The Highline Blog

A Season of Go Go Go has Begun!

Hey all!!!

Des here! I know we are a little behind on our Highline, so let me just recap what has been going on the last couple of weeks!

For starters, we have had a ROLLERCOASTER of weather! This is certainly the strangest spring I’ve ever seen since I’ve been out here (almost 15 years)! It goes from dry and almost 90 degrees, to thunderstorms, to pouring rain the in 50s or 60s and then does that on repeat every few days. We even had smoke from a forest fire in Canada a few days last week! Thankfully all of that has been rained out…we are currently getting buckets of rain.

We had our SECOND guest stay of this season. During orientation, we knew we were in for a treat with the characters seated around the table. It’s not often that we have tears in our eyes from laughing in the first 30 minutes of meeting our guests. We were in for a lot of fun!

In addition to having our riding guests, we also had two friends come in to help us rope and brand—Ty and Will! This made for an extra special week, because guests had the option to ride each day, but they also had the option to run ground crew for our ropers—some would set ropes on front feet and hind feet, and some would give shots of wormer while others would run irons and lay on the ZO brand. Shayne, Ty and Will would rope each morning, with Noah giving relief holding front feet. In the PM, I would trot over and try to hog as many head shots and heel shots as I possibly could! We were done in 3 days with the last day being just fun, slow and easy. I was pretty sad for it to be over.

On the last riding day, we did our big ride with the guests to the top of Pier Mountain. I rode Chulo outside for the very first time and by the time we had ridden past the lodge, he was settled in and happily leading the group. We got LOTS of great pics up there, saw sooooooo many wildflowers—AND—picked off a few ticks—EWWWWWWWW.

Holly made our guests (VERY HAPPY) guinea pigs by trying all kinds of new

main courses, side dishes, specialty salads, breads and desserts! Even though the guests have left, we are still trying several more dishes in the shaping of our next guest week menu. So far, we have had some super yummy saltine breaded bone in pork chops, and a couple of fun desserts—Montana TRASH pie (think a melty cookie pie with coconut, melty chocolate chunks, pretzels, butter—lotttts of butter) and tonight we had a NUTELLA cheesecake with a BISCOFF cookie crust. I just love being one of Holly’s guinea pigs!

Tommy, our master farrier is back for several days to guide us in shoeing the herd. We are on a roll, having already gone through 22 horses in 1.5 days! Tommy is such a fantastic teacher. Besides Sami, we are a fairly green crew, but Tommy keeps us on track, gets us better each time and keeping the horses feet on the gain with every shoeing. This week it’s me, Sami, Noah and Max in the program. PLUS, Brenda is shoeing with us this go around! And hopefully in every other round from here on out. She is doing fabulous and Tommy is super happy with her. JENNA is working with our guests, Lynn and Joy, keeping tabs on jingling and cattle, and basically filling in every gap since we are all pretty tied up.

Besides that, the ranch just keeps rolling in projects. Brooklyn is keeping the place looking shiny, Alex and Nolan are keeping up with the yards…things are growing at a pace that’s hard to keep up with! CJ seems to be juggling so many different plates, I’m not sure how he keeps track of everything…but somehow water tanks are getting turned on, fences are getting around for horses and cattle, and about a million other projects are getting done and getting done well. And Zach, well he’s keeping everything running!

Willy continues his ranch beautification projects. He is currently on Shayne’s mountain, clearing roads and getting rid of thick brush and trees. It’s kind’ve become a jungle up there.

Shayne just got a sweet new sweeper attachment for the arena. A couple of passes and the cobblestone walkway looks like new! He is fixing up roads around the ranch, and has been working on completing our new 100ft roundpen! He helps me keep track of anything and everything. If you know Shayne you know he doesn’t miss much! His keen eye is a huge reason for this place running as smoothly as it does. He has ADD—Attention to Detail disorder, ha!

And of course, Randy is always close by with his cape tucked in, ready to come to the rescue for so many minor emergencies that seem to come up in this business.

We certainly have a fabulous crew this season! I’m excited to share them and this place with so many of you who will be visiting this season! And if you can’t make it this year, just keep reading and following on social media. We’ll keep you in the know.


