The Highline Blog

Hello’s and goodbyes at the ranch


December 8, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 47

Greetings everyone,

We got a dusting of snow here the past couple of days and the mountains are looking a little bit whiter now. We have been pretty lucky to date with temps being very reasonable for this time of year, but it sure feels colder the past couple of mornings. It is about time for winter.

We had a small but avid group of students here this week.

        Lela on Chalkeye, working on a soft feel

Lela competed her third week in a row here at the ranch! She really improved her seat and it showed in the results she was getting with the horses she rode. Tom from Connecticut visited last year and came back for some more horsemanship. He also made progress in several facets of his riding, including being able to get more life in his horse then dial it down. Kelly and Jacqueline are friends who made the trip together from Pennsylvania. They studied hard and had a great time in the process. This week our guests were able to switch horses with each other – this really allowed them to feel what each person put into the horse and compare if they were able to make them better, or if there were spots in their riding to work through.

                 Jacqueline riding Scotch

Roby is teaching while Shayne and Des are away on vacation and he always does a fabulous job of keeping riders engaged, challenging them and encouraging as needed.

On a sad note, as you may have read on Facebook, our good friend and co-worker, Nathan, will be leaving on Sunday to embark on a new life. He has been here for seven seasons!  First and foremost, he was our farrier and took great care of each and every one of our 110+ ranch and client horses.  He has been the best farrier we’ve ever had and the herd was never more sound than while under his care.

Of course, Nathan was also a wrangler, was often the first person a new guest would meet at the ranch, always picked wildflowers for the ladies on his horseback rides and gave quite a few roping lessons!  He spent several seasons grilling steaks for the guests, branding their boots and hats and building bonfires.  He did a TON of stuff behind the scenes over the years to keep the ranch running smoothly.

 Nathan has many talents. We will       miss him.

Such an amazing individual couldn’t be tied down for long!  He met a guest at the ranch named Marianne and they fell in love.  After doing the long-distance thing for long enough, he made the decision to join Marianne in the Netherlands.  After a few weeks of adventures and well needed rest, Nathan plans on becoming a saddle maker and all around leather-worker.  He’ll still shoe a few horses from time to time, but it’s about time to give his back a rest from such hard work.

Nathan will be back to visit though!  We already have him committed to come back in April to supervise Anna and Scott putting on the first shoes of the season.  (They were his students last summer and fall and are both finishing up shoeing school in California at the moment!)  He’ll be riding with us every day too!  Maybe you guys will be lucky enough to ride with him again too? We wish him the very best.  And we are looking forward to seeing him in a few months!

Everyone here is getting ready for the Holiday season- We now have a fresh cut tree in the dining room

      Christmas tree with handmade decorations!

along with decorations and colored lights outside. If you look closely you just might find that some elves have been busy decorating the smaller tress that reside close to the lodge. When you work on a ranch, the horses don’t know or care that it is a holiday, so life goes on pretty much as usual with chores and business that needs tending too. But I can’t think of a better way to celebrate and spend the holiday season than with a close knit group of people who have really become a second family to us. Now all we need is some snow for a white Christmas (just a little though!)

Happy Trails,

Janice and Adrienne

            Kelly riding Booker

                 More Holiday Spirit!

                           Tom on Jasper

                        A little snow on the mountains

November 25, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 46

Greeting everyone,

Lela, Clive, Nathan and Karmen

It was another busy week here at the ranch! We had eight guests, with Lela, Clive and Norbert staying on to continue their education. What a fun group- sometimes when I am up working in the office I can hear the peals of laughter coming up from the dining room- it is great to be a part of knowing that everyone, even despite a challenging learning day, all become friends in such a short time.

Morgan on Anchor, learning to turn her body with her horse


Karmen, who was an intern with us last winter, returned to gain more knowledge. We also had Peter, a local Kalispell resident, Kristina, Lisa and her daughter Morgan who were here for their first time.

The week was filled with creative ways to help riders overcome some old habits that can stand in the way of achieving the next level of riding. That is just one huge benefit of the horsemanship programs here- the teaching is never stagnant- if someone is having trouble understanding or doing, as long as they are willing to work hard at it, our teachers will never stop helping.

Peter had very limited experience with riding horses so he was able

       Peter and Lisa pairing up to work on some exercises

to learn a ton about a variety of things. Shayne showed guests how to bridle and unbridle their horses under the close eye of the wranglers and everyone took great care to follow the steps. It can take only one bad experience of hitting a horse’s teeth or pinching their ear to get them hard to bridle, so he is very particular about how it gets done.

