The Highline Blog

Exciting news at McGinnis Meadows Ranch!

March 23, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 12


Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush. —Doug Larson

It’s WARM AGAIN!!!!!  I mean, we hit a new high this year of 54 today.  Compared with -35 a couple weeks ago, that is quite toasty and it feels oh-so-good!

We’ve actually been getting a little bit warm inside our indoor arena and rode this afternoon with the doors up.  We could have ridden outside if the ground was good.  Shayne was thinking ahead though, and he had our friend Chris Noble, (who owns an excavating business) use one of his big loaders to haul out truckloads of snow.  I mean…there was a mountain of it!

And…Shayne finally told me I can break this news to everyone who hasn’t heard about it…

We are in the process of building a BRAND NEW, state of the art, indoor arena riding facility!  The new arena/building is 130×250 feet!  It will have two incredible tack rooms, heated horse pens, custom sound system, custom overhead watering system, warm in winter, cool in summer, mirrors, top-notch footing—not to mention diagonals that would make any horseman or woman swoon ;). If you know Shayne, you know that he cut no corners on this one.

Shayne has been working out of our old indoor arena for 20 years!  He (and the rest of us) are ready for the upgrade.  As you can see from the pics, there is still plenty of work to be done, but we are well on our way.  The facility should be completed by early fall.  I can’t wait!

Of course, the new facility will require more horse pastures, lots of fencing, de-limbing, and some minor land clearing.  Our ranch hand crew is going to be pretty busy this year!

Ok…back to this week…

Bethany and Scotch

We had two guests this week.  Jade is still in high school but she has a passion for horses and convinced her parents to drop her off for the week.  Bethany is a doctor who lives in Kalispell, so we are hoping to start seeing her at the ranch more often now that she’s gotten her feet wet!  Both ladies truly gave it their best, even though they were challenged in new ways daily.

Our interns, Casey, Allie and Tina were superb.  It was a unique opportunity because all three of them started on the same date a few weeks ago and all learned the exact same things and had many of the same struggles.  All three of them have had major breakthroughs in their riding and in their own personal journeys.

We decided to have the interns help us to teach the guests, as well as our newest intern, McKenzie.  What was so fun to watch, was how they taught the same material that only a week or two prior, they might have struggled on.  Because of this, and because they learned how to apply the methods and succeed at the exercises, they had a really good feel as to how to teach it.  It was pretty amazing how far they had come in such a short time.  The guests couldn’t fathom that our interns had been dealing with the same challenges only a week or two prior.  That’s how quickly a person can get better when they work hard and have the right attitude in this horsemanship program!

Jade and Boone

Shayne thought that this was his best teaching week ever.  He’s certainly coming up with some great ways to teach the material in ways that maintains the integrity of the horses’ foundation—whether the rider on their back is green or advanced.  It’s all about ORCA—Observe. Remember. Compare. Adjust.

In other news, Dave has been keeping the ranch running smoothly behind the scenes.  He kindly scrapes away the slush each afternoon that can create some nasty, icy ruts on the lodge driveway in the morning!  He and Randy are always working together to make sure water is running, heaters are working and machinery is in it’s best working order.  Dave has really become an asset at the ranch and always goes above and beyond in learning new material and expanding his knowledge of material he already knows well.

Adrienne has been managing all of our deep cleaning this winter, and is getting the ranch prepared for the upcoming season.  She’s been a huge asset to Janice in the office as well!  She’s excited to take on some new roles of more “ranch hand” type work in addition to regular duties this season.  She’s can weld, drive a tractor and is pretty mechanically inclined.  Plus, she loves being outdoors.  But then…who doesn’t when you live out here?

Our newest intern McKenzie doing a great job of focusing with Chief.

Jenna has been keeping everyone’s bellies full of yummy food as well as hustling through getting saddles cleaned.  She’s also been an asset to Adrienne with the deep cleaning with any extra time she has.

Speaking of cooks…Miriam is excited to be coming back as our lead cook in April!  Between now and then, she’s going to be traveling the world surfing!  Is there anything this woman can’t do?

Anna and Scott are taking the weekend to attend a shoeing clinic hosted by our Vet Clinic in Kalispell.  Dr. Genovese is really excited to be working with these two, and we have the utmost confidence in their ability to maintain our herd.

Sue is finally going to be making her way back to the ranch next month.  She had an extensive hip surgery and spent the winter recovering in California with her family.  Good thing, because snow, ice and hip injuries just wouldn’t mix out here!  We are looking forward to her coming back home.

