The Highline Blog

Guest season Arrives at McGinnis Meadows Ranch


May 18, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 19

Greetings Everyone!

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!

Riding in the meadows. Everything is really getting green!

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.

Federico with Hunk. You may remember Hunk when he was a Guest horse!

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.

Heli riding Cheech in the sorting pen.

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!


Julie (on Hoot) and Trent (on Tequila).

Marko riding Boone

Peter on Roanie, learning where his seat needs to be on up and downhill terrain. He did awesome!

Amy learning to rope with Norma Jean cheering her on!

Ear tagging and shots crew: Anna, Brenda, Peter, Dave and Scott

Nadja rode Chief well.


Let the Season Begin!

May 11, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 18

Hey Everyone

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!

                  Clean saddles!

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.

New floor in the tent!

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.

Seattle Police and Des & Shayne, ready to hit the streets!

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!

Happy trails,




new picnic area


Sparkling halters

Riding and Roping in Beautiful Montana!

May 7, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 17

What a ride these last two weeks have been!

Let’s backtrack to April 21st—the day that marked the start of our last 10-day clinic for the season (don’t worry if you missed out—we have some awesome 8-day clinics coming up in the fall, with cattle too!)

Ten Day Clinic! Cathy, MaryJo, Stephan, Matt, Lorie, Shayne, Karmen, Kenzie and Janice

This clinic was above and beyond amazing. Our fine group of guests also included 3 members of the Seattle Mounted Police Unit—riders Stephan and Matt and barn manager, Karmen. In addition, we had Cathy (Scott’s mom!), Mary Jo, Lori (with her horse Tilly), and interns Kenzie and Ash.

Each member of this group was given a personal invitation to join us, as they have been diligent in working with us during previous winter (and non-winter) horsemanship weeks. We knew that each of them would be ready to take their skills to the next level. This group ultimately exceeded our expectations—their passion, attentiveness and creativity was over-the-top!

Des helping Cathy get the timing for cutting

Shayne and I worked with them and their horses for several days of horsemanship—things ranging from soft feels at all gaits, neck ropes, calling out feet, leg yields, cow turns and cavalry moves to name just a few. On day 6, I came in and divided the guests and interns into groups of 2 or 3 apiece. They had the rest of the morning to choreograph a 3-minute routine, based on everything that they had learned. They made it really fun and chose songs for their routines too!

The groups were Ah-MAAAAAZING! I took videos of all of them—maybe I can get them up on YouTube in the near future! Each group performed entirely different maneuvers from the next and the riders were basically dancing with one another horseback. Shayne couldn’t believe his eyes—it was probably the proudest moment he’s had as a teacher!

Throughout the week, we would challenge the group to do larger choreographed maneuvers, cavalry maneuvers where each person would lead, and sessions where individual guests or interns had 10 minutes to teach the class whatever they wanted—ranging from turnarounds to soft feels to moving out in a soft feel. All of these teaching tools pushed the group out of their comfort zones but into entirely new realms of horsemanship!

Karmen working on her canter seat in

Towards the end of the 10-day, we took our guests on a hike up to the very top of Shayne’s mountain—above The Lookout, to a very large snag tree with an incredible view of the valleys surrounding the ranch and the Cabinet Mountains visible in the distance. Everyone made it to the top in short order, smiling and chatting the whole way. Not only was this group sporty in their riding, they were fit too! Coincidence? I think not.

We made it back from our hike just in time to get horseback once again. Our yearling steers were coming up the driveway in three big semi loads! It was about 6pm when everything was unloaded and there was plenty of daylight left. We opted to drive the cattle from the corrals, behind the lodge and over to Randy’s pastures. It was the first time that the Police Horses had seen cattle, much less had to drive them! They were a little worried at first, but Shayne worked with Matt and Stephan and in no time, their horses were relaxed and back with their riders.

The hike was beautiful. Shayne and Des take in the view

It was the first time I had done a job involving cattle with my client horse, Romeo. It’s a lot to handle for a horse to stand in next to the cattle trucks as the steers are rumbling out of them through the chutes right in front of your horse’s nose—but Romeo and I had a job—we had to get an accurate count. I’m sure he wondered why in the world we had to do such a silly job, but he stood in there and we got our counts correct. Then he, I and my group of guests proceeded to get the cattle driven through the trees over to their temporary home.