This group of guests as well as last week’s, were just awesome with wanting to pitch in to help with everything from brushing horses in the mornings, to cleaning pens at night. Many of them have horses and work in the horse industry at home and they preferred to be kept busy. Wow- it was really appreciated and the staff was feeling pretty spoiled :-). Thanks everyone for all of the help!

 Kathleen and Chief

Kathleen, our intern, headed home today back to her husband Brian, who we are sure missed her the past 4 weeks. Kathleen was a great student which is not surprising given that she was an airforce colonel in her former life. She made huge progress in learning how to use her seat and legs. She and Brian will be back again as guests next year and we can’t wait to see them both again.


On a sad note, we are sending our thoughts along to Des, who lost her beloved dog Gus after 13 years of companionship. These animals of ours are such a huge part of our lives, and it is always so difficult to see them move on. Gus had a great life with her and she’ll always have great memories of the fun they had together.

Dave and Adrienne returned from their Thanksgiving vacation, as did Roby, so we are back to most of our crew for at least a couple of weeks! The staff here is amazing… starting today you can read about each member of the McGinnis Meadows crew in our Facebook “Year in Review” series. Learn what we all took away from this past season and get to know a little bit more about us!

Of course, you can always visit in person too- If you make a reservation before December 15th for a 2019 week, with friends or family, you’ll receive a discount! Contact me at (406) 293-5000 or for more info.

We got a dusting to an inch of snow overnight and the temps are predicted to be quite a bit colder than they have, so it appears that winter is finally arriving.

Have a great week!


         Trouble surveying his domain

      Haven’t seen too many Bucks this season but Norbert                       caught one on his camera yesterday

Des, and the little bit you can see of Big Omar!

     Jenna!  She makes sure everyone is well fed.

  Karmen worked really hard this week!

 Kristina and Brumby

Lela having a chance to get Amigo hooking on to her

  Lisa and daughter Morgan

Norbert and Chaos working on a soft feel

Shayne teaching Morgan a feel on the reins. Nobody works harder at teaching and studying than he does…

Thanksgiving week at McGinnis Meadows Ranch

November 24, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 45

Hey Everyone,

Thanksgiving Week! My favorite week of the year!!!

And this was my favorite Thanksgiving week to date! I’ll tell you why…

A wonderful Thanksgiving dinner was had by all, thanks to our magnificent Kitchen crew!

First of all, 8 out of our 9 guests were repeats. The only one who was new, Kelly, came with two of our repeat guests and she immediately blended in. It felt like we had our family over for a visit—except maybe better 😉

An interesting fact this week was that out of our 9 guests, FIVE of them had previously had, or currently have horses in training with us. That definitely shows the dedication of this group of people! Casey and Ann brought their personal horses this week (who were both past client horses) and Lyne and Kathy rode their personal client horses who are currently in the program. Roby has been riding Andy, Lyne’s horse and I’ve been riding Romeo, Kathy’s horse and it was so neat to see these ladies ride the horses, help them here and there, but mostly to see how well they both got along!

Shayne demonstrating on BIlly

My birthday was the day before Thanksgiving and I was so grateful that all of the kitchen staff took time out of their day (they were BUSY with Thankgiving prep!) to come out to the arena with a custom made “Keto” birthday dessert. I’ve never had the honor of being sung Happy Birthday, while eating dessert, while horseback! And on Omar nonetheless! It was quite majestic, hahaha. Our crew is simply THE BEST!

On Thanksgiving, we just took a short break for mid-day snacks, but otherwise, rode straight through until just before an early Thanksgiving dinner. The place was decorated so beautifully! In lieu of our normal pre-dinner prayer, instead we went around the table and each person said what they were thankful for.

Just one of the amazing Thanksgiving  appetizers!

Miriam and Jenna cooked up two turkeys—one traditional and one smoked! There was also the juiciest beef tenderloin I’ve ever had! Lots of sides, of course. Hot buttered rum, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and Jenna made a couple of “keto” cheesecake pies for some of our staff and guests who are trying to eat “healthier.” It was the yummiest Thanksgiving dinner we had ever had!