Wild Cattle and a Little Yeehaw

We received our cattle in two phases over the last couple of weeks and found out that they were pretty feral and touchy! This made for an exciting time getting them moved around and put in their appropriate pastures. Our second load of cattle did not travel as planned and had no respect for the wire hot fence so they took a tour all over the ranch unexpectedly. The crew was able to reorganize and gather the majority of the herd that was loose and use them as bait for the cattle who were on the loose. We had two cattle run off on their own up into the 420 piece on the mountain. With two loose, this meant all hands on deck to find our cows. Maintaining the main herd in the Winter Pasture next to the 420 piece proved to be a good lure! CJ was out checking fences and saw one cow hanging out near the fence line in the evening. Brenda and I went out on foot after dinner at about 9pm and were determined to get this steer back in with the herd. We had to be thoughtful, because his bubble was about 100′ in all directions to influence him in any direction. After some thoughtful maneuvering we were able to trot him right in through the gates to his friends. The other steer was no where to be found so this meant that we would ride out horseback the next day to go find him on the mountain. We counted the herd in the morning with hope that maybe the lost steer would appear in the group, but he didn’t. A group of us rode out and gathered the herd holding them near the fence line while Des & Noah rode the fence line looking for tracks. Once they found evidence of the steer they tracked him until they found him. Meanwhile Max and I held the steers in a rodear with Nadine in an attempt to keep them quiet and nearby. When the steer was found, the goal was to push him down the fence line to a gate. We began to move the rodear down the fence line as well in hopes he would get his eyes on his friends. With some luck, des pushed him down the mountain and as soon as he saw his buddies, he trotted himself down the mountain, and right through the fence back to his friends. The fence stayed up and we finally had all of the cattle back together. With this new batch of cattle, they’ve taken time to get them more gentle and comfortable with us walking through on foot to check health in the evenings or riding through horseback for health checks. We’ve had a wild couple of weeks. The cows have settled and we are ready for our second guest week!


Shoeing into Spring

We all know Spring is upon us when the snow is melting and its time to get shoes on all of the horses! We spent 8 days with Tommy, our farrier and teacher we fly in every 6 weeks, on all ends of shoeing. By the end of his first trip to the ranch this year he had everyone in the shoeing pen! Even Des joined in for a 1/2 day every day and learned trimming, shoeing, and finishing. We were able to learn how the science of balancing the horses feet leads to better comfort, soundness, and performance for them. With Des knowing how each of the horses ride, she was able to put together the things she feels under saddle with what we saw in balance and conformation on the ground. We had a great 8 days learning every nuance of the balance of the foot based on how the horse was built and how the foot wanted to grow. Noah & Max our working interns joined in for the duration of shoeing and got their fill of education in not just shoeing, but having good feel with the horses throughout the process. Jenna was able to stay in the shoeing sessions and finesse her trimming and nailing skills. She even wore a ‘hoof necklace’! We all learned a lot, learned new skills, refined our skills, and realized shoeing relates to more than just the foot. When you get tired, frustrated, or struggle the feel still matters to the horse so they can have the best experience. We all found that feel has to be carried in everything we did whether it was how we got under the horse, running the rasp, or nailing on shoes, it mattered. Everyone came away albeit tired, with a new found respect for the process of shoeing and balancing the horses. Now for the final countdown to our first guest week in 6 days! Cattle arrived yesterday and the tent went up today. We are in the final push to have this place polished for guest season. See ya’ll soon!


As I Climb

Noah was brought onto the McGinnis team after participating in the working intern tryouts. He wrote a piece of poetry for the Highline this week. Enjoy!

Amidst the mountains of Montana’s grace,

The Scion climbs with strength and pace,

It’s tires grip the rugged terrain,

As I, a rookie, tend the plains.

But though I’m new and lack the skill,

To climb the mountain with my own will,

I take pride in my work each day,

As the Scion climbs, come what may.

For the ranch is my home, my place,

And though the Scion may trail the race,

I know my work is vital too,

In tending the land, all fresh and new.

So let the Scion climb the heights,

As I work hard with all my might,

For together we make a team,

In this land of a Montana dream. 


Working Intern Insight – Two weeks of learning!

Hi, my name is Brooklynn!

I do not come from an extensive background in the horse world, and only began my journey into the horse world around two years ago. I was super excited and nervous to apply for the intern tryouts. Having no experience with roping or cattle, I knew the stakes were going to be high, and the chances of being accepted to try out were very slim. Despite my lack of qualifications, I took the leap of faith because I just knew the experience would be worth any discomfort – and I am so glad I did! 

