The Highline Blog
July 13, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 26
This week at the ranch we dove headfirst into horsemanship… but with a twist. We practiced cutting! As some of you might recall, Hall of Fame cutting horse trainer, Doug Jordan did a private clinic at the ranch last month. Shayne and Des have been working hard to incorporate everything learned into getting their personal and ranch horses much more “hooked on” to the cattle and on the cutting machine. Shayne wanted to be sure he was not only able to get his riding horses better, but he also needed to be able to teach his best version to our interns and to our guests so that we could get the entire herd more “cowy.”
This week, Shayne and Des put all of their hard work to the test and incorporated guests and interns into the cattle and cutting flag program. We must have rotated through at least 40 guest horses! When it comes to cutting, Doug says you know you are on the right track when you are doing less and your horse is doing more on his own. You don’t demand that the horse hook onto a cow, you suggest it via pressure and release and in no time, the horses figure out the game and start hooking on and cutting on cattle because it’s actually the most peaceful thing to do! It’s amazing what these animals can do when we simply get out of their way.
To join us in our fun this week we had the beloved Binninger family who brought their personal horses along for the adventure. We always have a wonderful time with this handy family and they picked up the cow working really quickly. We also had with us again this week Jane and Terry Lynch who were game for anything we threw at them; this week they worked in the arena to learn cutting and also rode out for full day rides to check on cattle and explore the country. Terry was even so kind as to teach me how to fly fish this week! He is a great teacher 🙂
And not to be forgotten is our friend, Madi! This week she visited the ranch as Des’ apprentice to learn horsemanship and cattle work. We all had a great time with her! She is quickly improving in her riding ability- more than once wranglers had to tell her to slow down because she was cantering with such gusto around the arena! And to think she’s only 11 years old! Madi was also a great helper this week and was eager to be of assistance in whatever capacity she was able. In fact, she excitedly offered to help write the highline this week! Please enjoy this excerpt by Madi about her adventures here at McGinnis Meadows:
This week I was an apprentice of Des. I learned a lot from her and had fun along the way. I learned a lot about working cows and getting the horses straight and soft in a circle. I rode two horses this week, Mighty on Monday and Tuesday, and Boone on Thursday and Friday. Mighty was a very forward horse. He was easy to ride and had a very nice gallop. Boone was a good horse as well. He wasn’t as forward as Mighty, but I did get him to trot and canter multiple times. Boone also did very well on the cutting ball for his first time. I also got him to hook on to the steers. He did a very nice job and would want to follow them everywhere. On Wednesday, we did not ride, but we did some pretty fun things instead. For example, a group of people rode up Shayne’s mountain and saw some beautiful sights and some cattle. Another group rode through the state piece and checked on steers, water tanks, and mineral tubes. I went with Janice and some of the interns to Horseshoe Lake. We rode paddleboards and kayaks around the lake and Josie and I jumped into the middle of a little cove. We also saw a little tiger Muskie swimming around a sand bar out in the middle of the lake. We had a great time there. The wranglers I stayed with were really nice and caring, even though they might have sent me to the lake without sunscreen or almost forgot me at the ranch one night 🙂
As we head into the upcoming week, everyone here at the ranch is working hard to prepare for the arrival of Buck Brannaman. We are confident that everything will be wonderful for the clinics: the horses are ready for their guests, the ranch overall is being given an extra shine to ensure pristine accommodations, and, of course, Miriam has planned out extravagant and exceedingly delicious meals for us all to enjoy at the end of the day.
Well, folks, that’s everything for now! Stay tuned for the tails of our adventures with Buck this week!
July 6, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 25
Happy Independence Day everyone!!
It has been a great week here at McGinnis Meadows- the kind of week that makes you really stop and think about how truly blessed we are to live in the great state of Montana surrounded by mountains, lakes, and that big sky. Being witness to its beauty never gets old. And being able to share it with people that you have the pleasure to consider your family and friends makes it all the sweeter.
