The Highline Blog

April arrives dressed in white

April 4, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 14

Who would have thought we’d get more snow now than we had almost all winter!

Early morning sunrise

While we are eager for green grass and warm temps, it sure is pretty here. The birds are singing each morning so spring can’t be too far off.

It is quiet at the ranch without guests but we are making the most of the time by riding a lot, catching up on projects, and creating new ones!

We now have a new set of stadium seats for guests wanting to watch lunchtime rides, and as I write this the crew is setting up a trailer at the new arena which will house gear, feed, and brand new shelves for stashing our lunches each day.

stadium seating 🙂

Staff has been fortunate to be riding with Shayne and Des most days and we are all learning a lot. The 6 new horses that came in from Lazy U are getting ready for the guest string and have been rotating through staff each day. It is pretty cool to see what each person puts into a horse and how we can all help each other improve. These horses are all so sweet and very fun to ride!

Some of the things Shayne has us working on include walk, trot and cantering over logs in preparation for lead changes; getting our horses really straight (up and down in the shoulders and withers), practicing our roping, and working through our individual trouble spots as we ride. Each day he will ask us what are the two or three things we need to be thinking about. These are different for each of us

The elk are still here, including 3 large bulls

and a good reminder of what we need to be focusing on every second!

Shayne and Des have also been working with their new colt Lefty. She is preparing him with a bit more groundwork and then Shayne works with him from horseback. He is making great progress under their guidance.

That is about it for now. We hope that you are all staying safe and healthy, and we can’t wait to see you again soon.


Happy Trails,


Shayne working with Lefty

One of the wonders from our kitchen, courtesy of Emily

Des, showing us some roping tips

Kate secretly wants to drive the army truck

Parting shot

8 day horsemanship clinic

March 29, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 13

Following the completion of our 8-day clinic (which ended on Tuesday) everyone was still working hard to finish the week strong and work hard. However, by the end of this week we were all ready for a blessed rest.

Scott and Yellowhair- Scott gets upset when we call him Old Yeller

As the corona virus continues to loom over the nation, we are so very thankful for the bit of peace that we have in knowing that we are tucked away among the mountains; although, this does not go without taking necessary precautions. Having restricted our trips to town we are doing our very best to avoid sickness and contact with the outside world. To that end, our dear Anna is no longer able to do our town runs! Thank God for FedEx and UPS!

Anna on Trump and Scott on Yellowhair practicing with the roping dummy

While we are shut up here at the ranch, let no one be worried for us- there is still plenty of work to do. Boredom is never an issue 🙂 This week we’ve been practicing our roping from horseback. The other afternoon, Des got her rope on one of the roping dummies and was dragging it around the arena for all of us to try to heel and head as she rode by. It was so much fun! Shayne also gave us plenty of tutorials on the proper technique and angles to rope from- all vital components to a successful loop and catch.

Emily’s newest masterpiece

Since that day, we have been getting down our ropes every morning and afternoon! It’s been a blast! One evening after all the chores were done we met back around the roping dummies on foot to continue our technique practice. Shayne and Des showed us tips for getting our loops stronger and more consistent. Shayne even showed us a trick shot that he said everyone had to get before going to dinner! I’ll just say that we were pretty hungry by the end of the session.

Quite a few of us (though mostly Emily and Anna) have been diving into the world of macate making! They are already quite accomplished- the beauty and quality of their work is a sight to see. Be sure to let them know if you’re looking for a new set! They would be happy to help you out!

Kevin and King

Roby has also found his way back to the ranch after a winter of travel. Its nice to have his goofy self around again; he is also hard at work in the Kit arena riding our ranch horses to prepare them for the season.

Its nice to be stuck in one place with people that mean so much to you; the other night after dinner everyone was reluctant to leave the table and we all sat around telling and retelling stories, reminiscing about the past seasons and the memories we have all had together. What a good family we have all found in each other.

That’s I’ve got for ya this week. Next week is bound to bring more adventures so stay tuned.

Be safe,


Des and Tucker on the cutting flag

Anna and Trump

No better view

This Too Shall Pass

March 23, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 12

It seems like everywhere one looks, there are people talking about and feeling the effects of this COVID-19 virus.  Our hearts go out to individuals who are sick, families who are locked in quarantine with no means to work, those who are elderly and immune-compromised and at risk. In this tough time, we can only hope and pray that “this too shall pass,” and in short order.