The working internship tryouts were two weeks of immeasurable knowledge, hard work, comradery, success, failure, and amazing home-cooked meals. All seven of the potential interns trying out were immediately welcomed by the staff and brought into the McGinnis Meadows family as if we had always been a part of it. The two-week trial was essentially boot camp for horsemanship, but with the best amenities you could ask for. The stakes were high, but everyone put his/her best foot forward and gave it everything he or she had. One of the most special parts of the tryouts was how every single day we got to watch Des ride every horse being used for the day, and how she would maintain the standard set of skills every horse needs to have to be able to do the job asked of them. No matter what horse, Des would get the same output on each horse. To see that level of consistency, from one horse to another, all maintained by Shayne and Des was eye-opening. Getting two weeks of essentially private lessons from some of the best horsemen in the world, for free, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Shayne welcomed each one of us into the best part of his world, and the two weeks spent in his world were worth more than anything money can buy. Shayne and Des do not just teach you how to ride a horse – they teach you what it means to truly be a horseman, and that teaches you to be a better human not only to the horse – but also others.   

As a greener rider, I knew I was going to be the underdog of the group, but I knew no matter what – this was going to be worth every grueling, embarrassing moment. To be introduced to what it means to really be a horseman is awe-inspiring. To know and see that the person running the show cares more than everyone in the room about all of our successes is a unique feeling. Nothing was always sunshine and rainbows, but nothing good in life comes without hard work. Every day I failed on at least one activity if not all, but none of the staff gave up on me or anybody else out in that arena. I knew after the first week that the chances of me being picked over the other interns were not high, but I knew that I did not want to leave this magical part of the world. My goal was to show how good of a student I could be, and hopefully, show how much I cared about the horses and being a better horseman. To my disbelief, my hard work and good attitude shined through and caught the attention of both Des and Shayne, and I was given the opportunity to join the McGinnis Meadows staff as a housekeeper while still being able to learn whatever I can from the wealth of knowledge McGinnis Meadows has to offer.

At the end of the two weeks, we were tasked with a follow-the-leader exercise. All the interns plus the wranglers were split into two groups, and each one of us had to take turns leading our group. The goal was to do any exercise we had learned within the past two weeks. It was hilarious while still productive, and we even had Des cracking up at all of us leading our group. We may have turned into drill sergeants at the same time, but we had to motivate our troops! Not only did we show that we had learned the exercises, but we also showed that we can teach others too! We all had a good laugh as a team. The hardest part was taking yourself and your peers seriously! All in all, these two weeks was an experience of a lifetime, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. 

I am excited about this upcoming season and everything it has to offer. I look forward to meeting some of you and being a part of your journey to becoming a better horseman. 


The Final Countdown

We are officially in the final countdown to Spring time around here. We’ve spent the last week shifting horses around to get them organized for the intern tryouts. Des has been busy getting many legged up so they are tuned up and fit for these two weeks of interns at the ranch. Shayne’s been busy riding and teaching in the arena challenging each of us in our refinement in the saddle. We have finished up cleaning all of our equipment so it is fresh for this upcoming guest season. Every piece of equipment was carefully gone through, cleaned, and conditioned. New parts were ordered from Frecker’s Saddlery for anything that was worn out. The vet has been here twice for joint injections and lameness re check exams to make sure everyone is in top condition for riding season. Randy is finalizing cattle purchases for the ranch. Cattle should arrive sometime within the next few weeks. Dori has done a full turnover of our cabins, buildings, and staff housing. We’ve ordered and pulled out mountains of beautiful new linens, rugs, and accessories to freshen up all of the guest lodging. Holly has been busy at work refining her menus and ideas for the upcoming guest weeks, so you can be sure there will be some new things on the menu this year! CJ, Zach, & Nolan have been busy getting every single piece of equipment on the ranch serviced, repaired, and in tip top shape. The shop has been a revolving door of tractors, trucks, vans, trailers, and other equipment being rotated through for inspection.