So much great stuff this week. I’ve hardly even mentioned the riding—which was the best part of all! All of Shayne, Roby and my “re-ride” string of horses continued to make great progress. It’s so fun to feel how much a horse can change in a short amount of time, simply by going through the progressions each ride, focusing on their balance and rewarding them often.

Ann and her horse Brandy

Each guest made great strides on their horses. Everyone was a high achiever and worked to be the best for their horses each day. With these types of students, there is not much re-riding that needs to be done to maintain the horses. They are able to maintain softness and life.

In the event that we jump on a horse to demonstrate something a little tougher for the guests—we are pleasantly surprised by how good they feel!

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving week as well! Maybe you can join us in the arena and at the dinner-table next year 🙂


Clive made great progress and he still has another week to go at the ranch!

Casey and her neat horse Firestone

Norbert got along well with each horse he rode.


Mr. Magoo is so handsome!

Kathy was able to ride her horse Romeo, who has been here in training 

Kelly did great-it was her first time here at MMR!

Lyne rode her horse Andy, who is also here in training  

Even more food- the dessert table!  

Kathleen and Brumby 

Donald Trump having a bad hair day 🙂   

Eric and his horse Buck

November 17, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 44

Hey Everyone,

We just wrapped up our first ever 8-day clinic at the ranch! The consensus between Shayne, Roby and I, and that of our guests was that this was the BEST Winter Horsemanship instruction, EVER! It was so good that we are planning on doing another extended program later this winter and then maybe even beyond that!

Brandon from Seattle is new to this but did amazing this week!

The clinic officially started last Friday, but guests were encouraged to show up early on Thursday to watch Shayne, Roby and I riding through all of the horses we were going to use for the guests during the clinic. Guests were able to see how we went through our progressions, how the horses responded, and how we might have addressed any areas that the horses were weak in. All horses that passed the test of progressions were then rolled over into our guest and intern riding program. Some horses did not pass all tests and that was another learning opportunity in itself because the guests were able to watch us continue riding these horses throughout the clinic and watch how much better they became with each ride!

Guests and interns rotated through the string of horses daily…everyone’s horse was switched every day. Basically, they rode between 6-8 horses apiece during the clinic and were able to feel how much different each horse was while still working on the all of the same progressions that each horse needed to be able to have. Some are smoother, some are bigger movers, some have a good trot but need work at a good walk, etc., but the goal was to get each horse to operate the same—with life, with feet free, with softness.

         Des working with Client horse Romeo

All of the guests in this clinic have been here multiple times and knew what to expect in regards to the intensity of the teaching style. What I absolutely loved about this group though, was that we were able to start at square one each day and work on getting it as refined as possible. What I mean is, very few people have the patience and tenacity to really work on getting beautiful united circles with life, with the ability to roll the hind in time with the feet, in perfect flexion, and then to have the timing to reach the front foot and go back into a united circle. And then to get this so good that they can accomplish the circles with legs only because their legs and hands had so much meaning together. This is what we do in every Buck clinic but the refinement takes quite a bit of effort and focus—especially when you are riding multiple horses. But this is what needs to happen first in the progressions, or nothing else will be worth much.

These guests are all dedicated horsemen and women so they were driven to succeed in this task. Because of this drive, they were able to accomplish every other task—a powerful walk in a soft feel, leg yield, stopping hard, backing arcs and turning fast! And that’s just at the walk! All guests were ultimately able to trot with arms folded on circles or straight lines, and canter circles of all sizes, never missing a lead. It was basically every teacher’s dream to have a class of students like this! Shayne was thrilled!

Casey on her horse Firestone and intern Kathleen getting Jasper soft.

It was also really fun for Shayne, Roby and I to give our personal horses a break for awhile, to ride through several ranch horses. This is a very hard season and it can be SOOOO demanding on the ranch horses to be able to maintain their foundation through multiple riders and experiences. We re-ride them throughout the year, but not nearly as often as we’d like to. Some of the greener A and B string horses need their foundation revisited more often, as do those who can be very sensitive.

Shayne has taken over riding Billie, Pecos, Badger and Malone. He’s going to ride them all winter and come springtime, they will be quite fancy! Roby is re-riding Bandit and Quick. I started riding Nigel, Max, Catman and Omar. Nigel and Catman will be longer term projects (and I’m not complaining about having them to hang on to!). Max and Omar should be ready in the next couple weeks if all continues to go well.

