The Highline Blog
November 16, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 43
When I asked our guests who just participated in the MMR eight day horsemanship clinic what the highlight was for them, I heard after a moment of thought, “ Well, everything!” Each guest had the same answer, which was pretty cool to hear.
They worked really hard from day one to study a feel and what their horse was thinking. It was probably one of the best sessions in terms of study, that I have been witness to since I have been at the ranch.
Staff and interns were able to take time out from our normal daily activities to ride with Shayne, Des and the guests and it was awesome! Speaking for myself, I learned more these past two weeks, or I should say I absorbed more, than I have in a long time. There has been a lot of discussion about what it takes to make a change. The first thing to realize is that the change has to be made within ourselves, before we ever can think about changing our horses. THIS is the hard part! Once you find a way to do that, everything else begins to fall into place.
Guests had a lot of fun working on getting their horses balanced, and moving them out. Tina gained a ton of confidence while cantering. This has been a personal goal for her and by the end of the clinic, she was cantering all over the arena and bringing Booker back to the trot and walk in a soft feel.
Ann rode her mare Brandy and Shayne couldn’t say enough about how far they have come together. Brandy was a challenge in her earlier years but you would never know it watching the two of them go through progressions, walk, trot, canter transitions, and the 180 exercise. Brandy was so relaxed during the demo’s that Ann had to keep walking her around so she didn’t doze off!
Norbert has been coming to the ranch for years, but something in his riding changed this time. He was riding much more relaxed and really waiting on his horses to turn loose to him. Same for Ray…Ray has his young colt Dusty here in training, but he wanted to ride a ranch horse so he could feel what things should be like on a more advanced snaffle bit horse. He rode both Catman and Jasper in away that they were reaching for him and feeling of him and it was very cool to see the evolution in his riding.
Lynn G. joined us again and she got to work more on her progressions leading up to the canter, and then cantering diagonals, straight lines and circles. Lynn has made a ton progress in her riding over the past year, and this eight day clinic really solidified several aspects. She and Norbert must have had fun riding because they are both staying to ride with us next week :-).
Shayne and Des really did a great job of coaching all of us through any trouble spots we were having and also to work on things that would bring us each to the next level. This eight day clinic came right on the heels of Buck’s Whitefish clinic and I have to think that they were a little worn from being on the go—but you’d never know it because their focus level just doesn’t change. This is perhaps the best lesson to be learned. Caleb, our newest intern, demonstrated that he can focus quite well. After only eight days of riding with us, his seat changed dramatically and his horses were moving out and looking happy.
We also welcomed back Roby this week after his stint on the road with Buck and he will be here until the ranch goes on ‘vacation’ for the months of December and January. There are still spots open for winter horsemanship in 2020- we will reopen Feb 16th and the program runs through Mid April. If you are serious about improving not only your riding, but the understanding behind what your horse is thinking, you’ll want to check it out.
November 9, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 42
This past week at MMR was a whirlwind!
Buck returned to Whitefish, MT to teach his Horsemanship 2 and Cow working/roping classes at Standing Heart Ranch. This is a special invitational clinic sponsored by Shayne and Dave Gamble, and one of the most advanced in the country that Buck does. I was able to attend to audit along with our intern Maddie. What a treat! There is always so much to observe and learn watching Buck ride Eddie and his green colt Manny. Shayne, Des and Roby all represented MMR in the clinic and it was equally fun watching them.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s clinic which will be held in July, following our ranch clinics. If this is something you would be interested in seeing stay tuned for more info or contact me at Janice@mmgranch.net
We arrived back to the ranch on Thursday just in time to welcome our new guests coming in for the 8 day horsemanship clinic! We have 8 guests and interns participating, plus our wranglers and so far it has been amazing. Shayne has everyone really bearing down on the progressions to take a horse through each day, and being sure to move up through the checklist to test things out. Moving back down the list is equally important if there are spots that need to be worked on.
The study never gets any less. The better the rider’s timing and feel get, the crisper the movements become. For me, this doesn’t come easy but each day I work on studying the horse’s feet, my body position and how soft I can pick up on them each time. My brain hurts by the end of the day but in a good way…and the horses really like it!