The snow is officially melting, blue skies are abundant, and we can see the road for the first time since November. The horses are in full shedding mode where every piece of hair is coming off in huge floofs. We hit a lovely 50 degrees today and boy did it feel like weather for shorts after the winter we’ve had! Our 7 interns arrived today and are here for two weeks for our first ever tryouts. They will be riding and working with us for two weeks as Shayne and Des teach and evaluate them to see how may be a good fit to join our team! The chosen intern(s) will be taken on for the guest season and get to learn the ins and outs of the ranch and horsemanship in every area. I’m sure we will have some big updates for next weeks Highline after the first week of tryouts. We’re excited and officially rolling into tryouts, finishing projects, shoeing horses, branding, and into our first guest week April 30th! We are almost completely full for guest season so on my end the office has slowed down a little. We do have some availability in August, October and November! So if you’re still wanting to book, its not too late, but space is limited. We are excited for this year and there’s lots of learning and adventure in store. Jenna and I will be starting our own colts with Des! That may in fact be the EXTRA added on in learning and adventure. Anyway, we’re excited to be rolling right on into guest season even if we are a little nervous our ‘list’ of to-dos will never get finished. But isn’t that always the case with anything horses? Anyway happy Spring ya’ll!


Power of Presence

We often wonder why when we walk into a room, building, or conversation we can feel the air of what is going on before we actually know what’s going on. People carry presence, we carry intention with every breath, and we shape the atmosphere around us by what we carry. Are we carrying joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc into the places we go, activities we participate in, and interactions with others? Or are we carrying their opposites? Anger, bitterness, fear, anxiety, stress, control, you name it, they all effect the spaces we occupy and the people around us. We all desire those atmospheres where you can be at your best, but we are all participants in providing places where each of us can thrive. Everyone knows it is hard to thrive when you can’t find peace, understanding, patience, and kindness. Well the same goes for our horses too. We are all trying to find a place for our horse to find peace and understanding in our riding. Much of that journey to find peace and understanding requires us to carry clear and direct communication that often times requires the pressure we talked about last week. Horses seek peace and comfort, where they find that, they learn. They seek that spot in the ride where you gave them a space to find peace. First you usually have to get through the pressure part where you’re constantly redirecting them to the path they need to be on.

A question of each of us in the saddle and in life is how are we applying the pressure? What kind of presence is carried with it? Is our presence with anger, frustration, pride, anxiety, fear or any other negative? If we want our horses to find peace on the other side of pressure we have to carry the right presence. Our presence in the saddle and on the ground requires us to be direct with them, carrying a firm, but kind presence, seeking out their benefit on the other side of the pressure. We are indeed contending for our equine partners with every ride, but this requires us being intentional with our presence. An example this week is with Rocks. Rocks has come a long way, but he despises the flag touching his ears and upper neck. He throws a fit and acts like you’ve offended him for a lifetime when you go to pet him with the flag on the ears. I’m in the process of creatively attempting to work through this area with him. Every session with the flag requires that my presence and the presence with the flag is carried with thoughtful attention. Shayne made a comment as he worked Rocks the other day that there was a lack of feel with the flag. I was lacking correct presence.

The next ride I came out with a different idea of how to approach the issues of the flag. Similarly to how Rocks improved with the poles the previous week, I thought to expand on the idea. The hope was to ride with the flag on his upper neck and near his ears while doing all of his progressions warming up. For the ride, the idea required two forms of presence from me actively. My legs had better mean something and be firm when necessary in asking for him to maneuver around the arena and my flag needed to remain in a comforting manner when he despised its presence. The primary goal was to focus him on the task of whatever I was asking him to do, so that the flag just became an inert part of the ride that was constantly present. At first he was bothered, distracted, and upset with the flag being in that spot. My presence remained consistent and the same no matter how many times he chucked it off his neck, threw his head, or hopped around. I kept directing him with a kind firmness to the task at hand with my legs and seat, occasionally plucking a rein to redirect his flexion. Every step of the ride required presence, peace, patience, and kindness while being direct and unwavering with the mission. Fear, impatience, annoyance, none of that could interrupt the ride, otherwise the atmosphere of what was attempting to be achieved would have probably gone nowhere. Rocks needed to know that the person directing him is the same, flag or no flag. The end goal at some point being that the flag is a place of comfort and pets when he’s on the right path. We were able to get to a few spaces where I let his feet rest and was rubbed with the flag on the upper neck and he would drop is head and neck. Maybe yawn, relax for a breath. I needed him to see that this place of rest he always gets in the rides that he loves is still the same space, even with the flag. We had some moments and I’ll count those as building blocks to the hopeful end result. The right presence had to be the foundation of the pressure being applied.

