The Highline Blog
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!
September 7, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 34
We had a great September kick-off this week! We practiced horsemanship, we moved cattle, and as a grand finale we had live music on Friday night! To join us in the fun McGinnis Meadows had the pleasure of welcoming back many old and dear friends. Pat and Phil from the UK were here and delightful as ever. Pat rode out to Graze everyday to adventure and look for cattle while Phil travelled around with Kevin.
We also had Sharon and David as well as France and Gill who all trailered out with us to Graze to explore the vast country and check on as many steers as possible. It was wonderful to have them back and get to know them better. We also had a dedicated horsemanship crowd this week: Anne-Catherine, Joy and Susanne all were able to ride with Shayne in his newly built indoor arena. When the weather was too hot or rainy they had the luxury of a controlled environment to best focus on their riding. In the arena Shayne continued to teach them about their timing and balance as everyone working on their posture in short serpentines and their straightness as they later moved their horses out around the arena.
New intern alert! Welcome to McGinnis Meadows, Maddie! She’s already learning so much in horsemanship and will be with us for three months. Sadly, we do have to say goodbye to Flora this week; she’s been with us for the month of August as Des’ apprentice and has proved to be a great help around the ranch.
As part of our great week we had a wonderful picnic on top of Davis Mountain! In the morning all of the riders and wranglers saddled up and trailered out and started riding up- up to the top of the mountain where you can look out over the east side of the valley towards Thompson Lakes and out over the west side towards the Cabinets. When everyone met at the top, Kevin and Phil were there with a great picnic spread complete with cheese, fruits, and wine. Following lunch we all took a group photo to commemorate the day. It was delightful.
To wrap up the week we got to welcome back to the ranch Dave Blackburn’s band who never fail to give us an enchanting evening with their lively music. Everyone went to the tent after dinner to participate in the festivities and mirth that arise whenever a fiddle and banjo start playing together. As the music was starting we pulled out the dinosaur suits for a round of dancing and races. Yes. We know it may be silly 🙂 But its so much fun to see our wranglers and interns inside these giant inflatable suits! Everyone inside the suits had a great time too- what started as a race among the dinosaurs quickly turned into a game of chasing Des around the meadow! And, soon enough, the ropes were pulled out and everyone not dressed as a dinosaur was trying to rope the dinosaurs. No such thing as a boring day around McGinnis Meadows!
Thanks to everyone that was here for helping to make it a memorable week! Hopefully we’ll be able to see them again soon.
August 31, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 33
Hope you all have had a great week!
Once in a while around here we have a week that is different from our peak season- during this time the staff is all charged
to complete their various projects around the ranch. Although we usually all find ourselves just as busy during the ‘off’ weeks, it is a nice change of pace and a great opportunity to get some good work done.
At the beginning of this week many of the wranglers were sent out to Graze to learn the country! It was a blast!! Anna drove out Brenda, Janice, Ash, and Anna (other Anna- that’s me 🙂 ) and when we got there all five of us hopped on our horses, grabbed our map and set off in different directions. We explored as far as we could finding mineral tubs, water tanks, gates, and trails. The more we rode out the more comfortable we all became with the terrain- knowing where it would be best to bring steers and guests. There is so much freedom in having the opportunity for individual exploration – to ride out alone, to get a little bit lost, to navigate your way back home again. There is nothing better.
As Labor Day approaches, everyone here at McGinnis Meadows would like to express our gratitude. Living on a working cattle and horse ranch, we have an idea of what it is to work and are, therefore, very appreciative of the effort and sacrifices made by others before us. Since 1894, we as a nation have celebrated Labor Day to remember the day-to-day toil and struggle of individuals and families as they fought for their livelihoods and existence. Although for many today it usually means that summer is coming to a close, for us it allows us to get excited for what the fall will bring- horsemanship, cattle drives, changing weather and vibrant colors. Labor Day is a great opportunity to be thankful for the lives we are able to lead and look forward to the adventures to come.
Before bringing this Highline to a close, we need to give a shout-out to a couple of members of our staff! #1: The beautiful, vibrant, and wonderful Emily. Emily is a working intern here at McGinnis Meadows and during this week has taken on the challenge of making dinners for everyone every night. Boy has she fed us well! From chipotle night to Chinese food and even breakfast for dinner! Not a single person leaves with an ounce of room in their stomach. Another person that deserves a bit of recognition: #2: Jenny! Jenny has been an intern here at the ranch for about a month and has been helping Brenda with all of her doctoring responsibilities. While talking with Brenda it is evident what an asset Jenny has been to her the past weeks- she is always reliable, hard-working, and enthusiastic. For our third and final shout-out: Janice. Everyone who knows Janice loves her. You will never find someone more dedicated to the days tasks; I have the joy of working with her in the office every day and am just so grateful for her and the help she ceaselessly gives me as I learn the ins and outs of the office.
Alright, I’ll stop gushing about my ranch family now 🙂 Hope you all have a wonderful week and a very restful holiday.
August 24th, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 32
Well, I’m not gonna lie, for everyone who was not able to be with us this week: you missed out! It was an absolutely wonderful week!