Last but not least, Janice and I will be going over our fall 2019 and full 2020 schedule this weekend!  We have some really exciting weeks and clinics coming up.  You’ll hear all about it soon!

Till next time,


Des ground working Cookie

Casey riding her horse Firestone

Close up of the new indoor arena!

Allie is finishing up her internship this weekend. She says she’ll be back!

Omar’s silhouette- He’s almost too tall to fit under the roll up door 🙂

McGinnis Meadows Ranch Welcomes the Spring

Well, it seemed like it would never happen…but the big Spring Thaw has arrived! When I mean big, I mean, the potentially biggest spring

                 Spring is almost in the air

thaw that Shayne and Randy say that they’ve seen in YEARS. For it to make more sense, you’d have to know that less than a week ago, the lows were still in the negative double digits. And we have had a LOT of snow this year…so…much…snow! Now, the temps are in the high 40s and hitting into the high 50s by mid-week! But, the ground underneath is still frozen. So where will the water go?

Dave is ready to dig trenches where needed. Snow has been pulled away from buildings. We have lots of big equipment on hand to help as needed. As for me…I might trade in my snow-shoes for my paddle board when traveling from the house to the arena in the mornings!

I know that it might be a sloppy mess here for a couple weeks, but I’ve got to say, these temps are sure good for the soul. I’ve never been so happy to see small patches of asphalt peeking through the snow-packed county road, or widening tree wells or especially, the sounds of birds singing again!

I’m also so happy about everything that we worked on in the arena this week. My head is still spinning from the amount of info, the feel it took to apply it and the changes seen in so many horses (and humans, too!)

We had a couple of guests reschedule, so this week riding it was just Shayne, me, Janice and our interns, Casey, Tina and Allie. All three interns had just come off of the advanced 10-day clinic and had a great foundation going already. Janice did not ride in the clinic, but she

                         Tina & Bob

was present for a large portion of it assisting in any way she could, and soaking up lots of knowledge. Because of this, Shayne and I were able to pick-up right where we left off in the 10-day. Rather than start from scratch, we told everyone to get to work doing what they had learned already.

These ladies are SUCH good students! They went straight to groundwork and covered all of their bases. In the riding, they revisited riding with a flag to help turn their bodies. We decided to ride with neck-ropes one day and they all did stellar.

I’m pretty sure Janice had her very best riding week EVER. Shayne and I were so happy with how she progressed on her horses. She discovered how much she could get done with her hips! Lots of people struggle to engage their hips properly when riding and to get their bodies loosened up so they can turn and not be stiff. Janice has struggled with this (as have I!) and this week we found the magic combo to help her find them a’horseback. As teachers, sometimes you have to think outside the box…the same as you would with horses. We are soooo happy for her and her progress!

We are also VERY happy with this current intern crew! These ladies have demonstrated a feel above and beyond what we’ve seen before. Each day, they come at the horses from their hearts. Although they are learning and could very easily get lost in the mechanical

                        Allie & Booker

aspect of this—they don’t. They have already learned the importance of patience, creativity and feel. And that at the end of the day, it’s what your horse thinks of YOU that matters the most. All of their horses improved by leaps and bounds this week.

And where would these horses be without the other people who work behind the scenes to keep them at their best? This week, with Anna on vacation, Scott has taken on the trimming/shoeing full time. I absolutely love it that he understands the value of teamwork and enlists the help of Brenda or even our interns in holding a horse who is a little unsure. Scott has a really nice, quiet way around the horses (and by the way, he’s an ambidextrous farrier)! He and Anna have really got these horse’s feet looking great.

And Brenda…where would we be without her keeping a constant eye on the herd? Rain, freezing cold or slush—she’s out there every day keeping tabs on her “babies.” On a given day she’s doctoring eyes, cuts, checking for rain rot, giving supplements, wrapping horses, noticing things that most people wouldn’t even see. Finding potential issues and fixing them before they become one. She is a true gem of a woman and the horses adore her.

Well, I’d better wrap this up! I need to make time to ride some ponies and go on a slushy snow-shoe with the pooch.

Till next time!



Des & Brownie


Hi from the gang


Casey & Levi


Just hanging out


Des & Angel


Feed time!


Horsemanship outside the box- McGinnis Meadows style!

March 7, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 10

Wow, this past couple weeks has been a nonstop, fun-filled horsemanship ride!