Here to celebrate the 4thof July with us this week was a great group of women from Australia- all friends and all accomplished riders. This set us up well for getting to business working cattle and moving them from one property on the ranch to another. Although coming to the ranch for the week not knowing anyone, our new friend Vanessa quickly blended in with the staff at the ranch as well as our Aussie guests. It was so nice how much everyone became fast friends. We also got to welcome home our dear old friends Jane and Terry Lynch. They have been coming to the ranch for years and are always keen to move a few steers with Roby or one of the wranglers. And of course we can’t forget Merle! An old friend of Shayne’s, at 86 years of age he trekked out to Montana and visited the ranch; after a day or riding he opted for a more relaxing vacation experience and rode around with Dave, helping him do chores, and taking some great photos.
On Tuesday almost everyone at the ranch rode out and moved cattle- there were just a few elusive steers left on Shayne’s mountain so one group rode out to find them. Other groups of guests and wranglers set out to the State section where the majority of the steers are now held to gather as many as possible and push them up to the water tanks. The final group set out to find a couple of lame steers and bring them back closer to the ranch for doctoring- don’t worry, folks, they’ll be just fine. Overall it was quite the day! Everyone came home just in time to unsaddle and grab some refreshment from the beer fridge before the thunderstorms
started rolling in.
Later in the week we all got to apply our horsemanship when Shayne and Des let the guests work cattle in the outdoor arena and practice with the cutting machine. Everyone had a blast! And it was the perfect day for it too- after what seems like weeks of rain, the sun finally came out and gave us the perfect day to practice with the steers. The horses are all really getting hooked onto working with the cattle; under Shayne’s guidance the horses and the steers are getting quieter and more efficient in their work- it is really something special to see.
To top off the week, we had a live concert from Boulder Creek Band on Friday evening! Everyone really enjoyed the bluegrass selection they offered and there were more than a couple people up dancing to the music 🙂 Following the music, Scott set up the bonfire and everyone gathered around for a laughter filled night- we even got to introduce our new Aussie friends to s’mores! Anna Banana even showed them her version of a s’more in which you ditch the graham cracker and just eat the marshmallow between two pieces of chocolate! And would it really be the 4th of July without fireworks? Dave made sure we were stocked with sparklers and gave us mini fireworks show as everyone lounged by the fire.
Well folks, we here at the ranch hope you had a great holiday. Stay tuned as wet get closer and closer to welcoming Buck Brannaman back to the ranch! The countdown has begun and our anticipation is growing 🙂
vibe about this group. Also, one of our long time friends and guests, Joy, has returned to the ranch! We are very excited to have her with us. She has three of her adorable personal horses here, Cisco and Hildago and Angel. Lynn N. also returned this week. Her horse, Andy, has been in training with Roby and she finally got to come ride him this week! And boy did she ride him, Roby had her doing everything from jingling the horses out to climbing the mountain to look for cattle. Her and Andy seemed to get along really well, and she’s very excited to bring him back to her home soon.
We continued with the task of moving cattle from our pasture land on Shayne’s mountain to the state piece. It’s getting harder to find the cattle on Shayne’s mountain because there are only a few left. Our guests did a fabulous job at moving all the cattle we did find though. Our Guests Camella, Nadejda, Carol, Kim, Morgan and Kelly really took this job on. They got several groups of cattle down off the mountain and onto the state piece. They are some tough cowgirls! We only have 9 steers left on Shayne’s Mountain now, so the work will continue next week.
with your body and not being so dependent on your reins for steering. You really have to have a high level of body awareness to be able to do this; but, It’s so much fun when you finally can guide the horse without the reins, you feel like you can go anywhere and do anything. The interns and guests who decided to stick with horsemanship really seemed to have fun. Beth really improved as the week went on; Her and Mighty were an awesome duo to watch, they really seemed to get along. Wendy, Kendall and Joy also really took to the horsemanship. It was very cool to see how everyone improved as the week went on.
