The Highline Blog
January 12, 2019 – Volume 13 – Issue 52
We are in our own little misty section of the world this week. It started with the most snow we have received all season, to rain mid week,
then the fog rolled in so thick at times we couldn’t see the mountains around us. But here at the ranch we always make the best of things. A couple of us decided we were going to get creative… I am pleased to introduced Ralph the snow cowboy with his horse Waldo.
This week we had Scott and Lorna join us for a week of horsemanship. The two of them hit it off from the start and enjoyed a lot fun with Roby in the indoor arena. Roby had them starting on the ground, moving through the fundamentals, and then working together following each others circles and patterns. Roby set the challenges and Scott and Lorna enjoyed working to meet them.
Scott comes to us from Indiana and has been here several times now. He loves to work on and be challenged in horsemanship. Scott was happy that he met all his goals he set for himself this week. The small size class was also a highlight for him to learn and work on movements with that one on one feel. Scott liked that he was challenged each day with a livelier horse and to feel different types of horses was awesome. And of course the scenery and food was top notch as
Lorna says this was the best week ever!!! She has learned so much in the past two weeks. Her and Scott worked well together and of course she likes the smaller group atmosphere. Lorna is amazed how much the body can play a role in moving the horse without the hands. She was tickled pink that she was able to improve in that area this week. She rode her favorite horse Emma all week and just can’t say enough about the experience.
Well, as we enjoy the heat wave of temperatures above freezing over the next few days (according to the weatherman), we look forward to seeing our old friends and new that are coming out to join us this week. Hopefully Ralph and his horse Waldo will be around to wave them a greeting when they come up the drive of the ranch.
January 5, 2019 – Volume 13 – Issue 51
Happy New Year from all of us here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch.
The ranch family gathered at the Belgarde house and had ourselves a little feast of snack food right before the ball dropped in Time
Square to celebrate the coming of 2019. We ate & laughed till our cheeks hurt. It’s nice to start new traditions with close friends, especially since this is a few of us’s first holiday season here at the ranch.
We have three guests this week that have been to the ranch several times. Roby switched things up by having them ride several horses throughout the week. He even said there was a healthy competition going on amongst the guests and everyone was in the lead at one time or another.
Richard and Helen hail from the great state of Montana and have enjoyed coming to
the ranch for several years. Richard enjoyed that there was a smaller group this time. It allowed for more of a one on one feel instruction and challenges to work on particular moves of horsemanship. Helen always loves riding with Roby, watching and learning from him. Both agree it was a good week.
Lorna likes us so much that she is back for the sixth time in a year from Michigan. In fact, she is hanging out with us for another week. A couple of her memorable moments of the week were when they were doing turns at “Roby Speed” and working on having life at a walk. Lorna
says this horsemanship is challenging but she learns something new each time she visits.
Scott is back from his family visit and is eager to start applying what he learned at farrier school along with Anna. I asked him to share with us his experience. What were his highlights and challenges along the way? Here is what he had to say….
Scott enjoyed the challenge of working with different horses that had issues that he has not seen here at the ranch. For example a horse that hadn’t been trimmed on a regular schedule… to bring the hoof back to where it should be or putting shoes on that helped correct an issue. The best experience is seeing the horse’s disposition change once he was done. Scott says his time at school was quite rewarding and is looking forward to applying all he learned with the ranch’s herd.
Once again we want to congratulate Scott on his accomplishment. We are excited to see him grow in his trade.
2019 is going to be a good year. You will have to keep checking in with us to see what the year holds. We always enjoy seeing our old friends and meeting new ones. If you’d like to be a part of this with a “hands on” experience, give us a call and we can get you booked for a reservation!
Happy New Year and Happy Trails,
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and looking forward to the new year. We had some fresh snow on Christmas Eve. It was a
perfect Christmas card scene when we all woke up on Christmas Day.
All us here at the ranch had a Merry Christmas dinner down at the Merz house. As promised here are some photos for you to see how us McGinnis Meadows folks celebrate. The white elephant gift exchange produced a lot of laughs. We had a wild game of catch phrase going and a competitive card game of Nertz going on that night
too. If anyone went home hungry it is a mystery due to the amount of food we had cooked up. I do believe we have started a new MMR Christmas tradition and looking forward to what next year brings.
Roby continues his way through the guest horses and the wranglers are working on bettering their horsemanship each day.
I don’t know if all of you have heard… Anna and Scott have completed Farrier School. We want to congratulate them on a job well done. Scott is visiting his family at the moment, we will hear more about his experiences when he returns next week.