It was a great trip, a relatively calm and unseasonably warm evening—just perfect! We all got back to the arena by dusk and reveled in what a magnificent day it was!

On the last day of the clinic, we all had a big dinner—the first big dinner for the season! We were joined by our incoming roping and branding crew—longtime friends, Dave, Dylan and Ty.

Randy in a sea of cattle!

The next day, as our guests headed home, our ropers and ground crew were gearing up for a run to rope and brand 220 head of steers, averaging 750 lbs each! This type of roping is really fun, but Shayne describes it as “big boy” roping. These are strong animals, who are fast, not at all looking forward to being caught and certainly not “light.” They all require a head rope, hind feet caught, and a front foot caught (if only one hind is caught.). So basically, each steer takes at least 3 ropers initially, and our seasoned rope crew has just 7 members—in addition to our friends, it’s me, Shayne, Roby and Randy.

We rope in Shayne’s outdoor arena, which allows for the steers to travel full speed about 220 feet! At any given moment, there were 2 steers headed at a time. Sometimes, one steer would be on the ground getting branded, while 2 others were necked and traveling around the arena. You had to have your head on a swivel. We never stepped off our horses—just trotted or loped whenever needed to head, heel, set shots, bring in more cattle, catch front feet. We roped at a record pace and got through 220 steers in 3.5 days!

Des heeling on Tucker. They were heeling machines 🙂

Of course, this would not have been possible without our ground crew! Although our good friend, Trent, headed it up, nearly everyone on the ranch participated in setting ropes and branding the steers. The ground crew was smooth, fast and did not let a single steer get away from them! Impressive, to say the least!!!

Today was so strange…I spent it in meetings, doing office “stuff.” Mostly, sitting down-type stuff. I’ve grown so accustomed to this pace I’ve been on that I feel like I’ve already rested too much! It’s OK though—on Wednesday, Shayne and I are onto yet another adventure. We will be heading out to Seattle with our horses to work with the Mounted Police and their horses for 3 days. We will do some horsemanship in the arena, will ride with them downtown, and end the 3 days with a demo at the Unit. Shayne has been instrumental in the current success of the program and we are happy to share it with many of the good folks of Seattle!

Our staff is bearing down for the next few days to put the final touches on the ranch before our main season officially begins on May 12th. The ranch is looking like a pretty penny! The crew are getting a couple of well-deserved days off as well. These guys are an amazing group of people—hard working, great comrades and they are all in love with life and with this lifestyle at the ranch. I’m so grateful for them!

Till next time,


Moving cattle to their temporary pastures

Scott and his mom, Cathy got to ride out together!

Branding Ground crew! Scott, Ash, Brenda, Dave, Trent, Rachel McKenzie, Anna. Not shown, Sue, Adrienne, Janice.

Perseverance and breakthroughs at McGinnis Meadows Ranch

April 20, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 16

Hey Everyone,

Warmer weather this week has surfaced at the ranch along with more rain. The horses are starting to look sleeker day by day!

Harley and Carolyn

Harley came back to visit us this week. He is a very cool draft horse that belongs to long time returning guest, Carolyn. He is truly a gentle giant, so very sweet. He came to Carolyn with some trouble and she has been diligent about working through this with him. This week she got to watch Shayne ride him to correct an issue with his shoulder pushing in through the corners. When Carolyn got back on him, she was able to feel the difference – this can be so helpful when you can feel what it is like to ride a balanced horse.

There were many highlights this week for each guest, as well as a few struggles along the way. As happens so often, a greener rider made great strides throughout the week, while the riders with more experience and old habits had to work pretty hard to re-train themselves. It is interesting to see how people learn differently. Some are visual, some have to mimick another rider, and sometimes, figuring it out on their own after instruction, is what works. Sometimes there there are mental or physical road blocks, but most always, people are able to work through it.

Marisa was a great example of someone who struggled with being able to turn her body correctly through the week and on Friday she made a huge breakthrough. When Marisa’s body changed so did Cheech’s, her horse for the week!

Marisa and Cheech

When she stopped bringing her rein across his neck to the outside, in order to prevent him from pushing his shoulder in, Cheech’s flexion became correct and he stopped pushing in of his own accord.

Tom, Heidi and Vicki all had similar breakthroughs, with their seat positions and getting life in their horses. Everyone also got to experience riding in neck ropes and halters :-). It was a really great group this week.