 Clive on Brumby

I’m just so happy with all of it—our guests, our interns, our horses. I love how Shayne continues to refine his teaching style and adjusts the format to be able to suit every horse and rider. It’s nice to have a mentor that continually challenges you to be more refined, softer, kinder to the horses and who can demonstrate everything he is teaching. I can’t get enough of the comradery between, he, I and Roby in this teaching environment—we just have so much fun. Between the horses and the people, I just feel wrapped up in one big family and every day I count myself so very blessed to be a part of it.

Next week is Thanksgiving and I’m already pre-thankful for all of the Ah-MAZZING food that Miriam and Jenna will be concocting! I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving as well!!!!

Till next time,


Carolyn showing Magoo some love


Seattle Mounted Police officer, Stephan, working with Scotch    


Our intern Rachel left us to return home this week. She hopes to come back to the ranch to continue her education.   


Morning jingle on a frosty morning!

Kathy riding Anchor, one of the younger guest horses  

Goodbye Cattle, Hello Winter!

November 10, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 43

Greetings everyone,

Well, the ranch is a little quieter now with all of the steers gone. We loaded them up on Tuesday morning and said our goodbyes. They definitely add another element to the atmosphere here and it seems strange without them.

 Brenda with the boys, one last         time.

Once the steers were loaded, several of us were fortunate to be able to audit Buck’s clinic in Whitefish. This is a true Horsemanship 2 clinic (one of the only ones that Buck teaches). It is so educational to watch not only Buck riding his horse Eddie, but to see the journey that everyone else is on with their pursuit of this study. Buck put Eddie in the hackamore for the first time at the clinic. Often times the transition can take a bit of time because of the different feel on their nose and the flexion coming from under the chin rather than the direct rein of the snaffle. With Buck riding Eddie though, by the second day you would never have known it was new to him. His horses are well prepared before he ever puts them into the next progression of gear, and it really shows.

Des, Shayne and Roby put in some good rides on Pard, Cooley and Daisy, as well as getting some valuable

Buck on Eddie, first time in Hackamore. The photo is not so sharp, but enough to see how soft Eddie is already!

feedback from Buck- we’re all studying this as hard as we can to continue improving. On the final day, girl power ruled with Des making some great heel shots during the finals of the “Whitefish clinic ranch roping competition”.

Once back at the ranch we started a unique guest week – an 8 day clinic format that is enabling these returning guests to really take their riding to the next level. Thursday was the first day of the clinic and it began with a demonstration of how the guest horses are prepared for the next guests who are about to ride them. Shayne, Des and Roby each rode several horses and put them through all of the progressions they use to get the horses rebalanced, have life and move out with a feel. Wranglers, interns and guests all got to watch this and it was very educational.

Des being very particular about what she is looking for, with Scotch.

It has been snowing lightly here for a few days now…no accumulation but just enough with dropping temperatures to make it feel like winter is approaching. Nathan will finish pulling shoes off all the ponies and pretty soon they will be moved to the winter pasture next to the indoor arena.

On a sadder note, our intern Ashley will be leaving today to go back home. We have really enjoyed having her here and hope that she makes it back to the ranch sometime soon. We will miss you Ash!

As you have been reading in the past few editions of the Highline, winter horsemanship is in full swing with some pretty innovative teaching happening here.

Shayne, Roby and Buck getting in some practice shots.

If you’d like to get in on this, there are still a few spots remaining over the winter. And, if you book two back to back weeks, you’ll receive a 5% discount off of the already low rate, for the second week! Contact Janice to reserve your spot at, or 406-293-5000.

Happy trails,




Kathleen working on better balance with Twizzle. Not perfect yet, but she rewards him for a good try.


Stephan from Seattle Mounted Police riding Chaos

Kathy on Scotch working on straightness

Clive and Benny

Carolyn chose to ride a ranch horse this time around (instead of her personal horse). Here she works on softness and unity while backing.

Ashlyn, a serious student in this photo, but don’t let that fool you – she is super fun to be around!

...And then letting him move out

Roby riding bandit. Getting life through engagement…

Des, getting ready to throw a heel shot – she was awesome!

Casey with her personal horse Firestone

Brandon, also from Seattle Mounted Police, working with Jasper

Return of the neck ropes, more cattle and loads of fun at MMR


November 3, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 42

Hello everyone,

Last view of the boys this season

This is the final week of cattle here at the ranch before they head out early next week, and guests were lucky enough to be able to do one last cattle drive! The cattle were moved from the Belgard pasture to just below Randy and Dori’s place making the final trip to the scale house a little bit easier. The less stress there is on the steers, the better it is for them.