At the ranch, we are taking the utmost precautions in the safety of our staff and our guests!

Des working with Angel

At the ranch, life goes on.  I guess being in a quarantine isn’t much different than a normal day on the ranch in our little corner of the world!  We are riding each day, getting outside for walks and hikes (the weather has been quite warm and sunny for March) and just carrying on with our normal schedules.

Eager students

We are currently coming towards the tail-end of an 8-day clinic.  As always, these clinics prove to get our riders to levels of horsemanship they hadn’t thought possible before!  Our guests have been doing lots of riding with legs only, learning the refinement of the soft feel, cutting hard on the cutting flag and watching some colt demos.  And much, much more.  The changes in seat position, life in the horses and focus compels us to continue on in this journey of teaching.

This week we also had a very special treat!  Former McGinnis Meadows employee and well-known clinician Ricky Quinn joined us for a couple days!  Ricky manages the Lazy U ranch in Nebraska and he brought us 6 head of well-bred horses, who will one day become new Guest Horses!

Ricky teaching Anna, Scott, and Randy

In addition, he worked with Anna and Scott on shoeing some of the ranch horses.  This was a continuation of the clinic Anna and Scott attended in Nebraska earlier this winter with Tommy Kilgore.  This is an adapted version of shoeing a horse that truly incorporates a feel for the horse’s natural abilities.  Shayne and I rode several horses who had been shod and there was an immediate difference in how comfortable and freely they moved! We are very grateful that Ricky has such a heart for our ranch horses that he wanted to continue to help us to explore their utmost potential in the shoeing.  We’ll see him again in 6-weeks for another tune-up!

Anna can explain this in better detail.  Here’s what she had to say:

This weekend was an amazing opportunity to get another chance to practice what we learned in Nebraska.  We got to train our eyes to see what the horse is telling us it needs.  For example, a horse with contracted heels needs support on his heels to help carry his body weight appropriately for his conformation.  Opening his heels and giving him a larger perimeter to support his body would ease pain!

Grace and Ray

With Ricky’s help, we spent a lot of time on our hard cases, finding patterns we—the human—have put into our horses. Each year of horseshoeing is so different!  I am excited to help these horses carry themselves more confidently!

And that’s a wrap!

Stay safe out there and please contact Janice at info@mmgranch.netor feel free to give us a call at 406-293-5000 for any questions regarding a current or future reservation.


The cutting flag…

March 14, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 11

Hi all, it’s Kevin here again.

The ponies!

We’ve just wrapped up our third week of our winter horsemanship program. We had a smaller group, which means we were able to give lots of one on one attention. We started the week off with some beautiful almost spring like weather, but by Friday afternoon we had howling winds and freezing temps. Maybe this will be the last cold snap!!! I’m ready for some warmer weather even though I enjoyed winter very much.

With this group of guests we were able to get them, along with several ranch horses, prepped on the cutting flag. The past few weeks we haven’t used it as much do to the fact we were working on other things and had much larger groups. But our guests Wendy, Shayne R., and Joy did fantastic and got lots of ‘go time’ on it, as well as all the wranglers.

The cutting flag is truly an amazing teaching tool plus it’s one of the most fun things you can do on a horse. It

Scott and Chalkeye on the cutting flag

only takes a couple of turns and you’re hooked! The crew and I got a lot of horses on the flag leading up to the start of the winter horsemanship season, and some of these horses are really starting to get good.

Allowing the guests to have a blast cutting is one of Shayne’s big goals for the horsemanship sessions this year. We were happy to see that our work is paying off, only making us want to improve and refine it even more. This involves making clean stops; getting our horses to reach and turn on their own without help so the guests can feel when one is really hooked on; as well as a press off or leg yield to set up your next turn. When all for pieces of the dance come together with the flag or cow it is a great feeling and hopefully on your next stay at the ranch you will have a chance to experience it.

Shayne’s R.’s first week of riding lessons. She did great!


In other exciting news on the ranch, we had new arrivals this week- Des’ new colts, Lefty and Nicz arrived and are the cutest! Brenda also returned from a well deserved vacation and we are happy to have her back J.

That’s all the news for this week. Until next time,


Tucker never misses a chance for a nap 🙂

Joy riding Booker.

Wendy and Mighty did fabulous throughout the week!

Wisdom from the Hearth

Emily manning the feed truck!