On Thursday this week, many of the guests joined Anna Banana, our farrier, back in the forge for a half-day shoeing demo. These demo’s are very informative, about everything from anatomy of the horse’s hoof, to the actual process of fitting and tacking on a shoe. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it. In addition, we also got to watch Anna Banana trim one of Shayne and Des’ colts, Buzz. Des did a demo about how you prepare a young horse to have his feet done. It was very interesting to see how much work it takes to get a colt to where they are safe for the farrier.
June 22, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 23
This week at McGinnis Meadows has been filled with extremes: from moments of taking cover from large and looming thunderstorms to relaxing and laughter filled evenings around the fire- its been a great week. We got to welcome some old and good friends this
week as well: the Klipsch family was here for more cattle fun and horsemanship. In addition, Kara and Carol brought their horses with them for a third annual week of horsemanship training.
One of the major priorities of this week was to move cattle from Shayne’s mountain over to our state section. The Klipsch boys took on this project full force- with the help of Roby, Scott, and Shayne they devoted themselves to cattle work. At the end of the week nearly 100 steers had been moved! The boys also are great fisherman; whenever they were not horseback they were off catching fish out of Shayne’s pond or the creek. They even taught a couple of our interns their technique!
Although the first day of summer has come and gone, it doesn’t quite feel like it here in Montana; with all the rain this week, the normally sunny afternoons gave way to clouds and wind. However, all the weather we rode through during the day did give everyone great appetites for Miriam’s masterpiece of a meal every night. This week alone we were treated to crème brûlée, key lime pie, and chocolate mouse. And of course, Rachel is always baking to keep the cookie jar stocked- even though I’m afraid it’s a losing battle. We all eat the cookies too quickly! Her problem would be solved if she did not make us such delicious treats 😉
Horsemanship this week was, as always, a great time to learn and grow in our education; Des led a lot of the horsemanship classes in the indoor arena where we all worked on being excessively consistent with our horses in a soft feel. As we moved around the arena, we were charged to pick up a soft feel on our sweet ponies, ride with quality, and then reward the horses with a loose rein and peace. The slow pace at which we were able to practice all of this vital work was highly beneficial for everyone present.
The ranch horses here at McGinnis Meadows never cease to amaze us with their gentleness and ability; we are truly grateful for the opportunity to learn from such beautiful teachers. We got to welcome our newest intern, Bailey, into the fold this week. She is quickly learning the value of the horses that she has been allowed to ride as she adjusts to life at the ranch.
Well, another week has come to a close. We sadly exchange goodbyes with our friends as they go home and hope they come back to visit us soon. This week we have to say goodbye to our old friend, Bernie Ziegner. After staying for three weeks he is headed on back home. While we are purposefully here to learn from the horses, it is evident that we learn almost as much from the wonderful people we have the joy to meet along the way.
June 16, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 22
What an exciting and eclectic week!
I’ll try to remember everything in order here…
This was one of a handful of “off-weeks” this summer at the ranch. These weeks are open to stayover guests (we had two, Bernie and Lynn) and our focus during these weeks is on our internship program, continued education for our wranglers, catching up on ranch projects and re-riding through our guest string.
I’ve been riding a client horse named Romeo, and I also had the pleasure of having his owner, Kathy, stay here for the week to ride him before taking him home.
We had one wild steer on our Ferguson pasture, and had thrown a handful of steers in the big mountain pasture to try to lure him to join up with the group. But spotting him and bringing the small herd to him each day was a task that involved climbing tall mountains and riding through tough, brushy country! Romeo confidently took Kathy all over the mountains and never missed a step. She did all of the advanced horsemanship maneuvers with him in the arena and even got to work cattle with him towards the end of the week! The two of them got along famously and I’m excited for the two of them.
By the way…ultimately, it was Janice and our guest Lynn who finally spotted the cattle all together as a group and were able to get them off the mountain—a tricky task! With the help of Sue and interns Josie and Dani, the herd was finally relocated to the other side of the valley. GREAT JOB LADIES!