It has been raining a lot here (like everyday!), but the warmer temperatures

Rainbow at the end of the rainstorm

are still hanging on so all of the outdoor ranch work continues.

We had 5 returning guests this week and 3 first time participants. Roby was teaching again while Shayne and Des were finishing up their clinics with Buck in Spanaway.

Tina, Federico and Heli, pushing cattle

On Friday morning, Roby commented that he couldn’t be more pleased with how focused this group was – he was really proud of the work they did and how hard they studied. Every morning they would arrive at the arena and wasted no time getting right to it practicing groundwork. And at lunch and in the evenings, the dialog about horsemanship continued. Watching Roby ride his mare Daisy in the evenings, was a real treat for the guests as well (and an opportunity to see one straight up in the bridle, as a finished bridle horse). He also answered questions about the tack that is traditional for this Vaquero style of riding, explaining all the progressions of bits, hackamores and even the Bosalita. This is so much fun when you have an environment where your passion is with you 24/7. We are a lucky bunch here at the ranch and to be able to share this with all of you.

This week, the neck ropes made a return appearance! Once there is a foundation of understanding about how to use the reins (with a feel), the neck rope can be a great tool. The

Susan working on flexion with a neck rope,            riding Catman

horses will actually get softer to their riders aids because the rider has to use a feel- they will never be able to just pull on their horse and get the desired result. This is evident in the beginning (horses leading their riders around!), but quickly changes to a dance when the rider begins to use a thought process that helps the horse move his feet with timing and rhythm. On Friday, they even played soccer –using just the neck ropes! It was pretty competitive from what I heard. 🙂

All of our guests this week; Federico and his wife Heli, Michele, Ann, Susan, Tina, Vicki and Marissa, were estatic about how the week went and how much they learned. As is so often the case, some came here with some fear issues from previous bad horse experiences, and they left with new found motivation and a major gain in their confidence levels. There were a few firsts this week—first time cantering, first time posting the trot, and most definitely, first time using only a neck rope to guide a 1000 pound animal!

Cone exercises to work on various           components of horsemanship

It has been raining quite a bit here this week, and between jingling the horses in and out a few times a day, working outside cleaning up the winter pasture, and filling it in between with office work, I feel like I am in a constant state of changing clothes! I imagine snow will be here before too long, so I am grateful for the warmer temperatures we are currently enjoying.

Roby, Shayne and Des will be heading to Whitefish this weekend for Buck’s final and most advanced clinic of the year. If you are in the area, make sure you get to audit at least a little bit of it. For many of us this is a highlight of the year. I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

That is about it for now. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back Saturday night (“fall back”) and we will be back at you next week 🙂


Tina and Guess Who?

Vicki getting a very nice soft feel reaching a foot Donald Trump.


Federico and Chief working on trotting in a soft feel

Marissa and Vicki

Rachel riding Catman

Sunset- another day in paradise

The season of sunblock, T-shirts and warm weather at MMR

October 27, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 41

Hey everyone,

The weather is finally turning a bit, and starting to feel more like fall. Next week there are even snow flurries in the forecast!

Driving cattle to the scale house for weighing

Shayne and Des left on Wednesday for the Spanaway Buck clinic, and will then head over to the Whitefish clinic- the final domestic clinic on Buck’s schedule. We are all eager to see what they bring back with them for improving our skills and advancing our horses.

This week we had a variety of ability levels in the riders that joined us and Roby was able to encourage and challenge everyone to improve. Philipp and Serena were beginning riders, and they worked hard all week to understand what it takes to ride their horses with good horsemanship. By the end of the week, they were posting the trot, making cow turns and even roping from horseback! Everyone also had a chance

Sharon and Chalkeye – they got along well!

to move cattle since we had to weigh all 224 head!   Ann is new to the ranch and joining us for two weeks. She progressed nicely this week, working on straight lines, soft feel and rate.

Carolyn, Sharon, and Michele, all repeat guests, continued their journey towards advancing their riding skills. Carolyn brought her two horses Apple and Harley. It is always fun to revisit with all of them! They worked a lot of walk, trot and cantering straight lines, cow turns, and being aware of where they were going (i.e. thinking ahead!) when working patterns with 4-5 people.