Anna has jumped right in and started the scheduled trims. It is fun to see her with so much excitement and enthusiasm when she talks about her experience at school. Here is some things she had to say when I asked her what was the highlight of learning a new skill…
“The highlight for me personally is to see how we can best support the horses, like horses that might travel differently based off of their
conformation. We can now give them a little lateral support and help them move better. That information and teaching is just invaluable to me. I’m excited to see movement through new eyes!!! We can help them [the horses] move more comfortably and freely so they can work cows, and have fun with the guests. And that is priceless! I am so grateful to Shayne and Des for such a great start into this industry and I can’t wait to learn and grow with the horses at the ranch.”
Congratulations Anna on your accomplishment. We are excited to see where this takes you too!
It looks that winter has finally settled into our area with chiller temps and with a little snow each day. Each morning the mountains are crystallized into a beautiful frosty snowscape. It’s a sight to see the horses being jingle in with ice cycle clanging in there tails and mains. It really is something you have to see.
From all of us here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch we are looking forward to another fun filled year with our old friends and new friends we haven’t met yet.
Happy New Year Everyone!!
December 22, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 49
Christmas is right around the corner and here at the ranch we are getting excited for the day. Even though most of our families couldn’t make it out for a visit this year, we as a ranch family are getting together to have a big Christmas dinner at the Merz house. And to make life a little more cheery we are doing a “White Elephant” gift exchange. I have heard buzz around the water trough saying there are some interesting gift ideas. We’ll take some pics to let you in on the fun!
Roby and the wrangler crew (Brenda, Janice, and Jenna) are still continuing on honing their skills on the fundamentals. The ropes were swinging the other night in full force. And Roby is still continuing putting some good rides on the guest horse strings getting ready for the upcoming season.
The attack of the dust bunny is still in full force. The cabins & rooms have been conquered and the public areas of the lodge are in the cross hairs now!
Dave has been chipping away at projects sprucing up different areas of the Ranch while the guests are celebrating the holidays with their families. He is working on putting in a new ceiling in the pantry and in the office cubby space, in amongst his routine checks of all the buildings for cold weather issues. And speaking of cold weather issues, we have been having warmer temperatures during the day with a decent amount of rain and freezing at night. Dave and Brenda have been out this week spreading straw for the horses to walk and bed down in. And for us humans to get around without ice-skates too!! The fickle weather can make it a challenge for all two & four legged animals to get around some days.
In the mid-afternoon you can put an ear out to hear the big John Deere tractor. That would be just Erin and Dave driving around with the flat bed trailer feeding the critters. I say critters because our friendly herd of Elk has figured out when dinner is served and they hop over the fence to share a meal with the horses. I have been unable to obtain a photograph for your viewing pleasure. I might have to bust out the camouflage but I going to get one this year. So just stay tuned!
According to the weatherman old man winter is finally going to get around to our part of the mountains with colder temperatures and maybe a little snow to freshen up the earth for a white Christmas. For a few of us, this is our first Christmas on the ranch and we are looking forward to creating new traditions and sharing some old ones too.
From all of us here at McGinnis Meadows we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!!
December 15, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 48
Well, this week we have a start on that snow for a white Christmas but the temperatures are still reasonable. Old man winter hasn’t come through our neck of the woods in full force yet.
This week has been a little bit more low key since our guests are busy getting ready for the holidays. But here on the ranch life still moves along with different projects and activities.
Roby is putting some good rides on all the guest horses in the next few weeks. He calls it a tune up for the up coming season. You will find him out in the indoor arena going through the moves to make sure each horse is ready for guests to get the best horsemanship experience here at the ranch.
But what is neat this week is that Brenda, Janice, and Jenna have the opportunity to join Roby in the indoor arena. And of course, we all know how much Roby loves to teach and challenge those who ride with him. He has them working on all the foundation work that Buck, Shayne and Des teach, with some roping getting ready for the upcoming branding season this spring.
Some might call it spring-cleaning but here we call it deep cleaning. Jenna, Erin, and myself are elbow deep in spiffing up the cabins and lodge rooms. Getting ready for the next round of guests. We haven’t found a dust bunny that we couldn’t handle.
Whether it is riding or doing other chores, every morning we are reminded of what a beautiful place the ranch is. The scene never gets old of the horses making their way through the fresh snow as they are jingled in each morning. Or the fog crystallizing the meadows just after the sun has come up. It’s a special site to see here in our slice of heaven in the Rockies.
December 8, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 47
We got a dusting of snow here the past couple of days and the mountains are looking a little bit whiter now. We have been pretty lucky to date with temps being very reasonable for this time of year, but it sure feels colder the past couple of mornings. It is about time for winter.