The rest of the ranch continues to operate in winter prep mode. We welcomed in our new ranch hand Jon last week and he has already been a big help. We also welcomed Caleb, who is from Libby and will be interning with us through the month of November. In just two days his riding has already improved significantly, and he is very focused student.
Winter horsemanship here at the ranch is really quite special. There are a few spots remaining in Feb- April, so if you want to get a jump on your spring riding, or are curious to see what it is all about, give us a call or email us at email@example.com and we will be happy to tell you all about it!
Have a great week ahead,
November 2, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 41
We are starting to feel the change in the season here at the ranch. Yes, it has been cold and you know that winter is coming, but even more so, the vibe that the ranch takes on this time of year is very special in its own way. The quietness, more relaxed pace and an intensive focus on raising our riding abilities seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Staff has really been focused on taking advantage of the clear weather to finish cleaning up the pastures, tend to the remaining burn piles, vehicle winterizing and everything else that goes along with preparation for whatever Mother Nature will bring us.
The horses are getting fuzzier each day it seems- already I have to do a double take with some of them as their colors change with the addition of their newly grown hair.
Many of them have had their front shoes pulled and soon their hinds will be barefoot and too. They are not the only ones getting ready- Trouble, Lily and Sophie our well loved ranch kitties, are fluffing up quite a bit as too. They welcome the attention this time of year and as always Trouble is quick on
the draw when he sees a guest with an open door to their cabin- or the lodge for that matter!
We had Nancy and Jodi here with us this week as first timers learning this style of horsemanship. Nancy has been riding much of her life with quite a bit of experience in dressage and English riding. Jodi is new to having horses in her life and came to the ranch excited to learn as much as she could. Both could not have been better students. I had the opportunity to work with them a lot this week in horsemanship and boy was it fun! The difference in ability level, actually fueled the learning curve and it was a very productive week. We often say that beginners learn quite fast because they have no bad habits. It sure seems to be true and Jodi was no exception. She studied hard, and her seat improved dramatically over the course of the week. She even cantered on Mighty and Bob before the week was out! Nancy worked equally as hard to make some shifts in her seat position and how she used her body while riding. She got along famously with Booker all week and had him really looking soft and willing. Nancy liked this style of riding so much that she has already made plans to visit us again on Thanksgiving and several times next year. We can’t wait to see her again!
Shayne and Des are packing up as I write this to leave for Whitefish for Buck’s final US clinic of the season. It is the most advanced clinic he holds and always a great one to audit. We’ll also get to see Roby again- he has been on the road with Buck and of course will be at this clinic as well. Maddie and I are beyond excited to be able to audit the clinic and we’ll be sure to give everyone a full report upon our return 🙂
Just a reminder, we still have some space available for the winter horsemanship program in Feb- April. Give us a call if you want to join us for a memorable learning experience. 406-293-5000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
October 26, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 41
What a monumental week we have had at McGinnis Meadows 🙂
Foremostly, our herd of steers left the ranch on Wednesday. With great circumstance and celebration the entirety of the herd were brought up to the corrals for a final time in the scales. Once through the scales, they were all inspected by our brand inspector and prepared to be shuttled onto the truck. After watching over these boys and working with them all summer long it was a bit of a sad moment to see them all packed up and moving away.
However, there is consolation in the knowledge that these steers had the best life they could have possibly had. For a whole season they were given freedom to roam over our many mountains and meadows surrounding the ranch. We had a great season with them and are happy to report that all 218 head completed the season healthy and sound.
Following the departure of our steers, all of the staff around here had a bit of celebration after work. The activity: pumpkin carving! Anna and Ash invited everyone over to carve pumpkins at their house. Afterward we watched a movie. In the midst of our busy days it gave us all a good time and some fun laughs.
For the rest of the week it is all hands on deck as we prepare the ranch for the winter transition. Anna, Ash, Kevin, Scott, Brenda, and Maddie are all working very hard to prepare the winter pasture. They are going through and delimbing a lot of trees and clearing away the brush to ensure that when the horses go in that pasture for the winter time they will be safe. Other projects around the ranch include closing down the saddling barn and taking down our big white tent.
Up in the office this week, Janice and I have the great opportunity to work with our accountant, Nancy. She is visiting for the week and has been exceedingly helpful in streamlining some of our policies and procedures to make everyone’s stay the best it can be.