Carolyn shared her thoughts on the week…”I always know the journey from Monday to Friday is going to be extraordinary and this week was no exception! The teaching kept it fresh, fun and educational! We moved cows, sorted cows, roped on horseback, improved our

Carolyn and her very cute mare Apple

cow turns, groundwork, getting our hands in time with our horse’s feet, softness and collection at all gaits, and on a loose rein. We kicked the soccer ball with our horses, had fun and friendly competitions, and I received the individual help I needed to overcome some obstacles. It is hard to spend up to 30 hours in the saddle (in one week), but it was extraordinary on all levels!”



Michele also had a fun and productive week- “The teaching, Miriam’s delicious meals, and well cared for and well trained horses keep me coming back to this beautiful ranch to improve my horsemanship. One of my biggest challenges has been keeping rate on horses that tend to fall behind my leg. Roby worked on this with me by improving my body position, and being aware of when I am losing rate, making sure I get a change. Thank you for a wonderful week!”

Michele and Benny studied hard all week

Everyone here has been busy getting ready for the impending winter… Dave has been winterizing all the vehicles and the buildings. Fences are being checked so the horse herd can be moved into the West pasture this week, and the cattle will be leaving the ranch in just a couple of weeks.

Serena and Brownie hit their stride by the end of the week.

From the West pasture, the herd will be moved to the Winter pasture, where cleanup work continues as well. Willy’s on the excavator and Anna, Scott, Nathan, Dave, Adrienne and me all have been helping cut and clean up debris. Speaking of Anna and Scott, they left yesterday for horseshoeing school in Plymouth, California! They will be at school for eight weeks and bringing back their knowledge to the ranch. We are really excited for them, and know they will put their all into it.

I’ve been getting caught up on office projects in addition to helping outside on the ranch. The winters allow us all to diversify and work in other areas than we might in the peak season. It is a really fun time of the year, and I always feel lucky when I can be outside doing physical labor!

If you would like to experience the wonder of the ranch in the wintertime, we do have a couple of spots open for winter horsemanship program. Give me a call and we can get you set up.

Have a great week ahead,


Scott and Nathan reviewing what is needed in shaping a shoe


Harley-nothing like a good roll!


Philipp came a long way this week. Here he is riding Roanie.


Miriam is filling in for Jenna while she’s at home.     The donuts did not last long 🙂


There’s a joker in every crowd. I think he likes the                                     soccer ball.


Ann, Serena and Philipp. T-shirt weather in October!!


Our intern Rachel and Paco


Photo courtesy of Anna!

And another! This girl has a talent (one of  many)  🙂


Fall season at McGinnis Meadows Ranch!

October 20, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 40

Greetings everyone,

Our guests have started their journey back home but they are still here in spirit! It was a small personable group for our last week before winter horsemanship starts. Sara and Devis have a ranch in Italy where they tend to their cattle, start colts and lead guided rides. Alida flew here from Australia and she too has a ranch back home. She offers longer riding treks where people can see the country. They all came here to improve their horsemanship skills, and that they did!

             Students Sara, Alida and Devis

Guests and interns worked on a variety of things this week and even got to ride outside a few afternoons, including moving cattle that had to be weighed. They all left with a better understanding of how to move their horse’s feet, in time and in balance. Devis got addicted to roping as well and he could be found at night practicing in the indoor arena!

Des shares with us her thoughts on the week as well…They say time flies when you’re having fun.  This season, I think we all had the most fun ever, because it seems like it flew by faster than ever!  This week marked the beginning of Winter Horsemanship.  We have been fortunate though—aside from very “crispy” mornings, the afternoons have been absolutely gorgeous!  We were riding outside in just our button up shirts, no coats and even then, it was warm!

Shayne spent a few days riding with our interns and with Sue. They worked on straightness in all gaits, swinging their ropes and tracking up on our pull-sled roping dummy, named Ugly.  Sue will be heading home for the winter.  She has a hip surgery coming up that involves an extensive recovery.  She’ll be back in the spring, fully recovered and better than ever!

                    Happy Ponies!

Now that some of their jobs duties are no longer necessary because peak season is over, many of our staff members have switched hats and our working outside.  The big project from now until the snow flies is getting our horse’s Winter Pasture as pristine as possible!  Willy is out with the excavator, cleaning the big stuff and Adrienne, Anna, Scott, Erin and Brenda have been de-limbing trees and picking up brush and cutting up downed trees.  It’s a HUGE project but everyone is working hard at it because well—we love our ponies!