Rey finishes his internship tomorrow- he has come along way in just one month!

As I write this on Thursday evening, we have just finished up our very first 10-Day, Invitation-Only Horsemanship Clinic.  Guests are heading home tomorrow morning chock-full of knowledge, new tools, a new feel and lots of creative insights.

The day before the clinic started, we invited guests to come in early so that they could watch us ride all of the horses we would be using during the 10-day event.  We also rode through a couple of our personal horses, as well as a few ranch horses who are in our personal string to be re-ridden until they are really shiny again 🙂

Because we planned on starting the guests this week in halters, we rode all of their horses in halters for them to watch.  Although we only had one rein, we demonstrated the ability to do hind and front, walk, trot and canter on course, on a loose rein and maintain proper flexion.

This group, for lack of better words, would be our guinea pigs to an experiment Shayne was working on.  He wanted to see how well the horses we had ridden could be maintained, and even advanced with the guests based on the structure of how we taught, how slow we went and how refined the movements were.

Joy was really getting Max soft and balanced by the end of the day

We did quite a bit of groundwork in preparation for riding.  We covered SO MUCH STUFF in the groundwork!  The “standard” groundwork (i.e., hind, front, united circles).  We also worked on focusing on maintaining a larger bubble with the horses, going so far as to get all groundwork done at the very end of the lead rope.  Guests were able to reach all four feet and hang them in the air separately.  We did groundwork with flags, with tarps and with giant horse-sized soccer balls!  Guests watched demos on bridling tough horses, introducing horses to ropes, and really studying nuances of balance in footfall.

In our riding, we began with one-rein work.  Because it’s so tantalizingly tempting to grab for two-reins in a snaffle, (even when only attempting to work with one-rein), Shayne just eliminated the temptation to pull on two by just giving the guests one-rein—the halter and lead rope!  Of course we rode with them in the same fashion.  Guests learned how to maintain flexion while riding circles and straight lines.

Chief and Lauren working on a feel and getting a horse around different objects. BIG horse, Big jolly ball!

Then we gave them their snaffles and reins—with one caveat…. For the first day in the snaffle, they had to hold a flag with the shaft in in-between their reins.  In this way, they had to keep wide hands and learn how to avoid pulling.  They learned to ride serpentines, straight lines, get a soft feel, stop and back-up.  Because their hands were set wide, it forced the riders to really focus on turning their bodies when in circles, staying even on the straight lines and being more subtle in their seat position in forward-stop-back up transitions. 

From there, we took their flags away and they finally got to ride with reins “like normal.”  Except now, everything had a greater meaning.  There wasn’t mindless pulling and kicking because the refinement had been learned beforehand.  We spent some time working on getting the horses very soft at the standstill in lateral and longitudinal flexion, then incorporated it into contests in which guests divided into two groups and picked winners from each group on quality of soft feel with rate and straightness.  This continued into the last day, with trotting soft feels and walk/trot/canter transitions.

Carolyn and Brumby using the flag to find seat position

Somehow in all of this, we found time for a good ol’ match of horse soccer!  Guests also learned cow turns, learned about riding in “neutral” flexion, reaching feet and…I can go on and on.  Although I am talking about activities and movements, what we stressed all week was “feel with creativity.”  We talked about ways we would address different issues that were particular to the horse were were on.  We challenged the guests to watch their horses feet and expression in the groundwork and to really feel for their balance when horseback.  We challenged the guests to study their horse and their own movements in order to answer some of their own questions.  We challenged them to think outside the box in working with horses—always staying true to the foundation of what we are taught but realizing that there is more feel than mechanics involved when advancing in horsemanship knowledge.

In 10-days, a lot of changes can occur in a horse.  The guests also had a great opportunity to watch Shayne and I re-ride through a few guest horses who needed some TLC and fine tuning.  We also made a point to ride our personal horses at lunchtime and I rode through some client horses.  Each horse was at a different level and we spoke freely about what we were feeling and why we were working on certain movements at certain times.  I think that doing this was one of the most insightful learning experiences for the guests over the 10-day clinic.

Shayne working with bandit to develop a feel without the use of a halter

This group of guests were amazing—as were our four current interns!  Each person showed an intense love of learning, love of horses and love of this way of working with them.  After 10 full days, everyone was still giving 100% and wanting to glean more and more insight!  They always kept their horses in mind—even if something

How many things can you think of to expose your horse to?

got fast and maybe some things fell apart—they knew where to go to fix it up for the horse to keep them on the winning end of things.