We had a small but avid group of students here this week.
Lela competed her third week in a row here at the ranch! She really improved her seat and it showed in the results she was getting with the horses she rode. Tom from Connecticut visited last year and came back for some more horsemanship. He also made progress in several facets of his riding, including being able to get more life in his horse then dial it down. Kelly and Jacqueline are friends who made the trip together from Pennsylvania. They studied hard and had a great time in the process. This week our guests were able to switch horses with each other – this really allowed them to feel what each person put into the horse and compare if they were able to make them better, or if there were spots in their riding to work through.
Roby is teaching while Shayne and Des are away on vacation and he always does a fabulous job of keeping riders engaged, challenging them and encouraging as needed.
On a sad note, as you may have read on Facebook, our good friend and co-worker, Nathan, will be leaving on Sunday to embark on a new life. He has been here for seven seasons! First and foremost, he was our farrier and took great care of each and every one of our 110+ ranch and client horses. He has been the best farrier we’ve ever had and the herd was never more sound than while under his care.
Of course, Nathan was also a wrangler, was often the first person a new guest would meet at the ranch, always picked wildflowers for the ladies on his horseback rides and gave quite a few roping lessons! He spent several seasons grilling steaks for the guests, branding their boots and hats and building bonfires. He did a TON of stuff behind the scenes over the years to keep the ranch running smoothly.
Such an amazing individual couldn’t be tied down for long! He met a guest at the ranch named Marianne and they fell in love. After doing the long-distance thing for long enough, he made the decision to join Marianne in the Netherlands. After a few weeks of adventures and well needed rest, Nathan plans on becoming a saddle maker and all around leather-worker. He’ll still shoe a few horses from time to time, but it’s about time to give his back a rest from such hard work.
Nathan will be back to visit though! We already have him committed to come back in April to supervise Anna and Scott putting on the first shoes of the season. (They were his students last summer and fall and are both finishing up shoeing school in California at the moment!) He’ll be riding with us every day too! Maybe you guys will be lucky enough to ride with him again too? We wish him the very best. And we are looking forward to seeing him in a few months!
Everyone here is getting ready for the Holiday season- We now have a fresh cut tree in the dining room
along with decorations and colored lights outside. If you look closely you just might find that some elves have been busy decorating the smaller tress that reside close to the lodge. When you work on a ranch, the horses don’t know or care that it is a holiday, so life goes on pretty much as usual with chores and business that needs tending too. But I can’t think of a better way to celebrate and spend the holiday season than with a close knit group of people who have really become a second family to us. Now all we need is some snow for a white Christmas (just a little though!)
Janice and Adrienne
November 25, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 46
It was another busy week here at the ranch! We had eight guests, with Lela, Clive and Norbert staying on to continue their education. What a fun group- sometimes when I am up working in the office I can hear the peals of laughter coming up from the dining room- it is great to be a part of knowing that everyone, even despite a challenging learning day, all become friends in such a short time.
Karmen, who was an intern with us last winter, returned to gain more knowledge. We also had Peter, a local Kalispell resident, Kristina, Lisa and her daughter Morgan who were here for their first time.
The week was filled with creative ways to help riders overcome some old habits that can stand in the way of achieving the next level of riding. That is just one huge benefit of the horsemanship programs here- the teaching is never stagnant- if someone is having trouble understanding or doing, as long as they are willing to work hard at it, our teachers will never stop helping.
Peter had very limited experience with riding horses so he was able
to learn a ton about a variety of things. Shayne showed guests how to bridle and unbridle their horses under the close eye of the wranglers and everyone took great care to follow the steps. It can take only one bad experience of hitting a horse’s teeth or pinching their ear to get them hard to bridle, so he is very particular about how it gets done.
This group of guests as well as last week’s, were just awesome with wanting to pitch in to help with everything from brushing horses in the mornings, to cleaning pens at night. Many of them have horses and work in the horse industry at home and they preferred to be kept busy. Wow- it was really appreciated and the staff was feeling pretty spoiled :-). Thanks everyone for all of the help!
Kathleen, our intern, headed home today back to her husband Brian, who we are sure missed her the past 4 weeks. Kathleen was a great student which is not surprising given that she was an airforce colonel in her former life. She made huge progress in learning how to use her seat and legs. She and Brian will be back again as guests next year and we can’t wait to see them both again.
On a sad note, we are sending our thoughts along to Des, who lost her beloved dog Gus after 13 years of companionship. These animals of ours are such a huge part of our lives, and it is always so difficult to see them move on. Gus had a great life with her and she’ll always have great memories of the fun they had together.
