opinion there are few things as exciting as hauling out early in the morning to search for cattle.
One of the challenges we had on Friday was moving a blind steer to the corral at McKillop. Once in the corral (with a buddy of course), he was brought back to the ranch. He should regain some sight and is currently wearing an eye patch. Genna has named him Jack Sparrow and he will be kept at the ranch until he is ready to go back with his friends on Davis Mountain. Until then, we have the pleasure of having Jack in the scale house pen and seeing him every day.
On both Thursday and Friday we beat the heat by taking large groups to the lake. Everyone paddled and swam their hearts out. We also got the rare treat of having Roby accompany us to the lake, bringing along some of his own lake goodies. Roby’s immense lake arsenal includes not only a paddleboard and a Kayak but also a giant, purple, winged unicorn named “Magic”. Magic was a big hit, especially with Genna and Kyla who rode along being towed by Brenda. A lot of watermelon was consumed and fun was had.
In horsemanship, groups worked on riding with the reins in one hand. Although this is not often done in the course of a typical horsemanship session it is important as we prepare to be able to advance our horses to the bridle and to do everyday jobs on the ranch. From flagging horses, roping, and opening gates, it definitely let everyone know where they were depending on their reins rather than their seat and legs to direct the horse. It was a challenging exercise but also extremely enlightening.
As frequently happens here at the ranch we had to say a few goodbyes this week. Anna went home to start her final year of college and Vanessa went home to prepare for the start of the school year. Their positivity and enthusiasm will be missed, however, both will be back next summer – we can’t wait!
That’s all for this week,