March 7, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 10

Welcome back everyone to “Who cooks for you?” brought to you by McGinnis Meadows guest and cattle ranch. I’m Emily, your trusty winter cook, and I’ll be your host for this edition of this weeks Highline! Come on down!!

The guests have returned and we are starting to see the first signs of a potential early spring. The song birds are returning, the snow is melting and the temps have been warm, near 50 some days! With the return of guests I have amped things up in the kitchen to ensure that after a long days ride the guests have something warm and comforting to look forward to once they return for the evening. This means fresh baked breads for hearty soups and stews and warm cookies for an after dinner treat.

I get asked often “But Emily, I saw you ride with us this morning. How do you have time to get all of this done?!” For me, creating meals means coming up with recipes that play off one another and feel complete. For example, a hearty garlic roll goes great with stuffed shells, meatballs, and roasted parmesan broccoli for soaking up all that extra homemade marinara sauce. And to top it all off there is always a full cookie jar with varying flavors and styles of homemade, fresh baked cookies. For me its all about time management but its also about having fun with it. I love to push the limits of what I can do and to see where I can do better. Its like a big game to me. I have a lot of fun seeing what flavor combinations I can come up with, how I can incorporate special dietary needs without loosing that special feel, and to see where I can improve from the last time I tried a recipe.

Rowdy boys

I thoroughly enjoy cooking. It’s not a job to me, It’s a outlet in which I can express my creativity. Where I really like to do this is with bread making. A year ago if you had asked me what temp the water needed to be to activate yeast growth I would have stared at you blankly with a bewildered look on my face. Bread making was incredibly foreign and extremely intimidating. But these days it has become one of my favorite things to do! I mean who doesn’t like a slice of warm scratch made bread with dinner? I have been able to really explore bread making and have great success with creative twists. It’s really not as intimidating as I had once thought. Some of my favorites have been a Boston brown bread, a cheddar herb Irish soda bread, herb butter clover-leaf rolls, and a good old fashioned garlic herb Italian loaves. I could go on but I might be here all day!

Simply majestic

The season has only just begun and as the winter cook that means I’ll soon be shifting to breakfast cook once peak season begins. But rest assured folks, this Winter cook is already coming up with new and exciting things to come. Until then, be happy, eat well, and never stop chasing your dreams.


Anna with her new armitas made by Will

Trying on the new armitas!

Elk sighted from the cab of the new excavator

Its a hard life for Sparky

Shayne sharing is knowledge with the class

Flexibility Rules!


February 29, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 9

This past week started the first winter 8 day horsemanship clinic. What an awesome group of riders! The Seattle

Karmen working with Monty, a Seattle Mounted Police horse

Mounted Police joined us with their mounts, and Flora (our beloved apprentice) is fortunate to have her family of Jon. Hannah and Clem here riding with her! Our longtime guest Joy, also joins us along with two riders new to the ranch but not new to riding.  There is still three days remaining in the clinic but so far, everyone is looking really good. They are working on seat position and how it relates to getting their horse to work off their seat and legs, (no reins) and setting up their horse’s transitions for cantering on the proper lead- and lots of other stuff of course 🙂

This week, Anna Banana gives us her perspective on returning to the ranch from a well deserved vacation…


Kevin riding Catman

Hey guys! I just got back from vacation this week and hit the ground running. While I was away, I had time to think. If you know me, sometimes thinking can be overwhelming. My mind is constantly going, going, and going. My mind works in lists most days, which is wonderful working at the ranch. My brain is quite like a Google Map-guided directions. It’s like missing a turn and “rerouting” shouts out in my head. It might sound silly, but it has taught me a lot about flexibility.

I thought about it a lot while on vacation. I thought about how I can take that same mentality, being prepared for anything and always have a plan A- B-C, and how it can change my horsemanship. Shayne talks about it all the time, how to always be ahead of everything sets your horse (and you) up for success.

The best way I could think of to start was making small easy changes. I started out with how leading my horse to

Clem on a pony he is training named Cheyanne

grain, or to saddle up should be as active as if I needed to get a gate closed before the cattle get through. Then I started with how my horse starts out on a circle. Small changes lead to big changes. I try to keep my brain going, re-evaluate, plan A didn’t go right? Go to plan B. Shayne had been teaching us a similar theory over the winter. Know what you want, know what you got, and know where your going.