I’m so thankful to have spent time with all of these guys.  I’m thankful that Shayne graciously allows and encourages me to teach alongside him and to take over the class at times.  I’m especially thankful for Janice’s help this week—she missed a LOT of time in the office helping us to get the day rolling, grab horses, manage the arena, help guests and take videos and pics.  We couldn’t have done it without her!  Of course, we also had lots of help from our team—Anna, Scott, Brenda and Jenna.

Speaking of staff, Jenna will be embarking on a new chapter in her life- she will be going back to help on her family’s ranch and will be taking lots of knowledge with her to continue her study of horsemanship. We’ve loved having her here and watching all the progress she has made with her horse Shadow! We wish her all the best. Jenna’s departure opens up a position for a continental breakfast cook/baker from May- October here at MMR. Baking skills preferred. Send anyone you know that might be interested to me (Des) at

Early in the clinic, temps dropped to -35!  By the last day, we were up to +40!  It seems that we are finally ringing in springtime!  Wish us luck…there’s a LOT, I mean a LOT, of snow that’s going to be melting these next few weeks!  In no time we may be working on kayaking and stand-up paddling in the meadows! 

Beautiful sunrise

That’s OK with me!  We are all ready for some warmth, sunshine, shedding ponies and green sprouts poking out through the snowmelt.

Have a great weekend everyone!


*P.S. If you have been a previous guest of ours and wish to focus on more intensive horsemanship, our next 10-day clinic from April 21st-May 2nd, 2019 still has a couple openings!  We would love for you to join us!

is it my turn? Des’ horse Tucker

What a great group of interns we have here. l to R: Rey, Allie, Tina and Casey

Montana Horsemanship -Ten Days of learning at McGinnis Meadows…

Intern Tina and Brumby.

March 2, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 9

Greetings everyone

As I write this we are in the midst of our first ever Ten-day horsemanship clinic here at MMR.

Ten days in succession gives riders the chance to work towards more advanced concepts, and to help retrain any bad habits that may have developed over the years. These guests have all been here before and have an understanding of Buck’s methods and terminology so progress is made by leaps and bounds!

Karmen, former intern came back for a guest visit!

We also have three new interns that arrived at the beginning of this week. Tina, Allie and Casey are getting to dive right in with this clinic format and it should really jumps start their learning. They will all be here for one month.

There is a lot of snow here at the ranch. It is hard to believe it is March already. There are some glimpses that spring may be approaching, even if ever so slowly. The sun is getting more direct and it gets and stays lighter these days. The birds can be heard singing in the trees as well, and yup, you guessed it, the horses are starting to shed their winter coats!

Winter sure is beautiful at the ranch though and the photo ‘opps’ are spectacular right now.  Winter is also when staff takes their well -deserved vacations and we just welcomed Brenda back from hers this week. She hopped right back in with the horse doctoring and supplementing and all the other things she does so well at the ranch. It is good to have her back! Scott is back as well, and Dave and Adrienne have just left y go back home visiting with their family in PA. Everyone here pitches in to cover ranch duties when someone is away so it never really feels like a hardship. It is always nice to see everyone come back refreshed and ready to jump into the new season.

Class in session

With the luxury of ten days to teach, Shayne and Des have been focusing on groundwork early on, and guests have been riding in halters to really get the feel of one rein work. It is amazing how much feel a person can develop doing this, if they are willing to really study the horse’s balance. When they do get back into the bridle the riders legs have a lot more meaning and their hands work independently of one another in a more meaningful way to the horse.

Today we brought out the “soccer” balls! Introducing this to the horse we first approach it from the ground, like anything new. Once under saddle, it is familiar to them and there is a less chance of them getting troubled.

Carolyn and Roanie working on a feel.

The horses really get to liking it- it is a nice break for them from the normal drywork and they get so curious about it. It gives them confidence once they know they can move it!

The clinic will run through next Friday so we expect there will be a lot more progress and understanding taking part in the arena. We will keep you updated J

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Simply go to . Once you are at the newsletter you will see a link at the top right that says “join email list”. You’ll then automatically receive it each month!

Happy trails,



Shayne And Martha demonstrating how rein management affects your horse’s mouth

Des, showing a groundwork exercise with a client horse Angel- how light can you be?

Lauren and Max

Joy on Max doing one rein work

Well Hello!


It’s all about the feel and balance.