We got to welcome a great group of new and old friends to the ranch. Betty and Tanja came back to McGinnis to continue their horsemanship education. We also got to welcome a new group from North Carolina! Their friendliness and willingness to learn quickly made them beloved by all the staff here at the ranch. Finally, all the way from England we welcomed Autumn, Laila, and Hannah! We had a great time with them comparing all the differences between the UK and our own USA. This group was so much fun that almost every evening there were grand tournaments of pool and ping pong going on in our game room!
In horsemanship this week we all went back to our very favorite exercise: short serpentines! (For some people this statement is genuine and for others it is excessively sarcastic). However, all the practice that we had with it during the week really impressed upon all of the interns, guests and wranglers just how important they are in the education of the horse. Getting the horses to travel united through all four quarters really helped them to achieve balance and softness through every movement. We will be doing a lot more of that in the future!
After all the horses were well balanced and prepared following the short serpentines, Shayne allowed some of the staff and interns to have a couple races 🙂 And race we did! The new indoor arena is the perfect amount of space and footing to really open up the horses and allow them to stretch their legs. What a joy it is to be able to push yourself and your horse and then dial back to come to a full stop with a soft feel- our ranch horses are serious athletes!
…Speaking of horsemanship, do you want a learning adventure like no other? If you are looking for a way to ride and study at McGinnis Meadows the fall and winter seasons are spectacular. With eye candy fall colors and horsemanship to fuel your soul we still have just a couple of openings available the week of October 13th. If winter is more to your liking,
We like to think of these programs as a classroom on horseback 🙂 There is no other place that offers this level of detail for learning, with all the amenities. With possibilities to ride outdoor in the meadows in the fall and indoor in our NEW larger
state of the art indoor arena in the winter, there will be a multitude of things to work on in your pursuit of horsemanship.
For Winter Program, we move into the indoor full time – About the only place you’ll need a coat is to walk to and from the lodge from your cabin, or from the shuttle to the NEW heated indoor arena! The non-riding hours are low-key and relaxing, enabling guests to unwind and have some quiet time in a peaceful setting.
There are many reasons to reserve your spot – too numerous to mention here, so if you are serious about improving your riding and want to spend time in a beautiful setting, contact Janice for more info or to reserve your spot(s)– stay for two weeks if you’d like! (406) 293-5000. email@example.com
We were also able to do a lot of cattle work this week- Lorraine, Erin, and Laila went out a lot with Sue (who they nicknamed Sunshine) and Ash (who they called Dimples)- they all had a great time traveling the country and finding the cattle.
To top off the week we had a great campfire- we had the pleasure of introducing s’mores to Hannah, Autumn, and Laila. We all had a great evening filled with music, campfire snacks, and conversation. I know I speak for all the staff here at the ranch that the guests that have become our good friends this week will be missed.
That’s all for now… but there is much more to come.
Anna and Janice
August 18th, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 31
This week was originally dubbed as an “off-week” by Shayne and I. Off-weeks are dedicated to re-riding through the string, catching up on ranch projects and tending to various odds-and-ends.
However, when we were notified that there was a chance that the ENTIRE Seattle Mounted Police Unit might be able to come out that week, with ALL of their horses, the week was opened up!
And since it was officially opened, we started filling it up with more and more really neat people—We had stayover guests Rainer, Genna and Diana from Germany. We had the Binninger family. We had former employees and interns, Brooke, Eden and Nathan (with his better half, Marianne). AND to top it all off, we had two members from the Army Caisson from D.C.—Robert, their civilian trainer and all-around program director, and Staff Sgt Adam, one of their riders.
So basically, our off week went from zero guests to our busiest week of the season thus far!
It was actually a ton of fun, working with so many dedicated students of horsemanship and (in the case of the Mounted Unit) working with their horses too! Stephan, the head trainer in the Unit, was even able to bring a new horse, and get it re-started and ridden with the help of Roby!
Since everyone was super dedicated on the horsemanship end, we created multiple “stations” for the guests to rotate through. Roby covered groundwork in the old indoor arena and horsemanship outside. I covered cantering exercises in the outdoor arena and lots of refined soft feel work. Shayne was in his NEW arena of course! He covered all aspects—from short serpentines, the hind and front exercise and leg yields, to cantering arcs and beautiful straight lines on correct leads to work on the cutting machine.
Janice bounced around getting a few of our greener riders up to speed so that they could come into the larger classes with confidence. She did an amazing job! This was the first time that we had the mounted officers out here withthe full support of their superiors. Sgt Kevin had never ridden before, but he came out and entered up so that one day he could deploy with his men to “lead from the front!” Speaking of leading from the front…CHIEF DIAZ from Seattle surprised the Unit by ALSO showing up at the ranch to learn to ride! Both men showed their leadership and focus and blew our minds with how good they got in such a short amount of time.
Robert was a guest at the ranch 9 years ago, and came here at that time to go back to the Caisson with tools to take back to their training program. It’s been a long stretch away, but he was finally allowed to come out again for more training. We think this is the start of many more training weeks ahead!