Shannon Lawlor did some paintings for Shayne and I of our horses and she came over from Canada to hand-deliver them to us! We were able to host her overnight and she was able to spend some time with us taking photos and watching the riding/horsemanship/cattle work.
Speaking of cattle work…We had a private 3-day clinic with Doug Jordan, National Cutting Horse Association hall of fame rider! Randy, Shayne and I were Doug’s students, and we were joined by Kathy on Romeo, and a several interns and wranglers who either audited, or held herd.
The clinic was SOOOO informative and Doug worked with us both on the cutting ball and on cattle. As a student of Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt, Doug was like a kindred soul to everything we work towards at the ranch with our horses and in our horsemanship. Everything was approached with a feel and with the horse’s expression, willingness and comfort at the forefront. We are so excited to practice what we’ve learned and to share the knowledge with our guests too!
Roby has been away at Buck’s colt starting in Sherdian. He called me this afternoon and said it went great and that he was able to start 4 colts who all came along really nicely.
It sure is nice to be able challenge ourselves in our horsemanship journey in order to expand our potential in what we have to offer the horses. I’m loving every minute of it!
Till next time,
Hey there everyone,
I hope your week has been as great as ours has been here at McGinnis Meadows! This week we have been given the task of moving all of the steers off of the Ferguson piece behind the ranch all the way to Shayne’s mountain across the country road. It is quite a feat but also quite fun. This week we have had a great crew of guests to help us get the job done; returning to help are McGinnis Meadows veterans Brian and Pam Frey- their love of the ranch and kindness will be missed when they go home. This week the ranch is also able to welcome back our old friend, Bernie Ziegner, who has been coming to the ranch since 2000.
The ranch had two birthdays this week! We celebrated with Adrienne on Monday night with chocolate cheesecake and we celebrated Anna on Wednesday with angel food cake. Two great women. Two great workers. Two great friends. The ranch is blessed to have them on staff.
Although moving the cattle to their next grazing allotment was the objective of the week, other classes were also taught by wranglers to reinforce the foundation horsemanship class that Shayne gave on Monday morning. Janice has taught groundwork classes showing the guests how to guide the horses’ feet, roll the hindquarters, and back up- all vital movements for a horse to safely perform with and without a rider on their back. Horsemanship trail rides have also been a lot of fun!
We also welcomed three new interns to the ranch! For their first week, Josie, Dani, and Yaz have had a great opportunity to ride some of our ranch horses, learn how to move cattle, and have been in a number of horsemanship classes. Dani and Josie even got to go out on a ride with Brenda to learn all of the gates, water tanks, and mineral tubs on Shayne’s mountain! This information will be important when they head out to check on cattle next week as well as when we have to gather them up for their next move. Per tradition, these interns are also required to practice throwing their saddles on the high wooden fence behind the mounting block. They must do this job smoothly and cleanly before they are allowed to try it on one of the ranch horses- they already are doing a great job!
Although we have had a good bit of rain this week, the clouds have not stopped us from having a week chock full of breathtaking views and critter sightings. The first fawns of the season are starting to be seen lying in the grass or under trees. Randy even got some photos of black bears nearby! And of course, the view from the top of the lookout never gets old 🙂
Doing so much good work has brought this great group of guests, interns, and wranglers close together. When everyone comes to dinner at the end of the day you are no longer sitting across from strangers you are sharing a meal with friends.
June 1, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 20
Hey there everybody,
Anna C (better know as Ahna) is helping in the office this season and we discovered that she loves to write :-). Here is her Highline debut for your reading pleasure…
After a long weekend of rain, clouds, and large mucky puddles the sun is out and we are taking full advantage here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch! Guests started their week with our foundation horsemanship class; in this class everyone had the opportunity to get a feel for riding our highly trained ranch horses as they learned how to hold and maintain a soft feel, use their legs to move the horses forward and laterally, and establish a solid posting trot. This week we have only a couple repeat guests- it’s wonderful to have Lisa ride with us again! Our other guests were new to the game but made quick progress: after one day of practice Sue was posting the trot on Jasper all over the property! It was a great first day!