Horsemanship fun and games at McGinnis Meadows Ranch


February 23, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 8

Hey everyone,

It was a busy week here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch!

Full moon rising

Brenda and Scott have been on a well-deserved vacation so Anna has been filling in doctoring and supplementing the herd, and of course continuing to trim feet! Scott will return tomorrow and we are sure Yellowhair (his horse) will be looking for him. The whole crew– Dave, Erin, Jenna, and Adrienne have also been filling in as needed- teamwork abounds and it is very cool to see it all in motion.

In horsemanship this week, guests were introduced to things that would help their seat and feel. Riding in halters (we’ll explain why further down!), ground exercises, how to introduce the flag and tarp to a horse and the famous soccer ball were just a few of them…

Riding in a halter here at the ranch is a way to learn how to have your seat and legs have more meaning. As Buck says, you can’t fix a troubled horse by pulling on two reins. Troubled is relative, as it could mean a horse that lacks confidence, or something as subtle as a change in expression through a movement. Riding in a halter also means you get good at being handy with the lead rope because the lead is not tied around to the halter on the other side. You are riding purely with one rein only, and need to get efficient at flipping the lead over your horses head when changing direction.

Des riding client horse Angel in the halter. Notice the softness in the lead.

Without the ability to pull on two reins, you really have to figure out how to get your horse working off of your legs and seat. In the beginning you may feel like a boat without a rudder, but as your seat gets dialed in, the horse really responds to it.

Our guests this week also learned to ride with a feel- where is the horse’s shoulder, are they pushing to one side or the other, changing rate without the rider asking, or dropping their head and front end down through transitions?

They learned how to make corrections in all of these scenarios and their horses became softer and more responsive as the week progressed.

Coincidently, all of our guests were from Utah this week. Ryan and Laura drove in to ride with us. Shayne had Ryan focusing on his seat position and he went from wanting to tip forward through movements, to being able to ride tall in the saddle. It was also something special to see how his feel developed in such a short time. His guest horses Booker and scotch were loving life! His wife Laura also make great progress. By the end of the week she had Roanie so soft that all she had to do was think the move with her body and he was responding to the lightest touch!

Kevin on Brumby

Evelyn and Kevin have been studying Buck’s methods for awhile now and were excited to come to the ranch to learn more. Kevin’s seat improved dramatically through the week and Evelyn worked hard at finding her center of balance while using her legs, changing direction, and getting her horse to walk out.

Lynn, our repeat guest, joined us for another week. Shayne had Lynn and all the guests working on an exercise where he would groundwork the horse on a circle with the rider on his back. They would be able to get the feel of shifting their legs, turning their hips and body to change direction without having to worry about directing their horse. Once they had the idea, these positions transferred over nicely and became more engrained in their riding.

On Friday, halters were replaced with bridles. Ryan commented that he didn’t even think about his hands because of all of the riding he had done in the halter. The reins were more for refinement at this point, because his horse was working well off of his legs. All of the guests were excited about how they could put all the elements they had learned through the week, to culminate with seeing how it can be applied to get a job done. For example, when the soccer ball came out it was easy for them to center their horse so a punt could be made!

Ryan and Laura (far left) were great students! The sign says it all.

At the end of Friday, we unsaddled the horses but before putting them out, guests had a chance to learn how to introduce a flag and tarp to a horse. Ryan and Laura have several horses at home that they will be working with, including some younger ones, so they were really keen to see the progressions. They observed the “do’s and don’ts” and went about working their horses through all of the movements. They even learned how to do the 180 groundwork exercise! All in all it was a fantastic way to end the week.

Shayne with Lynn and Boone, demonstrating from the ground how to use the rider’s legs and seat on a circle

Next week will be a busy one as well. We start our first ever ten-day clinic here and have 6 guests and 4 interns joining us! Ten days will enable riders to be exposed to even more progressions and movements so we are pretty excited about this!

If you are looking for more ways to study this style of horsemanship with like-minded people, we have a couple of spots open for spring and fall horsemanship. And, as luck would have it, we had a cancellation for Buck’s July clinic here at MMR so if this is something you have on your bucket list, give me a call. (406) 293-5000 or email

Happy Trails,


Evelyn riding Chaos with a nice feel.