As we are moving further into winter horsemanship, a lot of the horses are being changed from a full set of shoes to a half set. They will have front shoes until a bit later in the year when many of them will go barefoot. Anna and Scott, our farrier extraordinaires, could not be more delighted. After keeping our herd well shod and sound all season they will get a bit of a break.
I am going to take a moment for a little bit of staff recognition. Anna-Bananna is a very dear friend to everyone here at the ranch. She is the hardest worker you will find and is exceedingly dedicated to the excellence of her trade. In a very real sense she binds us all together; her generosity, thoughtfulness, and aptitude for laughter make her priceless.
Well, everyone, next week we’ll be back to a bit more horsemanship as we dive into our winter program! Yayayaya! Stay tuned for the tid bits of wisdom that will inevitably follow as we soak in all that Shayne and Des are teaching.
October 19, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 40
This week we had a mix of fantastic horsemanship combined with lots of cattle work. We had a small but very fun group with five returning guests and one first timer.
Michele came to us from the east coast and stated that she was a beginner rider. Well, she really dived into this horsemanship and she made so many improvements this week. Carolyn and David returned and continued to focus on improving their riding skills. Carolyn in particular, made great progress towards gaining confidence horseback.
Lorie and her sweet mare Tilly joined us again as well. Lorie has done a fabulous job with Tilly starting her several years ago. We always love to see their progress each time they return. Carol also joined us again after a visit last summer- she got to ride her fav, Chief again! Each of them were such good students, not to mention loads of fun!
I was lucky enough to be able to teach several horsemanship classes this week, one of my favorite things to do here at MMR. I’ve learned so much from Shayne, Des and Roby about progressions and teaching effectively. It is really rewarding to help folks see the possibilities not only within themselves, but within the horses too.
We covered a lot of ground (in more ways than one!), and worked our way through lots of walk, trot, walk, stop transitions working from their seat, cow turns, backing, soft feel and balancing exercises. The highlight is always the Calvary exercise! Here you need to think on the fly while maintaining proper balance and position in horse and rider. Riding to music during this exercise is an added bonus!
You know for sure the seasons are changing when we are getting focused on sending off the cattle. Next Wednesday we will say goodbye, and in the meantime they are contentedly munching on lots of quality hay and mineral. Like the horses, they also provide us with many learning opportunities. Driving and sorting cattle at MMR is all about keeping stress on them to a minimum. It requires using your mind more than your physical strength’s. Knowing where to position your horse, how little pressure to put on the steers and when you need to step it up—without getting steers bothered. I’ve learned a lot this season and look forward to sharing this info with all of our future guests!
Kevin, Scott and Anna have been managing many of the ranch hand duties, delimbing the new pastures, getting vehicles winterized, and general maintenance. Willy has been working his magic with the excavator, scraping clean all the holding pens, and the driveway now has a new layer of dirt to smooth it out.
In a few weeks the herd will return to the winter pasture but for now they are still in the North piece eating all of the hay that was left uncut! There’s been so many colors this week, from trees to rainbows and sunsets and sunrises!
Our staff responsibilities all change a bit this time of year. It give us a chance to become more well rounded with ranch and general work. You can never have too many skill sets!
Michelle has been heading up our housekeeping this season and will be leaving us tomorrow. We are happy to report that she will return next season. It is wonderful to have her around and we are looking forward to seeing her back here. She intends to spend a lot of quality time with her family back in NY during her time at home. Ahna and Ash will be helping in housekeeping until we close in December, so be sure to thank them when you see them.
We’ll also be missing Des riding the next couple of weeks as she just had surgery yesterday and will need to take just a couple of weeks off of riding- nothing serious thankfully, but she will need to rest for bit. Knowing Des and how active she is, we suspect Shayne will have his hands full keeping her in check :-). We are looking forward to seeing her back in the saddle and send good thoughts her way to wish her a speedy recovery.
It won’t be long now before Anna Banana and Scott start pulling shoes off of the horses in preparation for the snow to come 🙂 (Yes, I am looking forward to xc skiing and if our winter guests want to bring some gear with them I am always up for teaching a lesson or two!) As you can imagine, life at the ranch this time of year seems to be just as busy as our peak summer season, and we love it!