The work that Dave and Scott have been doing at the shop, installing new cabinets and reorganizing, is complete. This will make it a great space to work in and easily find what they need. Guests visiting the ranch will also notice the new tile floor that is going under the tent. Will, Willy, Randy and Dave are working on the base for this and it is going to look spectacular when it is finished!

New tent base for tile flooring

Talk about organization- new shop cabinets!







Scott continues to jingle in the herd each morning. Now with the nicer weather and green grass starting to come up, they are not always so cooperative. There are a few holdouts (Chaos, Boone and Brownie, to name some), that are pretty good at hiding. Once they are spotted in the corrals, you can be pretty sure that the whole herd is accounted for!

Tom and Vicki helping each other call out the horses foot falls. Focus required…

We welcomed back Sue and previous intern Rachel, this week. Sue was out recovering from surgery on her hip over the winter and Rachel has returned help Miriam in the kitchen and do a part time internship. We’re thrilled to have them both back here for the upcoming season.

Speaking of the season, there are just a few spots remaining for the 2019 season. If you haven’t already checked out our new fall and 2020 schedule, you should! There are some new twists like a cow working clinic, women’s week and several eight-day clinics that have already garnered a lot of interest.

There are also just 3 spots remaining for the 2nd Buck week clinic here at the ranch, July 21-28th, 2019. If you are interested, contact Janice to see how you can secure your spot.

Happy Trails,


Tom did well on Jasper

Heidi rode Roanie and Chief for a different perspective. Her riding improved bunches!

“How soft can you be on the reins” demonstration with Shayne and Ashlyn

There sure are some pretty sunrises this time of year here at the ranch


The Pace is picking up at McGinnis Meadows!

April 13, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 15

Hey Everyone,

It seems as though the wheels of the ranch are really beginning to turn with the spring season!

For starters, Miriam, Willy and Sue came back to work after having the winter off.  I took the opportunity to sample Miriam’s fare and that woman has not missed a beat!  I think her food was better than ever!!!

A Pileated Woodpecker!

Willy hit the ground running…. Checking fence, working on our lodge driveway, flagging areas for new fence, fixing corrals…the list can go one and on!

Sue just came in today.  She’s going to be taking it easy on the riding side for a little bit, due to hip surgery over the winter, but there will be more than plenty for her to do when she’s not horseback.  We have lots of new fun gift shop items to go over, saddles to clean and pastures to de-limb.

One of our former interns, Ash, also joined our crew for a few months for a partial internship/partial work deal.  She’s doing lots of “fill-in” work until our peak season begins.  We are so happy to have her back!

Tom worked really hard on changing his seat this week

The weather has been veeeeeeerrrry wet.  The good part about that is that there are only a few patches of snow left on the ground.  There isn’t really a bad side—other than it’s very muddy, wet and dreary.  We are SO ready for sunshine!  The horses come in caked in mud and you can only hope that you can get most of it off of them before they dry off and you have to re-brush—because you will get completely covered in manure-y dust!  You just squint your eyes and close your lips real tight for a long as possible, turn away and take a deep breath then go again, haha.  The ponies don’t seem to mind the extra attention!

Last weekend we had Dr. Genovese and his tech’s out at the ranch to vaccinate the entire herd.  They love coming out here because the whole process is so uneventful!  We were able to get 110 head vaccinated and wormed in a 1/2 a day!  And that’s in addition to Dr. G working with us in getting several horses x-rayed, or utrasounded who were due for re-check-ups.

One of the really neat things we do at the ranch is x-ray any horse’s feet who our farriers feel might be a problem, or who they might have a quandary about.  You would be very surprised at how much different a horse’s bone structure can be from the shape of their foot!  Often, we can look at x-rays and our farriers can determine that they can take off quite a bit more hoof, or they learn that the horse has thin soles and needs extra support, etc.  It’s a fantastic learning tool and we have several horses on the ranch who have been x-rayed and had their shoeing adjusted which has helped them tremendously with balance and soundness!

In fact, we have a HUGE shoeing book, with notes and photos of every single horse on the ranch—what shoes to use, how to handle them on the ground, x-rays, history of injury, etc. 

Kenzie has a nice way with her horses and has been getting them really soft!

It’s extremely extensive but a testament to how much we care about the health of our herd and their comfort when it comes to their feet.