The boys

Laura getting a nice walk with flexion

The view is always amazing

McGinnis Meadows Ranch Valentines week


February 16, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 7

Hey everyone,

Have you checked out the video on the McGinnis Meadows Facebook page of the snow “avalanche” off the game room roof? It’s worth watching just to hear Anna and Dave’s reaction. 🙂

Malone looking handsome

The weather seems to be the topic all over the country lately. We have quite a bit of snow on the ground right now. It makes for a bit of extra plowing and shoveling but boy, our guests this week really took advantage of it. Hannah, and her kids Flora and Clem are avid xc skiers. They brought their gear with them and could be seen skiing through the meadows after a full day of riding!

Speaking of riding, what a great week it was. We had family of four join us again with their own horses, (John being the husband and dad of the skiing clan), and many times repeat guest Lynn, here with us.

I asked them what there favorite part of the week was. Clem and Flora really liked the detail in the groundwork. Flora specifically liked working on getting her horse on a united circle and more forward on the circle. Clem and Clover, and Flora and Cache really made nice progress throughout the week. Flora also focused on feeling the life in her hips and improving Cache’s left flexion. It seemed to be working because Friday afternoon she was riding all over the arena using just her legs.

Lynn really liked riding different horses this week. She had never ridden our ranch horses Scotch or Boone before and she had a blast with both of them!

Lynn and Boone

Shayne and Des focused a lot on groundwork this week in part, to help the horses through some trouble spots. Shorty would get afraid of things like the rollup arena door, and had some tight spots leading up. Shayne explained how these spots can lead to a horse pulling back. Well, by the end of the week, Shorty was a changed horse. His demeanor was so much calmer and the rollup door could go up and down all day long and he didn’t even flinch! While Shorty was getting his lessons, Des worked with Cache, Flora’s horse with groundwork and Flora got to feel the difference it can make.

We had a new intern join us this week too. Rey hails from NYC, and has just finished up a job working on ships that support the US Navy. He has sailed all around the world. He found his love of horses after he saw a documentary about prisoners working with wild mustangs. He has also been a safari guide and rode on a safari reserve with giraffes and zebras! He has been riding for one year and is hungry to improve his

Rey riding Chaos

horsemanship. He’ll be with us for one month and we look forward to seeing him progress.

There have been recent Trouble, Sophie and Lily sightings (these are our ranch cats in case you haven’t met them yet!) and they are faring very well despite the cold and snow. Every once in awhile you might get a surprise when you open up the game room door to find Trouble lounging on the chair. He is really good at sneaking inside, and then with a yawn acts like “What? I am just trying to get some sleep!

They do have nice cozy fleece beds to keep them comfortable in the Antler room and on the porch, but who can blame him for giving the indoors his best shot?

Jenna has been outdoing herself with meals and amazing desserts. Every day there are treats galore and so very creative! Don’t come here expecting to be on or stay on a diet. 🙂

Dave and Anna have been doing a lot of shoveling, and plowing to keep ahead of things here this week.

All that snow!

I saw a post recently that mentioned the cold is really the least of the issues when you work on a farm or a ranch. What challenges you are the “little” things- frozen gate latches, frozen water tubs, equipment that won’t start and even walking through thigh high snow to get chores done…now that will test your mettle sometimes. But the plus side is a great opportunity to take in the beauty that surrounds you in winter white. The horses in all their furriness, the elk, the snow-laden trees, are all just beautiful this time of year, if we remember to take time to see them.

Here’s wishing you a fun week ahead.

Happy trails,


What a character that Trouble is! Clem and Flora thought he was pretty cool.

Flora and her horse Cache, working on timing up with the feet

Clem and Clover doing groundwork

Shorty says hi

Conditions are great for some xc skiing! Flora, Hannah and Clem.

Wow- what can you say? Cake by Jenna


McGinnis Meadows Ranch Travels to Seattle!

February 9, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 6

Greetings everyone,

Shayne working with one of the unit’s horses

This week Shayne and I had the opportunity to head to Seattle to work with the Seattle Mounted Police and their horses.  Over the course of this past year, the Mounted Unit has undergone some major changes—the most important one is that they have adopted the Buck Brannaman style of horsemanship as the basis of their program.  This could have only been done by the hard work of a passionate officer named Stephan and with Shayne and Buck’s support.

Shayne has become the official “Consultant” for the program, and is in charge of making sure the program transforms from being almost absolved from lack of success and consistency to becoming the best Mounted Unit in the country!

Matt riding Blu. The horses were introduced to a variety of things during this visit.

Already, with the dedication of the officers, the Chief and Assistant Chief of Police, the Police Foundation, the program has changed dramatically.  Facilities are improved, officers are on board with the horsemanship, additional horses have been purchased and horses who were already at the Unit are becoming confident and successful with the introduction of great horsemanship.