Lastly, but not least- we wish Roby BEST of LUCK roping at the Pro-Am!
We look forward to seeing those of you who have signed up for a winter session. If you haven’t yet, I highly encourage you to think about it. There is nothing else like it for digging deep into this style of horsemanship.
October 13, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 39
What a week we have had here at the ranch! Productive? No doubt about it. Exhausting? Perhaps. Absolutely fantastic? You better believe it!
This week was chalked full of old friends with whom it is wonderful to reminisce and get to know better as well as new friends that offered such great variety and joy to our week. We got to welcome back Trent and Julie as well as Kathleen and Brian who are not strangers to the happenings on the ranch. In addition, Amy and Scott were able to stay for another week! All of these wonderful people are no longer guests but are considered members of our little family here at McGinnis Meadows.
We also got to welcome a great group from China! They were delightful. And they did everything- a lot of horsemanship, cattle drives, trail rides, groundwork, and roping! While it is always challenging when there is a difference in language between groups of people, we all got along very well and had a great time. We are sincerely hoping that they will come back for another visit.
This week was the last week of our fall gather as we tracked down and moved all of the steers back down the mountain and to the Belgarde pasture. At the top of the week we had 11 steers left on Davis Mountain. The week got off to a great start as seven steers were found on Monday and moved to the Belgarde. Only four lonely little fellas remained. Keep in mind that Davis Mountain is approximately 7000 acres so finding these boys could prove difficult. Our teams set out regardless with high hopes and expectations of success. We searched on Tuesday and found nothing. We searched on Wednesday and found nothing. Thursday was going to be our day! Kathleen came up with our mantra for the day “4 before 12” which meant we would find the four last steers before 12:00 because it was so bitterly cold that everyone was just a bit anxious to be back cozy in front of a fireplace. Well, on Thursday we found nothing. But we were yet determined! After setting out of Friday there was great rejoicing over the face of the mountain when Roby called over his radio that he had found the steers everyone was looking for. His call came through at 12:35. It was decided that we could still hold fast to our motto from the day before- even though it was technically 24 hours past its expiration date.
With the finale of this week comes the ending of many things here at McGinnis Meadows. Our fall gather is over as all of our steers are now off of the mountain. Our peak season is over as it gives way to fall and winter horsemanship. And finally, many of our people are moving away. This past week we have said goodbye to Alyssa, Emily, and Yaz. Tomorrow we are saying goodbye to Rachel and Michelle is leaving next week. However, for all of these lovely ladies there is a joy in knowing they will be returning in the spring. But for one very dear individual it is a bit of a longer farewell. Sue is moving away. She is going back to California to start a beautiful life with her husband, and, of course, she is taking her horse Rowdy with her. To know Sue is to love her. She will be dearly missed by everyone back here at the ranch and as she is going away she takes with her the promise that she is always welcome back home.
With that, I will bring this highline to a close. Next week will bring many great lessons in horsemanship- we’re diving deeper into our horsemanship program as we head towards winter!
October 5, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 38
Well Howdy Folks,
Our fall gather has continued to be a great time of learning and growth.
At the top of this week we got a taste of the coming winter as the ranch was covered with a blanket of snow. Everywhere you looked was just completely covered with snow leaving the entire ranch looking clean and quiet.
Starting on Monday, while the snow persisted, everyone huddled in Shayne’s newly built indoor arena for horsemanship. Everyone that rode this week improved exponentially through their time in the arena and then were able to apply their skill while riding out and moving cattle.
Carl and Wayne stayed with us for another week and we got to welcome back our wonderful friends Amy, Scott, and Chad. In addition, we got to ride with some other great guests! Jack and Verena came from Tennessee and were the biggest help moving cattle. In addition, Curtis, Larry, Deb, and the Mahaffey family were all great! They learned so much and helped us to move so many steers. Finally, we cannot forget Barb and Diane; Barb knows Shayne from Buck clinics many years ago and brought Diane along with her for a visit to the ranch.
This week at Graze we continued to gather our herd of steers off of Davis mountain and bring them back to the ranch. We would gather them from Davis mountain and put them in the Elk Creek pasture overnight. The next day a group would bring them all the way from Elk Creek back to the ranch to be weighed and then brought to the Belgarde pasture where they are currently residing where they have plenty of tall grass to munch.