Shayne and Des went fly-fishing in Florida for tarpon (on a fly-rod) this week. Thankfully, this year they did not get effected by any hurricanes 🙂 and it sounded like they had a great time! They’ll return back to the ranch in time to welcome in our next group of guests.
Now that the steers are happily living on our Ferguson property behind the ranch, we are given the fun job of checking on them and pushing them higher up the mountain every day. After having their first day of horsemanship instructed by Roby and the wranglers, excited groups of guests, wranglers, and interns set out to find and move the steers to water and mineral tubs around the mountain. There was a couple of times when the steers had a different idea in mind of where they wanted to be; as we tried to guide them uphill along the logging road, they would duck in the trees or jump up the hill just out of reach! While playing hide and seek with the steers, it was a great opportunity to witness the beauty of Montana so high up on the mountain; Ferguson is such a special piece of property to ride on because of the great vantage point that it provides of the meadows that stretch across the front of the ranch.
The meadows that looked so beautiful from above were found to be just as beautiful to ride in when Roby took his horsemanship class outside of the arena! Everyone had a great time riding through the meadow! Having the space to move out the horses really helped the more timid or inexperienced riders in the group find their footing and gain a lot of momentum on their progression. Roby had them out trotting and cantering on their ponies, riding formations, and performing all sorts of exercises. Everyone knows it’s going to be a good day when Roby is scheduled to ride with them- this was no exception.
After all that fun in the newly found sun, everyone came back to the lodge high spirited and hungry. While the horses munched away on their grain, the guests enjoyed their own post-ride treat and took advantage of the beer tap in the saddling barn. At the end of the day when all the horses were put safely to bed, wranglers, interns and guests gathered together for another of Miriam’s delicious meals. How could there be anything better?
Its been a great week here at McGinnis Meadows- so many kind guests have become fast friends as we all strive to become better for the sake of our horses.
Happy trails my friends,
May 18, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 19
This was another action packed week here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch. There were 12 guests, 8 of whom were visiting us again. The new folks were made right at home and got up to speed quickly on their horses, so they could get out and ride some country. We finished ear tagging and inoculating the cattle early in the week.
After just two days of horsemanship, folks who had not been on horses much, were moving cattle, sorting in the scale house pen, trotting and cantering outside in the meadows and up the mountain! We had Amy, Chad, Tina and Allie (both previous interns), Lynn, Ray, Jon, Flora and Clem back for more, and Sophie (Amy’s daughter), Judee, Michelle and Jake from Sweden, joining us for the first time.
Shayne was teaching horsemanship both in the indoor arena and outside this week, depending on how the weather and the ground held up. We got a bit of rain and mud but with last years work on the winter pasture, it is the perfect place to work on trotting and cantering through the trees. We also did some cavalry exercises where riders key off of other riders in various movements. It is really fun!
On Wednesday, he took some of the more advanced guests on a long trot around the ranch, over Ferguson mountain and back
through the west piece where the cattle were. They had a blast! Along the way he showed how to fix herd bound horses, how to post comfortably and change diagonals often, as well as how to negotiate water and steep up and downhills. Des continued her famous round pen lesson and many of the guests took advantage of this unique opportunity to work on their seat at the canter. The difference it makes in one’s riding and confidence is amazing!
Thursday we got to work the cutting ball. This is always a highlight for guests, staff and interns. This tool is not only tons of fun but it allows the horse to hook on because it can be worked at a speed that is fitting to the horse and rider.
On Friday we moved all of the cattle from the West Pasture out to Ferguson Mountain. This is their first step in their journey to make it out to the grazing allotment. Guests took them up to the water and mineral tanks making sure they knew where to find it and the cattle seemed pretty content. Next week is officially the final week of spring horsemanship for 2019. Shayne and Des are away (Fishing on their annual trip) but will return just in time for Peak Season June 2nd!