Anna and Scott have started the process of finally getting shoes on the horses again.  We keep most of them barefoot over the winter.  Now that the ice is finally gone, it’s a full time job to get the horses shod again so that we can start riding them out!  The two have been doing an awesome job and Shayne and I are so proud of them both!

This week we had just one guest, Tom, from Washington.  Because Shayne and I had quite a busy week with horses to ride and projects going on, we gave Janice the lead in the teaching.  It was a huge learning experience for her!  Shayne or I would assist as needed, and of course we taught Tom, Janice and our interns as well, but then would hand the reins back to Janice. 

Des practicing roping on client horse Romeo

She has a new appreciation for not only being able to teach, but to ride multiple horses and improve them during the whole process.  It’s harder than you think!  Janice got really smooth and helped to get Tom to an entirely new seat position.  We always wish we had before and after photos because he made such big changes!  We are looking forward to having Tom back at the ranch later this season—this next time with his big Friesian colt by his side.

Well, I’m signing off for bed.  If we get a break in the weather this weekend, a bike ride may be in order!

Till next time,


Hey, Can I come in?

We were blessed with seeing another rainbow over Shayne’s house!


April 6, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 14

Greetings Everyone,

We’ve got some exciting news about new programming here at MMR! 8-Day clinics, Women’s weeks, VIP weeks, and much more is what you’ll find later this fall and throughout the 2020 season! Read a synopsis about it further down in this edition of the Highline. There will also be more details on our website (, in our Ranch Ramblings newsletter and on Facebook!

Kathy and her horse Toby

This week, we had several repeat guests as well as first timers. Ryan, Lauren and Madi have all been here before. Lauren brought along her horse Charlie, a really cute bay roan, and this time Madi got to ride our guest horse Shadow. Shadow has recently been retired from ranch work and will be leaving on Saturday to start his new life with her. Both of them look like they couldn’t be happier!

Nikki also joined us, a longtime friend of Ryan and Lauren, and Kathy and her horse Toby visited too. Toby was a client horse a few years back and we are always so excited to see them both when they return to the ranch!

In horsemanship this week, we worked quite a bit on seat position and getting everyone to really have their horses working off of their legs. The neck ropes were brought out on Wednesday. In order to make exercises with a neck rope really effective the rider’s leg has to have meaning. The leg should create the flexion in the horse, not just the use of the hands. Once this is working well, then the horse can still be in correct flexion even with just a neck rope. To challenge everyone just a little bit more, we brought out the jolly balls!

Ryan rode Charlie for part of time as well.

Everyone got to pair up with another rider, and the goal was to bring the ball from one end of the arena to the other in the straightest line possible. To do this, you need the ability to center the horse directly behind the ball and be able to direct the left and right front leg independently. It takes some control with your legs to accomplish this, as you can imagine! Everyone did great and it even got to some friendly competition at times.

In other ranch news, Scott and Dave have been busy organizing the shop. They’ve gone through just about everything in there, tidied up and cleaned out anything not needed, and are currently installing brand new cabinets. We’ll get some before and after pictures as soon as the project is finished. J

Today will be a busy day here at the ranch. The vet is coming in to give the horses their spring shots! It will be all hands on deck to accomplish getting through all 100 head of horses, with quality.

Madi and Shadow! Here she is asking him for a soft feel before leaving to cross the arena.

We make sure not to rush the horse and that they are good with the process so that next time too will be a good deal for them.

Lauren and Booker. Lauren’s seat really improved this week!

As promised here is synopsis of special events for Fall 2019 and 2020 the season:

Women’s Week and an 8-day horsemanship clinic (Oct/Nov 2019 and Oct 2020)

Thanksgiving week (November 2019)

8-Day cow working clinic (May 2020)

8-Day horsemanship clinics- (Feb-Apr/Jul/Oct 2020)

Veterans, Active Duty and Law Enforcement Appreciation Week Guest week (Aug 2020)

VIP Weeks  (Jun/ Sept 2020)

Buck Brannaman Clinic Weeks (Jul 2020)

Please contact Janice for all of the fun details about any of these weeks as well as our regular guest weeks, at, or call (406) 293-5000.

Happy trails,


Nikki and Chief. She did a great job of riding him soft with just a neck rope.

Shayne and Cooley kicking the jolly ball with no hands!

