Chipotle an OTTB at his first AA show at Brownland in the 1m

Hi Everyone!

The perspective and topic will be a little different this week, primarily through the lens of me, Sami. I’ve been here since August and come from a very different background. Currently I manage the office, help shoe horses, and am a wrangler here at McGinnis Meadows. My profession has been in the hunter/jumper/equitation industry and show world as a rider and trainer in the southeast. Primarily I’ve focused on re-training a lot of off the track thoroughbreds for my lesson program and show program. I’ve specialized in the fixer uppers of the horse world, many times being given show ring failures to fix or thoroughbreds who needed a new job. Beyond that, I was teaching and running a full time lesson and show program in the local Atlanta area. I loved it! I’ve been in the industry for 14 years as a pro and have enjoyed the majority of the journey.

Katie one of my first OTTBs in the 1.10m

In 2021 I came across Buck Brannaman’s clinic schedule and rode with him on my personal horse, Cat. Cat is one of those high anxiety, hot, red headed thoroughbreds, and was a stallion until he was 7. If you know, you know. Cat was always the crux of my training program, I could never unlock his full potential like I had so many others. There were many moments of beautiful dancing, but it never translated to his jumping. Riding with Buck opened my eyes to another way, and I was hooked. I took everything home that I had learned Horsemanship 1 & 1.5, over a period of months I saw major change. In the next 6 months or so I came upon two more horses that I couldn’t get past a certain point mentally or physically in their riding. I had a trainer friend of mine give me a lovely 1.40m horse, Rocks, who was a show horse flunk out. I really wanted to produce him to his potential. I just knew I needed more, there was more to learn and understand. I didn’t know how I would do that with a full time business and program that was consuming my life, in a good way. The desire to engage in learning Buck’s horsemanship so my horses could move with ease like his horses in the dance, never left me.

Cat at the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover in KY

Here comes summer of 2022. I found myself burnt out on my own riding discipline & teaching; shockingly without a job on my own farm and now a free agent. With the encouragement of a long time friend and mentor Sunny Stevens, I applied to McGinnis Meadows as an intern. Sunny was top top in our industry, and even she knew, there’s always more to learn, even if it wasn’t conventional. With her encouragement to jump way outside the box, I did it. After one phone call, for some reason, Des hired me on as a wrangler instead. If only I knew exactly what I had just signed up for! After driving Cat and Rocks 2500 miles from Atlanta, GA to Libby, MT we made it. Little did I know, I was in for a serious learning curve. Within my first three weeks I had worked under the ranch farrier and helped shoe 80 horses, I was decently versed in shoeing…but not like this. Second week was spent learning the ins and outs of the office to where I could independently run it by the time Janice left after teaching me. Bless her, she was patient. My third week I was broken in on my first guest week, I thought horse showing was exhausting with long hours and clients galore. Nothing compared to a 10 day guest week, but I survived and so did Cat and Rocks.

Rocks and Cat

They went from stalled horses with 12hr turnout to permanent outdoorsmen. That did not blow over well with Cat, but shockingly Rocks the ‘boujiee’ European import decided he was game for the outdoor life. Cat made it to the top of Pier Mountain on his first time out with guests and Rocks got to hang out. All three of us stepped into a whole new world, and it came with a curve. Especially for me, every facet of my horsemanship was challenged as well as an entire lifetime of riding & teaching skills. Even now, 5 months later, the challenge is still present but the pursuit of higher horsemanship never leaves. The love of the horses and the gift of riding God has blessed me with never fails, just keep pressing on. In the midst of life’s lemons and adversity, the pursuit of honoring Him with my life and my horses remains the same. In this, I can honor the people around me and do my best for this ranch, Shayne, and Des. For a continuation of the journey, read next week!

Cat on Pier Mountain