Shayne has already had several officers at the ranch with their police horses for training several times over the last year (and with more visits scheduled)!  This was our first visit working with the horses at their own facility.  It’s so amazing to see how many of these horses have already turned the corner since adopting this new philosophy of horsemanship.  Stephan, Amy, Matt and Brandon are the Unit riders and are all working hard to improve their own horsemanship.  All of them were green riders coming into the Unit, but are now well on their way because of their dedication to this!

The deer are always looking for a free handout!

Shayne and I worked with each of them and worked with individual horses.  They have one new police horse who just needs more exposure but who has a great start.  Some of the other horses had old demons that we worked through with great success.  They even had a new pony that I was able to spend some time working with!  His name is Buzz and I instantly fell in love 🙂

Stephan and Matt will be joining us for an extended clinic week at the ranch in April and they plan on bringing nearly all of the Unit’s horses with them!  Then in May, Shayne and I will head back to the Seattle facility (with our own horses this time) to work with the officers, do a demo with them and the riders for the general public, and then head out horseback into the city with our horses and theirs to offer support to the horses and riders in Real Time.  I’m so excited!

Stay tuned for news of the success of this Unit.  The Chief of Police wants this Unit to become the best in the country and it is Shayne’s mission to make that goal a reality—through hard work, Buck Brannaman horsemanship and the teamwork of the Unit.   Des

Lyne and Andy

In other ranch news this week, we had Lyne continuing her training on her horse Andy. The two of them are getting along famously and Lyne couldn’t be happier about the relationship she has with her horse now.

Brooke joined us too. She has been a guest many times as well as an intern, and she is always ready to absorb more information to improve her riding skills. Even though she is only able to ride when she is at the ranch, she works hard and always brings her A game- and it shows in her progress!

Pasture work continues as weather allows. It has been cold here with negative temps but weather is expected to warm up a bit next week. When the temps do drop we keep a close eye on the herd to monitor their weights, and general appearance. The horses are good at hunkering down in the trees if it is snowing and they love running around and playing when there is a cushion of snow on the ground!

Everyone is busy preparing for our next group of guests heading in – it is crazy how fast this winter is moving. A part of me wants the summer weather to get here, but at the same time, McGinnis Meadows is just beautiful this time of year.

Have a great week ahead and we will  be back with you next week!


Lyne was all smiles this week.

Big Omar loves the snow!

Brooke riding Chalkeye

Shayne and Des. Des fell in love with Buzz!

Stephan riding his police horse Monty, when he was at MMR this summer.

Brad, Shayne, Amy and Matt with Stephan in front.

Beauty abounds at McGinnis Meadows any time of the day or night.

McGinnis Meadows Ranch happenings

February 2, 2019 – Volume 14 – Issue 5

Greetings everyone,

Another beautiful morning

It was actually “balmy” here this week with temps in the 30’s, which made for some nice sunrises and sunsets.

We enjoyed the company of several repeat guests and one  friend that joined them. Laurie, Pattie, Lyne, Marisa and Robin rode under Roby’s tutelage for the beginning of the week and then Shayne joined them on Thursday and Friday.

By Friday, the guests were trotting around the arena doing circles, serpentines and straight lines, guiding their horses all with their legs only. It was impressive! The winter horsemanship program has really gone to the next level this season with our guests working through more advanced movements while keeping their horses soft and alive.

Erin and Dave have been busy cutting firewood for the staff houses this week and that has been keeping them pretty busy. Anna and Scott continue to keep the horses feet looking good.

Robin and Benny working on rate and flexion

Now that we have a fair amount of snow on the ground to help cushion, the horses can be frequently seen throughout the day, running around with tails up in the air, having fun out in their pastures!

Pattie’s boyfriend Konrad, also joined us this week. Although he doesn’t ride, he loves adventures and was out everyday snowshoeing and hiking all over the ranch and adjoining mountains. It looked like he was having a blast!

Staff has been having fun too, not only during the day, but in the evenings there might be 4- 6 of us riding in the arena, working on many of the same things the guests do during the day. You can never study this enough and the sky is the limit to what you can learn.

Adrienne and her horse Felix

Sometimes we’ll practice roping, dallying and slipping rope, other times, it’s follow the leader. When you are trying to mimic someone exactly in timing, spacing and what they are doing at any given moment, it really lets you see if there are holes to work on!  No matter what we are doing, it is great to be surrounded by people who have the same goals and drive.