First light at MMR

Oh, and did I mention that Madi taught Des, Shayne and me how to do the Floss??


Connecting the Horsemanship Dots at McGinnis Meadows

March 30, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 13

Greetings everyone,

This week there were no guests riding so Shayne and Des worked with the interns and staff each day. We got to work a lot on riding straight lines, riding to softness, walk – trot transitions and on Friday, cantering!

McKenzie riding straight lines on Jasper

I was fortunate to be able to ride 2-3 horses each day and this really lets you feel the differences in each horse. The really interesting part with the guest horses though, is that they may have a different feel, yet the issues that have developed in them are all very similar. We tend to create things in them that we then have to fix later. We focused a lot this week on not creating them in the first place, and feeling them in a more timely manner, so we can make corrections a lot earlier. When this happens, corrections can be a lot smaller and much more subtle. Shayne talked a lot about connecting the dots when you ride- looking ahead and riding far out ahead of you so you can stay ahead of your horse.  It was an analogy that really clicked with all of us.

The art of fine horsemanship requires so much mental focus (as in ride every step), and so much planning ahead that it can seem mind-boggling in the beginning. But, as each of the components becomes more automatic, riding can become more efficient and more fluid. I am thankful that I have such great teachers who never give up on me as I struggle sometimes to learn all of this!

Scott got to ride with us as well, and he rode his pretty pony Yellow Hair. Shayne thought he had things working pretty well with this horse and commented how ‘with him’ Yellow Hair was. It was fun to see.

Yellow Hair!

Casey and Tina, our stellar interns, finished up their last week with us. We will miss them! They were great students and they both made so much progress in their riding in such a short amount of time. We know they will both be back soon, and we look forward to it!

Out on the ranch, Scott, Anna and Dave did some more adjusting to the shoeing area, making it a bit more roomy. It looks great!

Brenda returned from vacation this week too, and we are all happy to have her back here. She wasted no time saying hello to her beloved herd and taking care of all of them.

It looks like winter is still hanging on just a little with expected temps not getting out of the 40’s next week. The snow is melting though and of course the tell tale sign that spring is approaching… the piles of horse hair on the ground after they get a good brushing!

Here is to a great week ahead.


Casey and Firestone

Scott feeding with Dave (driving)

Who, Me?

Des and Pard. He is so handsome!

Thank you to Rachel Niemela for the great photos!

Exciting news at McGinnis Meadows Ranch!

March 23, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 12


Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush. —Doug Larson

It’s WARM AGAIN!!!!!  I mean, we hit a new high this year of 54 today.  Compared with -35 a couple weeks ago, that is quite toasty and it feels oh-so-good!

We’ve actually been getting a little bit warm inside our indoor arena and rode this afternoon with the doors up.  We could have ridden outside if the ground was good.  Shayne was thinking ahead though, and he had our friend Chris Noble, (who owns an excavating business) use one of his big loaders to haul out truckloads of snow.  I mean…there was a mountain of it!

And…Shayne finally told me I can break this news to everyone who hasn’t heard about it…

We are in the process of building a BRAND NEW, state of the art, indoor arena riding facility!  The new arena/building is 130×250 feet!  It will have two incredible tack rooms, heated horse pens, custom sound system, custom overhead watering system, warm in winter, cool in summer, mirrors, top-notch footing—not to mention diagonals that would make any horseman or woman swoon ;). If you know Shayne, you know that he cut no corners on this one.

Shayne has been working out of our old indoor arena for 20 years!  He (and the rest of us) are ready for the upgrade.  As you can see from the pics, there is still plenty of work to be done, but we are well on our way.  The facility should be completed by early fall.  I can’t wait!

Of course, the new facility will require more horse pastures, lots of fencing, de-limbing, and some minor land clearing.  Our ranch hand crew is going to be pretty busy this year!

Ok…back to this week…

Bethany and Scotch

We had two guests this week.  Jade is still in high school but she has a passion for horses and convinced her parents to drop her off for the week.  Bethany is a doctor who lives in Kalispell, so we are hoping to start seeing her at the ranch more often now that she’s gotten her feet wet!  Both ladies truly gave it their best, even though they were challenged in new ways daily.

Our interns, Casey, Allie and Tina were superb.  It was a unique opportunity because all three of them started on the same date a few weeks ago and all learned the exact same things and had many of the same struggles.  All three of them have had major breakthroughs in their riding and in their own personal journeys.