If we apply pressure in any area to people or horses with the wrong presence or many times the wrong ‘tone’ we generally get further from the desired result. Just like the grapes and coal transforming, our end result can be ruined by the wrong atmosphere. Your grapes can sour, coal can crumble, and in the end you start all over. The presence we carry in every situation, conversation, and ride either hinders or helps us and those around us to the desired outcome. Resistance is normal when change is in the air. But can we manage the most direct route to the end result desired by carrying peace, patience, and kindness as the foundation of the pressure we are applying? I think many of us, if we can prioritize the quality of the foundation of what’s driving us towards our goal, we may find more diamonds than lumps of coal on the journey.


Purpose of Pressure

Hey Everyone,

This week there’s been a thought of, what is the purpose of pressure? Now a consideration like this could be applied to a variety of situations, learning environments, and life circumstances. We can apply this idea of purpose in pressure to our rides on horses, but also how pressure is applied in life. We can be on the receiving end of the pressure or the one dishing it out. The questions begs the answer of what is the outcome of the pressure. Does the pressure create a diamond from a lump of coal or fine wine from a winepress? Or do we allow the pressure to unravel us in an unproductive fashion. If we apply pressure, is it effective for the desired outcome? All pressure is nuanced and should be! The end result should be something unique and have quality. We are all in a place of either receiving, applying it, or both! We had the opportunity to ride Monday – Friday this week in the arena for the majority of each day, and let me tell you, the pressure was on!

Des and Shayne came out with an agenda for Brenda, Jenna, and I to apply some pressure. They turned up the heat in the arena and put us to the test for two days. The pressure begged the question, have we learned over the last couple of months? Can we work with skill and quality at pace? I would say it was a reality check that we all needed, because each of us felt every piece of the pressure hitting us in a multitude of areas. We realized some areas of our riding happened with quality and others were a complete failure. In this case, our teachers were the ones pressing us to see what came out. We all know, that when you are pressed, the true picture always shows. Our picture was not one that was meeting I think anyone’s expectations in some area or another. The list of expectations not being met is a laundry list, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some good parts working for each of us. That’s not to be taken from a point of discouragement, but rather with understanding that there’s more work to be done, to produce the desired outcome. and meet expectation. We all know that with horses and life, it is a never ending journey. We all go through seasons of pressure which should later produce the thing you were contending for in the midst of the pressure. Were you contending for personal growth, spiritual maturity, stronger relationships, more educated horse, show partner, or less anxiety in the saddle? Or were you not a contender at all? Did you allow the pressure to misdirect you off the path set before you? We have an active choice every day to choose what we want to have on the other side of pressure in our lives. Much of the outcome is determined during the period between the initial pressure and the end result. Well this begs the questions, does a diamond become a diamond overnight? Does fine wine ferment in a month? Are all lumps of coal and all grapes going to become diamonds and wine? No. Unlike these two examples, we have an active role and choice to contend for the diamond and fine wine in our lives. The space of contending for us this week was found in the next three days after the active pressure let off.

For me, I spent the next three days collecting my thoughts over the months of watching and learning from Shayne & Des. Then I added that to the ups and downs to the two previous days rides and came to a place where I had some ideas of how to get closer to that fine wine ride. At the beginning of the week, I didn’t have good turns on my horse Rocks off of my legs only. They were inaccurate and especially to the right, we didn’t have much going for us. I also had zero backing off of the seat only. We really struggled with leg yields right to left. He just wasn’t committed to the soft feel in the way that was acceptable for where he was at. He needed to be more committed to it in order to carry himself through every maneuver. I’ll also add in that Des decided to put a ton of poles in the arena which are Rocks least favorite activity. I committed Rocks and I to get better about being on the same page for as many of the steps of the ride as we could manage. I chose to hold us both accountable, carrying pressure from Monday and Tuesday into Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The process created a more creative and dynamic ride with a pursuit of a certain feel in the saddle and expectation of outcome.