Nathan and Randy have been working with Scott and Anna to get them under as many horses as possible before they head off to eight weeks of shoeing school next week!

                     Willy and the excavator 


We’re excited to have these guys start their shoeing careers with us while also advancing their horsemanship careers in the process.

Never a dull moment out here at McGinnis Meadows!

Des & Janice

                 One of the finished products


               Sara working on moving each foot with Cheech




                   Devis getting a soft back up on Twizzle


                Bringing the cattle back after weighing


                     Fall colors are still going strong


                         Wow- another fabulous creation by Miriam!


Riding, roping, and driving (cattle that is!)

October 13, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 39

This was the last week of Peak season and as we head into our horsemanship weeks, it has us reflecting on what a great season it has been. But more on that later…

Here they are!

Being a working cattle ranch, there was a lot to do this week and our guests were game to jump right in. Some had no previous cattle experience and by Wednesday they were able to head to Davis mountain to partake in a successful hunt for cattle.

Shelly, Roby and the girls

Some of the jobs that were done this week included finding the remaining 14 steers that eluded us over 7000+ acres; there were also steers that had to be moved from the Elk Creek holding pasture to the ranch, and the ones already on the ranch had to be checked on and weighed! In total 224 head were driven in some form or fashion, and we even had several unexpected visitors. A neighboring ranch’s cows and calves found there way to the ranch and our wrangler Scott noticed them on the other side of the fence in the Belgard pasture one morning. When all was said and done, they were gathered and their owners retrieved them a couple of days later!

Adrienne and Twizzle




The colors are spectacular right now both on the ranch and up higher,. The mix of the golden hay with the yellows and greens of the Aspen and Larch trees, is stunning. We even had our first appearance of snow on the mountain two mornings this week. As I glanced out the window a few minutes ago I was surprised to see it snowing quite hard- it has since stopped and the sun Is back out. Next week is forecast to be back in the high 50’s and sunny! We’ll take it 🙂

14 guests arrived at the ranch on Sunday with most of them being first timers. We had folks visiting from the Midwest, California, Washington, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico and New Zealand! Not only did they hunt for, drive, sort and weigh cattle, they learned to rope, got to observe the nuances of shoeing, had an afternoon of in-depth groundwork, and did some trail riding in the midst of the peak color.

Amanda on Cheech and Kathy on Nigel

Shelly and her family came to visit, with Shelly keen on riding her two horses who have been in training here for several months. She was joined by her three kids, Madeline, Angelina and Isabella, and her mother in law Laurie. The kids were a pleasure to be around and they are quite the riders already! Laurie (who has not ridden before), even tried her hand at it on Monday- she did great!

Intern Rachel out on a crisp and colorful morning

Kathleen and Brian stayed for a second week, and Kathleen is hooked on enough at this point, that she will be coming back in two weeks to do a month long internship! We are excited for her to have this opportunity and really look forward to having her at the ranch.

Kathy, a long time visitor, joined us again and was able to visit with her horse Romeo (also here for training). Kathy focused on riding ranch horses during her visit so she can continue to really dial in her horsemanship and be able to offer her best to Romeo when she takes him home next spring. Her favorite was Nigel, a cute chestnut who is new to the guest string this season.

With all the cattle off the mountain, Dave and Nathan were busy taking down the panels from Davis Grazing allotment, where we sometimes had put steers that needed to be brought in for doctoring. Adrienne has been very busy cleaning up the limbs from what will soon be the horse herd winter pasture.

Scott and Anna have also been busy doing a variety of different things, including continuing their shoeing education with Nathan and Randy. Scott has been jingling in the horses each morning for the latter part of the season, and I think he is happy that they now have an 8 am ETA to be brought into the holding corrals- it stays dark longer now and it is always a plus to be able to see where you are riding. Just another sign that winter will be here before you know it!

Marsha and everyone’s favorite, Bandit!