We decided to have the interns help us to teach the guests, as well as our newest intern, McKenzie.  What was so fun to watch, was how they taught the same material that only a week or two prior, they might have struggled on.  Because of this, and because they learned how to apply the methods and succeed at the exercises, they had a really good feel as to how to teach it.  It was pretty amazing how far they had come in such a short time.  The guests couldn’t fathom that our interns had been dealing with the same challenges only a week or two prior.  That’s how quickly a person can get better when they work hard and have the right attitude in this horsemanship program!

Jade and Boone

Shayne thought that this was his best teaching week ever.  He’s certainly coming up with some great ways to teach the material in ways that maintains the integrity of the horses’ foundation—whether the rider on their back is green or advanced.  It’s all about ORCA—Observe. Remember. Compare. Adjust.

In other news, Dave has been keeping the ranch running smoothly behind the scenes.  He kindly scrapes away the slush each afternoon that can create some nasty, icy ruts on the lodge driveway in the morning!  He and Randy are always working together to make sure water is running, heaters are working and machinery is in it’s best working order.  Dave has really become an asset at the ranch and always goes above and beyond in learning new material and expanding his knowledge of material he already knows well.

Adrienne has been managing all of our deep cleaning this winter, and is getting the ranch prepared for the upcoming season.  She’s been a huge asset to Janice in the office as well!  She’s excited to take on some new roles of more “ranch hand” type work in addition to regular duties this season.  She’s can weld, drive a tractor and is pretty mechanically inclined.  Plus, she loves being outdoors.  But then…who doesn’t when you live out here?

Our newest intern McKenzie doing a great job of focusing with Chief.

Jenna has been keeping everyone’s bellies full of yummy food as well as hustling through getting saddles cleaned.  She’s also been an asset to Adrienne with the deep cleaning with any extra time she has.

Speaking of cooks…Miriam is excited to be coming back as our lead cook in April!  Between now and then, she’s going to be traveling the world surfing!  Is there anything this woman can’t do?

Anna and Scott are taking the weekend to attend a shoeing clinic hosted by our Vet Clinic in Kalispell.  Dr. Genovese is really excited to be working with these two, and we have the utmost confidence in their ability to maintain our herd.

Sue is finally going to be making her way back to the ranch next month.  She had an extensive hip surgery and spent the winter recovering in California with her family.  Good thing, because snow, ice and hip injuries just wouldn’t mix out here!  We are looking forward to her coming back home.

Last but not least, Janice and I will be going over our fall 2019 and full 2020 schedule this weekend!  We have some really exciting weeks and clinics coming up.  You’ll hear all about it soon!

Till next time,


Des ground working Cookie

Casey riding her horse Firestone

Close up of the new indoor arena!

Allie is finishing up her internship this weekend. She says she’ll be back!

Omar’s silhouette- He’s almost too tall to fit under the roll up door 🙂

McGinnis Meadows Ranch Welcomes the Spring

Well, it seemed like it would never happen…but the big Spring Thaw has arrived! When I mean big, I mean, the potentially biggest spring

                 Spring is almost in the air

thaw that Shayne and Randy say that they’ve seen in YEARS. For it to make more sense, you’d have to know that less than a week ago, the lows were still in the negative double digits. And we have had a LOT of snow this year…so…much…snow! Now, the temps are in the high 40s and hitting into the high 50s by mid-week! But, the ground underneath is still frozen. So where will the water go?

Dave is ready to dig trenches where needed. Snow has been pulled away from buildings. We have lots of big equipment on hand to help as needed. As for me…I might trade in my snow-shoes for my paddle board when traveling from the house to the arena in the mornings!

I know that it might be a sloppy mess here for a couple weeks, but I’ve got to say, these temps are sure good for the soul. I’ve never been so happy to see small patches of asphalt peeking through the snow-packed county road, or widening tree wells or especially, the sounds of birds singing again!

I’m also so happy about everything that we worked on in the arena this week. My head is still spinning from the amount of info, the feel it took to apply it and the changes seen in so many horses (and humans, too!)