The highlight for Rocks was that we turned his anxiety about going over poles into direction and getting with me, rather than what was going on underneath his feet. He has gotten decent about his ‘slow walk’ and allowing me to place his feet with my legs. We worked that slow walk over every pole pursuing quality with every step. By the end, rather than scooting off after the poles, hopping over them, or quickening his stride, he realized it was about the slow walk, not the poles. Once his focus was redirected to what I was asking for rather than his environment, his perception of his surroundings changed. He was able to place one front foot over the pole and leave the other behind it and stand like that until I asked for the other foot to come forward. The ride that day, carried to the next, where he picked up almost where we left off, and his confidence increased. We were able to trot and canter poles without trouble and go right back to the slow walk without him unraveling. He finished the week with a better feel, better turns, and more confidence. Contending for him and I amidst the pressure while maintaining direction with purpose. produced more steps on the journey to the diamond hoping to be made.

If you notice, to have purpose amidst pressure, you have to have reflection, decision, and be willing to contend. When we have these building blocks in our lives, we gain a framework to stay on course to transform coal into diamonds or grapes to wine. First you will be put through the winepress and then there will be a period of living in the in-between space of what was and what can be. In the hallway of decision and contending is where we work towards refining the pieces of our lives. We choose daily to take up the correct path before us and not get pushed off the road. When we are doing the pushing, like in the case of me with Rocks, I want to help him reach his best too. Our lives are two fold, we are pressed and what’s within us comes out. What comes out, is how we press others towards their upward call. Choose your path well and let that pressure push you forward.


What are you striving for?

Swinging a rope on Rocks for the first time.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written for the Highline, but I haven’t had much to say. I’ve been in a place of reflection, decision, and contending. The winter here is a place of slowing down in many ways but also where we are are many times working in all areas to get projects done or to progress in our horsemanship. The question of, what am I striving for, has been a thought that has encircled my thoughts the last few weeks. What’s most important and where am I going. There’s been plenty of time to think and reflect, especially between Brenda, Jenna, and I. We all live together in the Davis house and regularly have thoughtful conversations about each other, Jesus, our horsemanship, learning, being good servants and stewards in our jobs, and how we can be our best for the ranch. Generally all of these conversations revolve around our personal growth, pursuit of our relationships with Jesus, and growing in every facet of our lives. Reflecting, deciding, and contending for growth in each of our unique ways and lives is a full-time & active pursuit. Today I’ll talk a little about where I’ve been reflecting, deciding, and contending for my future and the people around me.

Reflection always starts with where am I coming from, what’s gotten better, and then what doesn’t line up with who I’m called to be. I examine everything God’s gifted me with and then take into account the ugly stuff that isn’t working vs the active work of growth towards becoming more Christ like in my walk as a Christian. Sometimes that examination is a not so enjoyable one. The best part about the examining is many times the people around you do it first! Whether you wanted them to or not, but the best people in your life will examine you with an honest lens that calls you to grow in a better direction. Being at this ranch I’m surrounded by a lot of that, people who want you to be your best. At first it isn’t always appreciated because it hurts or is hard to swallow, but if you can quench the pride and self defense, you may be able to discern just what they’re getting at. In that space then without offense or deep hurt you can find your way to making decisions in who you’re going to be. For me this isn’t without prayer, pressing into what the Holy Spirit is speaking over my life, and refocusing to what my ultimate purpose is in life. There I can rise to that challenge of, okay, I need to be better.

I can’t stick my head in the sand or make excuse for why I am the way I am. Shayne called me out the other day in the arena for laughing every time he complimented me when I was riding. I didn’t realize what I was doing or why that was my default response. I didn’t have an answer for him when he point blank asked me why. I had to sit on that conversation for a few days before I could come to a place where I could see what I was struggling with to not be able to receive a compliment. I couldn’t take the compliment as the truth in the moment or receive it completely. I realized that one, it steals joy from the one giving the compliment to not receive it fully and completely. Two I struggle with it, because I carried my own thought of how the ride went at higher value than the teacher who was watching and seeing the progress. I got stuck in my own thought process of gosh, this ride feels like crap, and my horse is running away with me, this is indeed a mess. Whereas Shayne saw something different, he saw progress, me sticking in there, getting a change with my horse, Cat. Despite the ride feeling like a marginal disaster, Shayne saw something different, better. He saw what I couldn’t see. Recognizing when the people around you care enough to see what you can’t see about yourself and your life puts you in a position where you can grow if you choose. The decision is, am I willing to change? Can I make an effort in this case to be a better student and recognize when the teacher sees something that I’m oblivious to, take hold of it, and go forward.