Dave and Adrienne returned from their Thanksgiving vacation, as did Roby, so we are back to most of our crew for at least a couple of weeks! The staff here is amazing… starting today you can read about each member of the McGinnis Meadows crew in our Facebook “Year in Review” series. Learn what we all took away from this past season and get to know a little bit more about us!
Of course, you can always visit in person too- If you make a reservation before December 15th for a 2019 week, with friends or family, you’ll receive a discount! Contact me at (406) 293-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
We got a dusting to an inch of snow overnight and the temps are predicted to be quite a bit colder than they have, so it appears that winter is finally arriving.
Have a great week!
November 24, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 45
Thanksgiving Week! My favorite week of the year!!!
And this was my favorite Thanksgiving week to date! I’ll tell you why…
First of all, 8 out of our 9 guests were repeats. The only one who was new, Kelly, came with two of our repeat guests and she immediately blended in. It felt like we had our family over for a visit—except maybe better 😉
An interesting fact this week was that out of our 9 guests, FIVE of them had previously had, or currently have horses in training with us. That definitely shows the dedication of this group of people! Casey and Ann brought their personal horses this week (who were both past client horses) and Lyne and Kathy rode their personal client horses who are currently in the program. Roby has been riding Andy, Lyne’s horse and I’ve been riding Romeo, Kathy’s horse and it was so neat to see these ladies ride the horses, help them here and there, but mostly to see how well they both got along!
My birthday was the day before Thanksgiving and I was so grateful that all of the kitchen staff took time out of their day (they were BUSY with Thankgiving prep!) to come out to the arena with a custom made “Keto” birthday dessert. I’ve never had the honor of being sung Happy Birthday, while eating dessert, while horseback! And on Omar nonetheless! It was quite majestic, hahaha. Our crew is simply THE BEST!
On Thanksgiving, we just took a short break for mid-day snacks, but otherwise, rode straight through until just before an early Thanksgiving dinner. The place was decorated so beautifully! In lieu of our normal pre-dinner prayer, instead we went around the table and each person said what they were thankful for.
Miriam and Jenna cooked up two turkeys—one traditional and one smoked! There was also the juiciest beef tenderloin I’ve ever had! Lots of sides, of course. Hot buttered rum, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and Jenna made a couple of “keto” cheesecake pies for some of our staff and guests who are trying to eat “healthier.” It was the yummiest Thanksgiving dinner we had ever had!
So much great stuff this week. I’ve hardly even mentioned the riding—which was the best part of all! All of Shayne, Roby and my “re-ride” string of horses continued to make great progress. It’s so fun to feel how much a horse can change in a short amount of time, simply by going through the progressions each ride, focusing on their balance and rewarding them often.
Each guest made great strides on their horses. Everyone was a high achiever and worked to be the best for their horses each day. With these types of students, there is not much re-riding that needs to be done to maintain the horses. They are able to maintain softness and life.
In the event that we jump on a horse to demonstrate something a little tougher for the guests—we are pleasantly surprised by how good they feel!
I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving week as well! Maybe you can join us in the arena and at the dinner-table next year 🙂
November 17, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 44
We just wrapped up our first ever 8-day clinic at the ranch! The consensus between Shayne, Roby and I, and that of our guests was that this was the BEST Winter Horsemanship instruction, EVER! It was so good that we are planning on doing another extended program later this winter and then maybe even beyond that!
The clinic officially started last Friday, but guests were encouraged to show up early on Thursday to watch Shayne, Roby and I riding through all of the horses we were going to use for the guests during the clinic. Guests were able to see how we went through our progressions, how the horses responded, and how we might have addressed any areas that the horses were weak in. All horses that passed the test of progressions were then rolled over into our guest and intern riding program. Some horses did not pass all tests and that was another learning opportunity in itself because the guests were able to watch us continue riding these horses throughout the clinic and watch how much better they became with each ride!
Guests and interns rotated through the string of horses daily…everyone’s horse was switched every day. Basically, they rode between 6-8 horses apiece during the clinic and were able to feel how much different each horse was while still working on the all of the same progressions that each horse needed to be able to have. Some are smoother, some are bigger movers, some have a good trot but need work at a good walk, etc., but the goal was to get each horse to operate the same—with life, with feet free, with softness.