We had a couple of guests reschedule, so this week riding it was just Shayne, me, Janice and our interns, Casey, Tina and Allie. All three interns had just come off of the advanced 10-day clinic and had a great foundation going already. Janice did not ride in the clinic, but she

                         Tina & Bob

was present for a large portion of it assisting in any way she could, and soaking up lots of knowledge. Because of this, Shayne and I were able to pick-up right where we left off in the 10-day. Rather than start from scratch, we told everyone to get to work doing what they had learned already.

These ladies are SUCH good students! They went straight to groundwork and covered all of their bases. In the riding, they revisited riding with a flag to help turn their bodies. We decided to ride with neck-ropes one day and they all did stellar.

I’m pretty sure Janice had her very best riding week EVER. Shayne and I were so happy with how she progressed on her horses. She discovered how much she could get done with her hips! Lots of people struggle to engage their hips properly when riding and to get their bodies loosened up so they can turn and not be stiff. Janice has struggled with this (as have I!) and this week we found the magic combo to help her find them a’horseback. As teachers, sometimes you have to think outside the box…the same as you would with horses. We are soooo happy for her and her progress!

We are also VERY happy with this current intern crew! These ladies have demonstrated a feel above and beyond what we’ve seen before. Each day, they come at the horses from their hearts. Although they are learning and could very easily get lost in the mechanical

                        Allie & Booker

aspect of this—they don’t. They have already learned the importance of patience, creativity and feel. And that at the end of the day, it’s what your horse thinks of YOU that matters the most. All of their horses improved by leaps and bounds this week.

And where would these horses be without the other people who work behind the scenes to keep them at their best? This week, with Anna on vacation, Scott has taken on the trimming/shoeing full time. I absolutely love it that he understands the value of teamwork and enlists the help of Brenda or even our interns in holding a horse who is a little unsure. Scott has a really nice, quiet way around the horses (and by the way, he’s an ambidextrous farrier)! He and Anna have really got these horse’s feet looking great.

And Brenda…where would we be without her keeping a constant eye on the herd? Rain, freezing cold or slush—she’s out there every day keeping tabs on her “babies.” On a given day she’s doctoring eyes, cuts, checking for rain rot, giving supplements, wrapping horses, noticing things that most people wouldn’t even see. Finding potential issues and fixing them before they become one. She is a true gem of a woman and the horses adore her.

Well, I’d better wrap this up! I need to make time to ride some ponies and go on a slushy snow-shoe with the pooch.

Till next time!



Des & Brownie


Hi from the gang


Casey & Levi


Just hanging out


Des & Angel


Feed time!


Horsemanship outside the box- McGinnis Meadows style!

March 7, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 10

Wow, this past couple weeks has been a nonstop, fun-filled horsemanship ride!

Rey finishes his internship tomorrow- he has come along way in just one month!

As I write this on Thursday evening, we have just finished up our very first 10-Day, Invitation-Only Horsemanship Clinic.  Guests are heading home tomorrow morning chock-full of knowledge, new tools, a new feel and lots of creative insights.

The day before the clinic started, we invited guests to come in early so that they could watch us ride all of the horses we would be using during the 10-day event.  We also rode through a couple of our personal horses, as well as a few ranch horses who are in our personal string to be re-ridden until they are really shiny again 🙂

Because we planned on starting the guests this week in halters, we rode all of their horses in halters for them to watch.  Although we only had one rein, we demonstrated the ability to do hind and front, walk, trot and canter on course, on a loose rein and maintain proper flexion.

This group, for lack of better words, would be our guinea pigs to an experiment Shayne was working on.  He wanted to see how well the horses we had ridden could be maintained, and even advanced with the guests based on the structure of how we taught, how slow we went and how refined the movements were.

Joy was really getting Max soft and balanced by the end of the day

We did quite a bit of groundwork in preparation for riding.  We covered SO MUCH STUFF in the groundwork!  The “standard” groundwork (i.e., hind, front, united circles).  We also worked on focusing on maintaining a larger bubble with the horses, going so far as to get all groundwork done at the very end of the lead rope.  Guests were able to reach all four feet and hang them in the air separately.  We did groundwork with flags, with tarps and with giant horse-sized soccer balls!  Guests watched demos on bridling tough horses, introducing horses to ropes, and really studying nuances of balance in footfall.

In our riding, we began with one-rein work.  Because it’s so tantalizingly tempting to grab for two-reins in a snaffle, (even when only attempting to work with one-rein), Shayne just eliminated the temptation to pull on two by just giving the guests one-rein—the halter and lead rope!  Of course we rode with them in the same fashion.  Guests learned how to maintain flexion while riding circles and straight lines.