Wishing you a fabulous week ahead with many thoughts of horses in your head 🙂
May 18, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 19
This week marked our transition from our winter horsemanship/clinics schedule into our regular guest season schedule. We are still in our spring horsemanship/cattle work sessions, but the ranch is in full swing, with full staff, full activities and FULL, (too full!) bellies full of Miriam’s fantastic dinners!
Now that Miriam is cooking dinners, the staff all gathers with the guests for supper and conversation. Each night the tables are full of stories, jokes, and some tall tales. After such a long winter, I had forgotten how much fun these dinners are! Shayne and I ended up talking and laughing for longer than we planned for, each evening. But we couldn’t help ourselves—this group was so much fun and so many of them are such good friends.
The riding was pretty diverse. We had lots of horsemanship instruction, both inside the arena and out in the trees. There were two days chock full of cattle work—-gathering, ear tagging, worming and weighing each steer individually.
Roby was able to turn over two of his client horses over to their owners—Federico took over his colt, Forrest, and learn how much he needed to adjust his riding for a sensitive youngster! It was a great learning experience. And Julie took over her horse, Hoot. It was such a neat thing to see—the two of them just ginned immediately and she seemed like she had all of the confidence in the world riding him inside the arena or out of it, walking, trotting and cantering.
I had the opportunity to work with a guest named Mary and her Morgan horse, Smokie. He’s quite a bit to handle and Mary is staying over next week so that we can continue working with them both and getting them comfortable with one another.
All guests made great improvements, be in in horsemanship or in their savviness regarding cattle. They were awesome!
As can happen this time of year, we had daytime temps ranging from 80 to 50. We went from brilliant sunshine to pouring rain. Although the sun is nicer to ride in, we do need these big spring rains for our pastures. Next week the sun will be back and we’ll see that the grass has grown another 3 inches!
McKenzie leaves us to head home this weekend. We will really miss her. Her work ethic was amazing, she made great progress with her riding, and she is just a really fun person! She says she will be back 🙂
Anna C (Ahna) will be returning this week to help in the office and ride a bit and we also welcomed Alyssa to our seasonal crew. She will be interning and helping in the kitchen. It is beginning to feel like summer!
Have a great weekend guys!
May 11, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 18
Following on the heels of branding there were no guests this week so staff was busy sprucing up the ranch. Everything was gone over with a fine tooth comb- from horse equipment to the Highline area, horse pens, lawns, you name it!
Ash spent a good amount of time cleaning saddles and bridles and she did a great job- they all look like new. Scott took care of the saddle pads and cinches, and the halters are all washed and bright looking. Now that they are shedding out, the horses will be ready for photographs in all of their gear!
Check out the new tent floor, too- the gravel and slate was recently replaced with new tile and it looks pretty sharp.
Dave, Willy and Adrienne have been tending to outside projects; Adrienne can be seen all over the ranch, mowing, cleaning, and she is a big help in the office. Dave spent time up on the Ferguson pasture checking fence lines for when we turn out the cattle next week. Willy has been working on the irrigation system making sure it is working properly and then flooding the meadows systematically.
Our group of horsemanship guests coming in this week will be the first to get a glimpse of all the handy work!
Trent who was helping us with branding stayed over last week to meet up with his wife Julie, who will be a guest with us. He rode his horse out with Roby and the interns, checking on cattle and working on horsemanship.
Des and Shayne have been away in Seattle riding with the Mounted Police Unit- it was a huge success! They have been working with the unit for a few months and it was neat to see the progress. It was also something to see how this horsemanship carries to anything you do with a horse- to see Tucker and Whiskey out in downtown Seattle mingling with babies, semi trucks and general city life, (tucker has never been off the ranch before!), and handling it like it was nothing… that says a lot about the education they have been given.
We are excited to start up the season again and hope that we get to see you out here soon!