This week was one for the record books when you talk about being flexible. With an 8 day clinic upon us, and Brenda going on vacation, I had to be at the ready for whatever comes up for the day. I spent the week shoeing, housekeeping, riding, reorganizing, and even spent a day in the kitchen to help Emily. As overwhelming as it might seem, it was actually one of the best weeks I’ve had.

Bo, of the Seattle Mounted Police riding Max


Being flexible doesn’t mean you become less decisive. Some might even say if you are too flexible you are a pushover. Man, are they wrong. I believe that being flexible puts you ahead of the pack. So challenge yourself to think more, do better, and stretch the heck out of the box to take the chance!

Anna Banana


Clayton looking very handsome (Anna K. Photo)

Hannah riding her horse Shorty, working on no reins, legs only

One very fluffy cat, Trouble!(Anna K. photo)

Bill Elk, (Anna K. Photo)

Joy K. riding Scotch working on a soft feel



Are you crushing the crackers?

February 22, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 8

This week was our first winter Horsemanship week and the 2020 debut of riding in the new indoor arena!

What a great group of riders! It didn’t matter that we had a mix of beginners as well as several returning guests. Mike and Martha, who are ‘locals’ from MT made their first visit here. Joy K., Jana, Anne-Catherine, and Kevin’s mom, Bronwyn also joined us. And we even had Anne and Julien all the way from France!


The focus this week was softness and using your seat with as little kicking as possible, to ask for life in your horse. Once this is achieved all the movements become so much easier and the horse keeps a good expression throughout. We are doing something new this season where we take video early on in the week and then another set on the last day so guests have a comparison. Sometimes you don’t see how far you have come!

We had 8 guests plus interns Maddie, and Flora, several wranglers, plus Shayne and Des in the arena each day. It is amazing how much room there is to work! Everyone was able to work on their exercises whether it be circles, straight lines, leg yields without any effect on anyone else- pretty cool.

Mid way through the week, Des invented a new exercise to help everyone to get their seat position more correct.

Julien made some friends while snowshoeing!

Anne from France!

It really helped set the legs in the correct position and get people from sitting on their butts in the saddle. Shayne would ask everyone, if you placed a cracker between the cantle and your butt, would it be crushed when you were done riding? The best answer is no, because a rider should be sitting up with their legs underneath them 🙂

It made significant changes for everyone and the horses felt it immediately too! Getting their horses to walk out was no longer an issue and the horses were all so relaxed.

The indoor has other perks too. Being that it is climate controlled, the horses that are waiting their turn to be ridden, all are so chill. Often times they choose to take naps, especially Tucker, Des’ little black horse. He is prone more than upright it seems!


We have been having warm sunny days here with pretty cold temps at night. This makes for a beautiful morning van ride over to the indoor with inversion putting a sparkling coating of ice on the trees.

Although we have been having a low snow winter here, several guests opted to rent snowshoes and take to the trails after their afternoon ride. It was a great way to end the day, and they even to visit the horse herd and a few elk residing in the winter pasture!

This coming week we will be heading into an 8-day horsemanship clinic. The Seattle Mounted Police, Flora’s family, and several other returning guests will be busy raising their level of education – and we can’t wait to see and ride with them all!


Happy Trails,


Jana and Anne-Catherine

Elk up high

snowshoeing was a lot of fun and gave tired muscles a chance to stretch out 🙂


Winter Horsemanship Begins at McGinnis Meadows!


February 15, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 7

These past couple weeks have been a whirlwind!!!

Shayne and I returned from Costa Rica on Feb 2nd and hit the ground running. We had two weeks to get everything in order for our new guests coming in.  That included:

Splitting the herd in half—horses that would be used immediately were taken over to Shayne’s new arena pastures. Originally, we thought with the snow pack we might be able to jingle them over. Except, a day after we got back, the ranch turned to ice and that meant we had to load up 36 horses and make several trips over to the arena. But the trips didn’t start smooth! The driveway to the arena was so icy, the truck got stuck and Anna had to come and chip the driveways with the John Deere while Kevin and I sprinted back and forth from the truck and trailer to the arena pastures in our ice cleats with horses. It was a long, silly day but seeing the horses enjoying their new pasture and rolling in fresh snow made it all worth it.

Deep cleaning all cabins and lodge rooms—we flew Yaz out for a couple weeks to work exclusively on this project. It took every single part of 2 weeks to get this grand feat accomplished!

Food—Emily is preparing for her first big breakout week of winter cooking! She’s been creating menus, ordering food and supplies and doing lots of deep cleaning around the kitchen side of things. We have been guinea pigs to several new recipes that are AH-MAAAAZING. I can’t wait for our guests to try them!