As for the reflections I alluded to earlier, this peak season has been filled with the opportunity to meet many great people who spend their vacations with us. It is amazing how friendships can blossom within one week. We were blessed with no nearby fires that caused us any anxiety, even though the season was a dry one. The rains have started coming with more frequency now and for that we are grateful

The team here at McGinnis really had fun all season and worked hard to ensure that horses stayed happy and healthy, guest’s expectations were not only met but exceeded, and they expanded their horizons doing different things on the ranch. Sue did a great job out at graze this summer, along with Jenna, Brenda, Scott and Roby –yes, even Roby got to ride out this year, (usually he is riding client horses in the arena) and he made the most of it. Anna and Scott, as you know, have also been learning a new trade as farriers and they are coming along really well. While we are sad to see this part of the season end, we are very excited to be delving into a focus of horsemanship now. If you would like more as well, or want to check it out for the

Trudi and Amigo

first time, we have a few spots available for winter horsemanship. As long as the weather holds here, we will continue to ride outside- this upcoming week looks stellar! And thinking ahead, Thanksgiving week is really special at the ranch. Ride in horsemanship all day, everyday, and come in on Thanksgiving for a home cooked meal with all the trimmings made by Miriam :-).  Just two spots remaining for that week…Give me a call for more information or to reserve a spot. Space is limited. (406) 293-5000.

Until next week,

Can’t beat this view

Heading home


Brian, Adrienne and Kathleen taking in the color

October 6, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 38

The search for cattle and other things at McGinnis Meadows…

This past week we continued the search for cattle on Davis mountain.

Cattle drives

There are 14 remaining up there and the rest of the steers are content munching hay in the ranch meadows.

So, there were several trips to get the cattle moved- hunt for them on Davis Mountain, gather, lose them on occasion, regather, then push them on to the Elk Creek holding pasture.

Then, typically the next day, a group would either go back to Davis to hunt for more, or go to Elk Creek to drive them all the way back to the ranch. Currently the ranch cattle are in two of our north pieces. There were also weighing days, and the cattle were picked up in groups of 50 from the meadows, driven to the scale house, weighed and brought back to their respective meadows.

Something a little different were  “wrangler challenges” this week. Mid week, Roby gave each wrangler and their groups of guests a specific route to move the cattle. This had to be done without mixing groups, and required a good understanding of the best way to get to each gate, water crossing, etc, with minimal stress on the cattle.

Another was to move a group of cattle with the guests and not give any directions to each other all the way to their destination- with just a point person leading the way. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? The reason for this exercise? It requires a feel to move cattle and really gets everyone thinking ahead and being aware of what is happening around them. The guests in this exercise did awesome- they got the cattle through some sticky spots, maneuvered around and through timber, kept them contained in places the cattle wanted to spill, and did the entire trip with no words! It made for a really fun and rewarding end to the week.

There were 16 guests this week with Neville and Lisa riding their own personal horses

Kim and her horse Cotton

Their horses did great and they got to take them out to graze, move cattle around the ranch and do some horsemanship along the way!

We had a mixed group of repeat guests and those that were here for the first time. Wayne stayed another week, couples Sharon and Bill, Amy and Scott, and Kathleen and Brian returned for more fun with cattle. Travis, Lisa, Tom and Nancy ( cousins) made the trip to fulfill a wish  that was on their bucket list. They did great and said they had a blast. Friends Alex and Arnold visited too, and you would never know at the end of the week that they had arrived with limited riding experience. They were sorting cattle, chasing renegade steers and driving them like pros! Tanya was visiting us all the way from Martinque! She liked having a mix of horsemanship on the trail and cattle work.

Wayne riding Jasper through the meadows!

The colors were so vibrant this week, especially in the meadows with all of the Aspens. Up high on the mountain, guests also got to see the changes each day, it seemed, with reds, greens, yellows and orange leaves leading the way. Combined with the crisp mornings, and clear days, it was ‘picture perfect’ for riding.

Throughout all of this we all continue to work on our horsemanship skills, searching for things in this realm as well. Are we paying enough attention to what the horse is telling us? Are we feeling things they are presenting and giving back, or are we forcing things to happen? This becomes especially challenging (and rewarding) when working outside of the arena where other distractions are plentiful. Shayne is always trying to get us to be aware of our surroundings, ride with good horsemanship while getting a job done- whether it be teaching guests or herding cattle. Either way if gets you better as a horseman when you begin to get good at multi-tasking!

Sharon, Amy, Scott and Wayne

Next week is the last week before entering into our horsemanship program. We have some last minute openings throughout October, and still have a few spots remaining this winter for people looking to tune up and improve their riding skills. Contact Janice for more info- these spots won’t last long! 406-293-5000,

Happy Trails,




Bill and Brian herding cattle



Janice and Brian Holding the herd

Moose Pond visit

                                             Fall colors!