Friday was the grand finale to our week. Here’s what happened: we weighed and reweighed all the steers. We all quickly learned that when Roby says, “Lets take ‘em all.” He means that we will be taking them all, weighing them all, and returning them all safely before the day is through. Long day! But of course, it was a good day 🙂
At the time we had 147 steers in the Belgarde pasture, 25 steers on their way back to the ranch from Elk Creek, and 6 head in a pasture behind Shayne’s arena. Everything needed to be weighed. First, we brought the six head from Shayne’s over to the scale and then scooted over to the Belgarde to bring in the bulk of the herd. We brought them into the middle pasture in front of the lodge and would cut off groups of 20-30 head to be brought up to the scales at one time. As one team brought the steers up to the scale, another team would be ready to take the freshly weighed steers back to their pasture. It was a huge production! But we did it all! It’s safe to say that everyone earned their dessert that night!
At this point we only have a few steers left on Davis Mountain. Only 18! The hunt will continue next week as we try to get those last stragglers back home. Hopefully they won’t be too much trouble to find- however, in a mountain pasture that covers approximately 7000 acres, there are quite a few places that they could hide! But that’s just what makes it all the more rewarding when we find them.
Well, I suppose that’s all I’ve got for this week. Hope everyone has a safe and happy start to their October!
September 28, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 37
Another week at McGinnis Meadows in the books. A good week. A productive week. And a fun one to boot.
This time around we continued to gather our herd of steers off of Davis Mountain and take them to the Belgarde pasture. For those of you that have not yet had the experience of driving cattle across our many mountains and pastures there is really nothing like it; exciting when you think of how far you’ve come with the steers and how far there is to go. A little bit of pressure is taken off with every piece of land you get through successfully. It is also admittedly frustrating at times when the steers start to stray from the path they’re meant to take. But goodness, what a rewarding experience to have moved so many steers so far at the end of the day.
Perhaps one of the best feelings at the end of the day, as well, is to come in to find a delicious hot meal prepared and waiting for you to enjoy. We are so blessed to have a great and conscientious kitchen staff that pour themselves into making each meal wonderful.
This week we got to welcome back a number of friends as well as some new faces. The Greenwoods and the Mackeys found their way back here for some cattle fun. Arnold came back, too, and brought along his wife Sabrina and friends Evan and Jessica. And then we got to see such wonderful friends as Wayne, Bob, Carl, and Ray. First time guests, Angelo and Laura came all the way from Italy to ride with us- the two of them as well as Ray spent the week in horsemanship with Shayne and Des and did absolutely wonderfully! Their dedication is truly appreciated and we hope they come back soon!
To be honest, the week went by far too quickly! On Friday a group of us went out to sort the cattle that we had holding in the Belgarde pasture. Roby went out there and led the charge. Sue and I both were armed with sheets of paper that listed the ear tag numbers of all the steers that we had already weighed. The goal of the morning was to gather out a sample for reweighing and then to gather out a specific 19 head that had yet to be weighed. It was a lot of fun! Especially with Roby there to show us the ropes. And once we got those steers we took them straight to the scales- some of those hefty boys clocked in close to 1000 pounds!
For a word of horsemanship wisdom, please enjoy some words from Des:
“Last year I started Buzz and Chupa, two of Shayne’s personal horses and the last pure colts on the ranch. I prepared them to the max, and Shayne and I had a goal that neither horse would ever see trouble from horseback. The colt starting then, as you can imagine, would have been pretty boring to watch 😉
As things go, I got super busy and after last fall I was not able to ride them again until this month. I wondered how much of their short education from a year ago would carry. The short answer is, all of it!
It’s been such a pleasure the past couple of weeks to get on these horses and pick up where I left off last year. Both of them are very different, but so much fun. This week, I was able to get both Buzz and Chupa on the cutting machine for the first time, and I was able to ride out on Buzz to gather cattle and he worked his first steers! He LOVES cattle…or he just loves to push them around!
Roby has also been able to start camping on some youngsters. He started a colt named Monty last year, and another named Leroy. Both of them also picked up right where they left off and Leroy is nearly ready to start heading out to graze!”