Riding and teaching—LOTS and LOTS of it! Janice and Brenda found some time each day to spend a few hours with us riding. Mostly though, Shayne and I had our base riding crew consisting of Kevin, Scott, and interns Maddie and Flora. With these four, we managed to get through around 30 horses per day. The “kids” probably felt like they were in bootcamp for much of the time! We rode from 8am-8pm most days.

It was so neat to see how far these guys came in two weeks. It would be hard to describe how big the changes were in the riding progressions of each individual. All I can say is that everything culminated into the best couple days of riding that any of us could remember. Every horse got better—walk, trot, canter, stop, leg yield, work the flag. Moving out with ease. With great expression.

Our guest horses are legged up and ready to get to work, both physically and mentally.

Today is another big day—we need to do a deep clean on Shayne’s new arena, plus the tack rooms, etc. We have to haul over saddles and bridles (all freshly cleaned courtesy of our wonderful crew). We need to put the final touches on the lodge and game room and make sure everything is guest-ready. Hmmm…feels like I’m forgetting something!

Have a great weekend!


Emily’s Kitchen Kraft

February 8, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 6

Howdy Ya’ll,

From your friendly neighborhood winter ranch cook, Emily. I thought I’d take this chance as this weeks Highline writer to answer some questions I’ve been asked over the past few months. 

Did you come to the ranch as a cook?

No. I came to the ranch this past June as a working intern. The working part of my internship had me placed in the kitchen where I was allowed to put my previous kitchen experience to good use. As the months progressed I was able to take some pressure off our peak season chef, Miriam. I started cooking during our off weeks and my recipes were so well received that I was asked to stay on through the winter to feed our hard working winter crew. How could I say no?!

Is it hard to come up with recipes that everyone will like?

I actually found it quite easy to come up with recipes everyone would like. I simply pulled ideas from good old fashioned comfort food recipes, with my own personal twist of course. Some of my tried and true recipes are pulled pork, garlic chicken pasta, Chinese take out, beef stew with mashed taters and Marry me chicken. 

How do you handle cooking for those with special diets?

Creating menus for those who have special diets has really been a lot of fun. I have a background in bodybuilding and actually have a good amount of healthy recipes under my belt that fit the requirements for those who are keto, paleo, and gluten and dairy free. The best part is that I have been incorporating them through out the winter menus and they have been a hit with everyone, and they don’t even know that they are considered “healthy clean eating”! I always consider it a win win when I can not only feed this hard working crew good hearty meals, but that I can keep them healthy as well. 

I’m excited to see what new favorites we can cook up this season and I look forward to starting an official MMGR cook book. What do you all think? Would you like to have your very own McGinnis Meadows cookbook? 


Emily’s awesome meatballs!

Anchor- “Hey Kevin, whatcha doin?”


New addition to the game room! Flat screen TV with Blueray, DVD player…And lots of DVD’s to watch 🙂

Buzz is just the cutest ever

Quote of the week

Shop re-do or, Kevin’s week at McGinnis Meadows

February 1, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 5

As always on Monday, I was excited to see what the week had in store.  We had to wrap up our last week before we start riding full time to get horses ready for guests who will be arriving in two weeks, so the crew has been busy!


As Janice mentioned last week I have been spending all my free time on the shop doing a complete redo on it,

When I wasn’t working in the shop this winter, I was doing a number of things from setting mouse traps to de-limbing the west pasture to helping randy replace a water pump on our (dumb) truck; checking the housing that is not in use to make sure heat and water were still running properly; keeping fence hot and intact, to pitching in with tack whenever I could.

Knowing we had lots of little things to wrap up and get the

More before

shop finished this week kept us motivated. We were able to get it done by Wednesday. After the shop was done we were able to do a clean and organize of the warming hut in the hospital, and we also got all of our bridles cleaned and oiled. With saddles and bridles done that pretty much wraps up our tack!!

Winter staff were all assigned a horse to ride over the winter and I got King. He has been so much fun to ride!!! He taught me a LOT.  Below you can see he waiting very patiently for his grain.

I’m excited to start up our winter horsemanship and have guests again. Thanks for reading along. 

Until next time,


Almost complete

Ta Da!  Great job Kevin!

King- such a gentle giant.

Guess who is bored?!

The magnificent five!