Making decisions about who you are and where you’re going is only the middle step of that pursuit of growth as a person. A willingness to change some of the deepest rooted things is a difficult road. That is where contending for your future comes into play. We can choose a road of complacency and only changing when it’s convenient, but that’s a stagnant life, not the one God made you or me for. We are each so uniquely designed and gifted in different areas and many times we don’t live up to the potential we have due to our current circumstances. Life lived to a full measure, is a life that has to be contended for no matter what the world is throwing at you. I walked away from a different world as my own boss with clients, show horses, etc. to put myself at the bottom of the ‘food chain’ to re-learn how to be a better trainer, broaden my understanding of horsemanship, and refine my riding skillset. I could have stayed in the same industry doing the same things and kept on keeping on. I’m sure that would have been fine. That’s not where I felt God was pushing me to go. There was an urgency of, you’ve prayed to be more, do more, learn more, and be in a place where you can grow, so here it is. Here’s the opportunity to do just that at 32 years old, let’s flip life on its head and do something different. I may have gotten more than I asked for. Being here at the ranch, every ounce of my comfort zone has been busted. I’ve had to learn how to be a student again, rather than the teacher, and admit I really don’t know much. Every step of being here has required contending for my future. Without contending for who I want to be, where I’m going, and what the hope is for it to look like, it will never happen. Giving up here at the ranch isn’t something that exists. Shayne and Des won’t let you. At first I don’t think most of us appreciate that they care that much, to kick you in the pants to either contend for your future or quit and leave. We can all attest that it’s imperfect at times, that we get upset, struggle, maybe get pissed at each other. We’re imperfect people, all of us. What I can say, is that each of us have a capacity to forgive, keep learning, pursue growth, better friendships, and contend for one another. I’m thankful for people who contend for me and I contend for them. We push each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, and are on a journey together. I can only hope that everyone gets to experience a diverse community like that. When you come here, you certainly will.


P.S. Jenna and I decided to be ridiculous at Western Outdoor. I managed to fit in kids size three sparkle boots and enjoyed my new pony, much easier to ride. There’s a funny photo of Jenna too, but I’d rather not die posting it lol.

Signature of Spring

It came at me softly this morning – a light breeze from over the mountains. It was not veiled in bitter cold as has been these winter months, but rather warm and light like a silk scarf. I knew then that the unfolding of spring had begun. Sure, it is still early- only mid-February. Yet, that characteristic soft wind was unmistakable. Then, later in the morning, I heard a bird I had not heard all winter. Doors were being opened for more visitors to stay awhile. There was also a shift in the feel of the trees. They no longer seemed to stand dormant and lifeless, but rather awake and lifting their needles to a warmer sun.

Here up at the ranch, we revolve our lives around the seasons. Fall is for getting the cattle shipped and preparing equipment and the ranch facilities for winter. Winter is for keeping the herd well-fed and refining our horsemanship in the indoor arena. Spring is for branding new cattle, getting our guests horses legged up and irrigating the meadows for an abundant hay harvest. Summer is for moving and checking on cattle, teaching horsemanship and enjoying the company of our guests, and bringing in the hay that feeds our herd and our cattle in the late fall. It is a cycle that is like the back of our hand. We know it well. Yet, each season always has its share of surprises – rain in January, snow in July, hot sun in October and pure blue sky in April.

To me, each season has its own signature. Summer comes on strong and courts your heart with seemingly endless days of fun and games to be played until late into the night. There is no shortage of activity from the ground, the waters nor the sky. Spring gently moves in with warmer days and softer winds and then in a flash the meadows turn a blinding, brilliant green that you wish you could re-create and paint on your walls for the grey days of winter.

Fall has a characteristic scent of life receding into the deep soil and a feel of angled sunlight that makes your skin crinkle. Winter, the longest of them all, rolls in sometimes with massive momentum and sometimes with building force. The scent is clean but the feel is cold and at times abrasive. The sound, well, the sound is silence. Miles of silence. Sometimes, I will pause and wait to hear something, anything in the winter. Sometimes I hear the wings of a bird, but other times I simply hear my own thoughts. I console myself with the remembrance of spring. And, now, here it is! The first hint of spring. I smile as I write this. Soon, spring will be here and the newness of life will once again find center stage.

P.S. I took a couple of pictures today of our pastures. In a few short months, these pastures will hold cattle as well as horses. I can almost see them now. I can’t wait!