This was the Binningers 3rdtrip out here this year. They are the most dynamic family I’ve ever known! How much of a blessing to have an entire family of dedicated horse-people! This trip they are leaving behind one member—little Flora is going to be my personal apprentice for the next three weeks! I’m not sure who is more excited about it between the two of us. It is certainly going to be a fun, fun experience!
And my goodness…I cannot even begin to describe how good it felt to have Brooke, Eden and Nathan back “home.” These people are family to me, I love them to pieces! Riding horses with them every day made this week so special. Just thinking about it gives me all the warm and fuzzies J
It was a big week but it paid big dividends! We are excited to see how the training this week translates into better riders, better horses and (for the Mounted Police and the Army Caisson) better overall training programs that are sustainable.
Have a great week everyone!
August 10, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 30
Hey there everybody,
What a wonderful and eventful week we have had! This week we moved all of our steers from McKillop pasture all the way to Davis Mountain! Every morning the horses and riders set to go out on the hunt would pack up and trailer out to the mountain. They would then unload and set forth on a day full of playing hide and seek with the steers. After a week of searching, our devoted guests were successful in their conquest- the entire herd of steers were found and moved! Although the expedition was technically led by Roby and Sue, we all know it was really Genna who was the leader- Genna is a dear little friend from Germany and has been coming to the ranch for years to help us gather and move our cattle. Next week we will be able to celebrate her 12thbirthday with her!
Many of our guests this week also found a great benefit from participating in horsemanship class with Des and Shayne. Des led many through her round pen exercise where our guests were given the opportunity to really practice their seat at the trot and canter- this exercise is great because it allows the rider to simply focus on getting their balance straight and correct without having to worry about rein management. Without fail every person that has come out of the round pen from their time with Des are either more confident about what they have to offer a horse or are sure about what they need to work on to be as great a support to their horse as they can be. It’s really like magic sometimes seeing the guest’s blossom on horseback through this exercise.
Horsemanship with Shayne was just as accomplished this week- on Friday we had a competition but it wasn’t the sort of roaring and racing that one might usually think of when competition on horseback is mentioned. In horsemanship, we all worked on finding the best rate to fit our horses at the walk and within that rate be able to work with them correctly in and out of a soft feel. It was a great time and the horses all responded so positively- every horse wore an expression of sheer relaxation through every movement.
To take full advantage of the beautiful weather this week, we had a number of groups headed out to the lake! Kayaking and paddle boarding are favorite pass times of many of us around here at the ranch so its always fun to share it with our guests. Janice always makes sure that everyone going to the lake is prepared for a day of fun- she even makes sure that we have apple and orange slices packed to enjoy as a snack out on the water. It’s a great way to escape this dry heat.
This week we got to welcome to the ranch our newest intern, Jenny! She’s from the UK will be with us for three months. This is just the beginning for her and we are so excited to see how she will improve from her training with Shayne and Des 🙂
That’s all for now, folks. Hope to see you all down the road!
August 3, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 29
Now that the clinics with Buck are over haying season is in full swing here at the ranch! For days now our team of hardworking women and men has been out mowing, raking, baling, and storing all of the hay from the freshly trimmed meadows. Altogether they made over 2000 bales! All the grass that was previously tall enough to overshadow some of our smaller horses is now sheared short like a buzz cut. The bales they are making are nothing to mess with either- each square bale is close to 600 pounds! No wonder it takes so much work. Once all of the hay is stored away and the crew has a moment to rest we will be able to ride out into the meadows and do cavalry exercises and other fun games in all the newly opened space. Oh the anticipation!
Apart from haying, the rest of the staff is hard at work getting projects done around the ranch. Up in the office, Janice and I are prepping for 2020 already! Finalizing our schedule and taking in reservations for the new year has allowed us both to become excited for what next year will bring- and its hardly August! Be sure to check out all of the great opportunities laid out on our newly updated website.
Downstairs around the kitchen our faithful kitchen crew are yet hard at work making sure that the rest of us have hearty meals to come to at the end of the day- we would all starve without them! I am sure you are all familiar with the quality of cuisine that we are given here at McGinnis Meadows- we’re spoiled with so many thoughtfully prepared meals. Hands down. No question.
Since unveiling his new indoor arena last week, everyone has been itching to get over to Shayne’s new ring! It’s breathtaking and BIG! Every detail has been considered and executed with mastery. The footing is great and the space ideal with enough pens set up to accommodate any ranch and personal horses that would be lucky enough to cross the threshold.
Although it breaks our hearts to think of it, this week we have the excessively miserable job of saying goodbye to some beloved members of our ranch family. Dave and Adrienne will be moving away… some of us are handling it better than others. The impact they have made on this place through their devotion to their work and friendships will always be felt and cherished. In the words of Shayne, “They’re leaving this place better than they found it.” And we all know this to be true. We wish them well and send all our love with them down the road.
We’re back to our normal schedule next week with a couple of changes- Dani finished her internship this past week and is heading home. We are hoping to see her again very soon. On a happier note, Kevin is back! Amidst all the sadness of saying goodbye to good friends, it’s a nice change to be able to welcome one back home to the ranch. In regard to our upcoming week: it will inevitably be very eventful as we prepare to move the steers to their next grazing allotment and welcome a whole new group of guests to the ranch.