Well folks, that’s all we’ve got for now. The week has come to an end and the snow has started to fall. Coming from a girl who has longed for a true winter for the past 10 years living in southern Virginia, it is a great excitement. Although it may not stay long, this brief winter wonderland is a glimpse into what the coming seasons
could bring- and it is beautiful.
Mid-way through September, we are really getting into the swing of our fall gather! Slowly but surely we are moving groups of steers from Davis mountain to Elk Creek Pasture, and then on home to the Belgarde pasture. It’s a long drive- but so much fun!
We even had the opportunity this week to weigh a number of the steers to get an idea of how much they have gained over the course of the summer season. One of our heftiest of steers clocked in at close to 1,050 pounds! All of the guests really enjoyed getting the chance to practice their sorting as we cut off groups of five steers at a time to be taken to the scale. Once in the scale corral, one at a time the steers had to be sorted off to be weighed. So. Much. Fun.
So many familiar and dear friends have come back to ride with us this week- Karen, Laurie, and Dottie come every year to help gather our steers. This year, Dottie brought along Julia who has proved a great help moving cattle. She also has a natural skill for the cutting machine. Kim and Neville Yates brought their personal horses to join in the festivities. They specifically asked to be challenged on their rides- so we made them ride with Scott. Just kidding! Scott is a great teacher and they had an absolutely wonderful time riding with him up and down Davis Mountain moving steers.
This week was also particularly fun because many of our guests came together as a large group! Coming from various corners of the world, from Texas to the Netherlands, this group of friends has made our week so much brighter with their laughter and jokes.
The weather is quickly cooling off around here and starting to feel like autumn. I could not be more excited! Loving every moment is an understatement. And it will only get better from here! Before closing this edition of the Highline, enjoy this quote from the beloved neighbor, Mr. Rogers:
“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
Although this may seem like an obvious statement, it is important for us all to remember as we transition out of the summer and into the earlier nights and colder mornings of fall time and winter. This is not only a change, but an opportunity. I know I can speak for the rest of the McGinnis Meadows staff that we will continue to strive forward in our horsemanship and our work. We hope the same for you! And if you’re interested in coming our for our fall or winter horsemanship programs, please do not hesitate to reach out to us- we would be delighted to share this season with you at McGinnis Meadows.
Well, friends, that’s all for now.
September 14, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 35
We have been very busy this week! As part of this ‘off week’ we have had the chance to catch up on a lot of projects around the ranch!
One of the major projects to be completed is cutting wood! Many of our staff cabins around the ranch have wood burning furnaces; in order for us to stay warm and cozy all winter long, time must be taken now to chop up all of the wood that we will need come the long winter months. Kevin, Anna, Scott, and Rachel have all been working hard to get the wood all cut and stacked around the cabins. Their work is very much appreciated.
In regard to other winter preparations, Ash, Alyssa, and I have all been helping Brenda prepare the gardens for the coming cold. We have been pruning down a lot of plants that have lost their summer luster and color so that they do not freeze. Also, we have spread a palate of mulch to help insulate the ground and add a clean finish to the garden. The upkeep of this beautiful place is a labor of love.
Perhaps our most interested project this week? An obstacle course! Roby has designed an obstacle course in one of our outdoor pens where horses can come in contact with large tires, moving objects, ground tarps, and oversized soccer balls! It is going to be something really cool when it’s all completed. I was told a teeter-totter might also be added to what is quickly becoming our mini McGinnis circus ring. I can only imagine how confident and brave the horses that are able to work through all of those obstacles are going to become! Kevin has been helping to construct the course quite a bit and even took Kate, his dog, through the course! She approves
Well, its time for another highline highlight! Our staff are some very special people and deserve a bit of recognition once in a while. Our highlighted staff member this week is: Alyssa! She is a part-time intern and part-time server as a member of our kitchen crew. Her riding has improved exponentially since she got here and even when she’s not riding she is game to be a big help to others. For example, she was unable to ride for a couple of days this week because of a minor injury so instead has volunteered to help us in the garden as we prepare for winter! What a gal. We’re grateful for her 🙂
That’s all for now, folks. Next week we’ll be back to our usual rough-riding routine with plenty of guests to join in the festivities!