All of the guests in this clinic have been here multiple times and knew what to expect in regards to the intensity of the teaching style. What I absolutely loved about this group though, was that we were able to start at square one each day and work on getting it as refined as possible. What I mean is, very few people have the patience and tenacity to really work on getting beautiful united circles with life, with the ability to roll the hind in time with the feet, in perfect flexion, and then to have the timing to reach the front foot and go back into a united circle. And then to get this so good that they can accomplish the circles with legs only because their legs and hands had so much meaning together. This is what we do in every Buck clinic but the refinement takes quite a bit of effort and focus—especially when you are riding multiple horses. But this is what needs to happen first in the progressions, or nothing else will be worth much.
These guests are all dedicated horsemen and women so they were driven to succeed in this task. Because of this drive, they were able to accomplish every other task—a powerful walk in a soft feel, leg yield, stopping hard, backing arcs and turning fast! And that’s just at the walk! All guests were ultimately able to trot with arms folded on circles or straight lines, and canter circles of all sizes, never missing a lead. It was basically every teacher’s dream to have a class of students like this! Shayne was thrilled!
It was also really fun for Shayne, Roby and I to give our personal horses a break for awhile, to ride through several ranch horses. This is a very hard season and it can be SOOOO demanding on the ranch horses to be able to maintain their foundation through multiple riders and experiences. We re-ride them throughout the year, but not nearly as often as we’d like to. Some of the greener A and B string horses need their foundation revisited more often, as do those who can be very sensitive.
Shayne has taken over riding Billie, Pecos, Badger and Malone. He’s going to ride them all winter and come springtime, they will be quite fancy! Roby is re-riding Bandit and Quick. I started riding Nigel, Max, Catman and Omar. Nigel and Catman will be longer term projects (and I’m not complaining about having them to hang on to!). Max and Omar should be ready in the next couple weeks if all continues to go well.
I’m just so happy with all of it—our guests, our interns, our horses. I love how Shayne continues to refine his teaching style and adjusts the format to be able to suit every horse and rider. It’s nice to have a mentor that continually challenges you to be more refined, softer, kinder to the horses and who can demonstrate everything he is teaching. I can’t get enough of the comradery between, he, I and Roby in this teaching environment—we just have so much fun. Between the horses and the people, I just feel wrapped up in one big family and every day I count myself so very blessed to be a part of it.
Next week is Thanksgiving and I’m already pre-thankful for all of the Ah-MAZZING food that Miriam and Jenna will be concocting! I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving as well!!!!
Till next time,
November 10, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 43
Well, the ranch is a little quieter now with all of the steers gone. We loaded them up on Tuesday morning and said our goodbyes. They definitely add another element to the atmosphere here and it seems strange without them.
Once the steers were loaded, several of us were fortunate to be able to audit Buck’s clinic in Whitefish. This is a true Horsemanship 2 clinic (one of the only ones that Buck teaches). It is so educational to watch not only Buck riding his horse Eddie, but to see the journey that everyone else is on with their pursuit of this study. Buck put Eddie in the hackamore for the first time at the clinic. Often times the transition can take a bit of time because of the different feel on their nose and the flexion coming from under the chin rather than the direct rein of the snaffle. With Buck riding Eddie though, by the second day you would never have known it was new to him. His horses are well prepared before he ever puts them into the next progression of gear, and it really shows.
Des, Shayne and Roby put in some good rides on Pard, Cooley and Daisy, as well as getting some valuable
feedback from Buck- we’re all studying this as hard as we can to continue improving. On the final day, girl power ruled with Des making some great heel shots during the finals of the “Whitefish clinic ranch roping competition”.
Once back at the ranch we started a unique guest week – an 8 day clinic format that is enabling these returning guests to really take their riding to the next level. Thursday was the first day of the clinic and it began with a demonstration of how the guest horses are prepared for the next guests who are about to ride them. Shayne, Des and Roby each rode several horses and put them through all of the progressions they use to get the horses rebalanced, have life and move out with a feel. Wranglers, interns and guests all got to watch this and it was very educational.
It has been snowing lightly here for a few days now…no accumulation but just enough with dropping temperatures to make it feel like winter is approaching. Nathan will finish pulling shoes off all the ponies and pretty soon they will be moved to the winter pasture next to the indoor arena.
On a sadder note, our intern Ashley will be leaving today to go back home. We have really enjoyed having her here and hope that she makes it back to the ranch sometime soon. We will miss you Ash!
As you have been reading in the past few editions of the Highline, winter horsemanship is in full swing with some pretty innovative teaching happening here.
If you’d like to get in on this, there are still a few spots remaining over the winter. And, if you book two back to back weeks, you’ll receive a 5% discount off of the already low rate, for the second week! Contact Janice to reserve your spot at email@example.com, or 406-293-5000.