Chief and Lauren working on a feel and getting a horse around different objects. BIG horse, Big jolly ball!

Then we gave them their snaffles and reins—with one caveat…. For the first day in the snaffle, they had to hold a flag with the shaft in in-between their reins.  In this way, they had to keep wide hands and learn how to avoid pulling.  They learned to ride serpentines, straight lines, get a soft feel, stop and back-up.  Because their hands were set wide, it forced the riders to really focus on turning their bodies when in circles, staying even on the straight lines and being more subtle in their seat position in forward-stop-back up transitions. 

From there, we took their flags away and they finally got to ride with reins “like normal.”  Except now, everything had a greater meaning.  There wasn’t mindless pulling and kicking because the refinement had been learned beforehand.  We spent some time working on getting the horses very soft at the standstill in lateral and longitudinal flexion, then incorporated it into contests in which guests divided into two groups and picked winners from each group on quality of soft feel with rate and straightness.  This continued into the last day, with trotting soft feels and walk/trot/canter transitions.

Carolyn and Brumby using the flag to find seat position

Somehow in all of this, we found time for a good ol’ match of horse soccer!  Guests also learned cow turns, learned about riding in “neutral” flexion, reaching feet and…I can go on and on.  Although I am talking about activities and movements, what we stressed all week was “feel with creativity.”  We talked about ways we would address different issues that were particular to the horse were were on.  We challenged the guests to watch their horses feet and expression in the groundwork and to really feel for their balance when horseback.  We challenged the guests to study their horse and their own movements in order to answer some of their own questions.  We challenged them to think outside the box in working with horses—always staying true to the foundation of what we are taught but realizing that there is more feel than mechanics involved when advancing in horsemanship knowledge.

In 10-days, a lot of changes can occur in a horse.  The guests also had a great opportunity to watch Shayne and I re-ride through a few guest horses who needed some TLC and fine tuning.  We also made a point to ride our personal horses at lunchtime and I rode through some client horses.  Each horse was at a different level and we spoke freely about what we were feeling and why we were working on certain movements at certain times.  I think that doing this was one of the most insightful learning experiences for the guests over the 10-day clinic.

Shayne working with bandit to develop a feel without the use of a halter

This group of guests were amazing—as were our four current interns!  Each person showed an intense love of learning, love of horses and love of this way of working with them.  After 10 full days, everyone was still giving 100% and wanting to glean more and more insight!  They always kept their horses in mind—even if something

How many things can you think of to expose your horse to?

got fast and maybe some things fell apart—they knew where to go to fix it up for the horse to keep them on the winning end of things.

I’m so thankful to have spent time with all of these guys.  I’m thankful that Shayne graciously allows and encourages me to teach alongside him and to take over the class at times.  I’m especially thankful for Janice’s help this week—she missed a LOT of time in the office helping us to get the day rolling, grab horses, manage the arena, help guests and take videos and pics.  We couldn’t have done it without her!  Of course, we also had lots of help from our team—Anna, Scott, Brenda and Jenna.

Speaking of staff, Jenna will be embarking on a new chapter in her life- she will be going back to help on her family’s ranch and will be taking lots of knowledge with her to continue her study of horsemanship. We’ve loved having her here and watching all the progress she has made with her horse Shadow! We wish her all the best. Jenna’s departure opens up a position for a continental breakfast cook/baker from May- October here at MMR. Baking skills preferred. Send anyone you know that might be interested to me (Des) at

Early in the clinic, temps dropped to -35!  By the last day, we were up to +40!  It seems that we are finally ringing in springtime!  Wish us luck…there’s a LOT, I mean a LOT, of snow that’s going to be melting these next few weeks!  In no time we may be working on kayaking and stand-up paddling in the meadows! 

Beautiful sunrise

That’s OK with me!  We are all ready for some warmth, sunshine, shedding ponies and green sprouts poking out through the snowmelt.

Have a great weekend everyone!


*P.S. If you have been a previous guest of ours and wish to focus on more intensive horsemanship, our next 10-day clinic from April 21st-May 2nd, 2019 still has a couple openings!  We would love for you to join us!

is it my turn? Des’ horse Tucker

What a great group of interns we have here. l to R: Rey, Allie, Tina and Casey