Hard to believe it is February already! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and time is running out to take advantage of our “Besties” offer :-). It’s only valid through Feb 14th so give us a call to find out more about it!

Grazing ponies

Our next newsletter the MMR “Ranch Ramblings” will be sent out next week. If you are not currently on the list to receive it, contact Janice @ and we will get you signed up!

Happy Trails,


Pattie and her lovely horse Ike

Konrad and the kitties got along great!

That feels good!

Konrad’s view while he was out snowshoeing on the ranch

Marisa and Brumby

Roanie is just so cute

Shadow taking advantage of the sunshine

Fun in the Snow at McGinnis Meadows Ranch


January 26, 2019 – Volume 14 – Issue 4

Greetings everyone!

Winter is definitely here at McGinnis Meadows.  Dave has been busy making snow piles and shoveling paths to get around the lodge.  However, the locals tell me that this is an unusual warm winter with temperatures in the upper 30’s.  It sure does make some pretty icicles off the buildings, dripping during the day and freezing at night.

As most of you have seen, the elk herd is getting more comfy out in the winter pasture. Dave and Erin say that they don’t even run now a

Elk Herd 2019

days when the feed truck goes through.  So, I don’t have to bust out the camouflage to get a good picture.

Even this week’s guest, GG, is enjoying the snow.  Since, GG was staying two weeks with us, she took

Snow Kitty

advantage of the snow last Saturday and made herself a snow cat, complete with whiskers.

GG has enjoyed being the only pupil this week.  Learning a great deal of things from Roby.  Jenna taught some too at the beginning of the week.  GG said she was much more focused this week than last. She has gained much confidence in understanding and planning ahead before the movement occurs to be clearer in what she is asking of the horse.  Doing the movement with more quality then just going through the motions.  Roby had her opening and closing gates on the horse.  He even had her roping off a horse.  She said with a laugh afterward… that she found muscles she hasn’t used in awhile or even knew that existed.  Along with the great experience with horsemanship, GG has made a lot of good friends at the ranch.  She enjoyed the laughs at lunch, learning about everyone’s stories, and sharing her own.  GG can’t wait to come back for a third visit to the ranch in the near future.

Roby & GG

We like when our friends return year after year just as much as we look forward meeting new ones.  Don’t forget that we are running our Valentine’s Special through February 14th.  This is a really good deal if you are looking to come to the ranch for a visit this year.  If you want to know about it give Janice or Adrienne a call (406-293-5000) and we can give you the low down.

Happy Trails,








Roby & Jasper


Bud Bock


GG & Benny


Out for a walk about


GG & Chalkeye


Roby & Britches


GG Learning to Rope on Chalkeye

Laughter & Friendships at McGinnis Meadows Ranch

January 19, 2019 – Volume 14 – Issue 3

Greetings everyone!

More fresh fluffy snow has descended upon us this week.  It was incredible to be there while the horses were jingled in the morning after the snow fall and there wasn’t a sound to be heard, as if I was watching an old time silent movie.  It was a sight to experience.

Jenna working with GG

This week we had five guest join us. Roby had them going through the paces from walking, trotting, and little cantering in there too.  Wrangler/winter cook Jenna stopped out to the arena to lend a hand a couple of afternoons this week.

Calvin is new to the ranch from California.  Seeing the snow was cool experience for him, something he doesn’t see everyday from where he comes from.  He enjoyed the individual attention that was given as the group worked through learning the different aspects of horsemanship.  Calvin especially like the experience of “hooking on” with a horse.  He said it was pretty amazing week all around.

Calvin & Roanie

GG joined us last summer and decided to hop the ocean from France to continue what she started for a couple of weeks.  She like that she could experience riding different horses.  GG hopes to ride some of those horses next week to see her gain in confidence will have an improving effect on her riding.

Kim also comes to us from quite a bit away, New Zealand.  She has really enjoyed riding with Roby this week. Kim has felt a gain in confidence and is starting to recognize how the body plays a constant role

Kim & Chief

in riding. She is starting to get an understanding in identifying when she doesn’t do something correct and how that shows in the horse.  Kim is very excited to go home to continue to work and build what she has learned this week.

Kelly is from right here in Montana.  She has done a lot of riding in her life.  The one thing that has really touched her this week is the ability to ride with the horse.  To be able to ride in a way that is more natural to a horse versus making the horse do what you want or just sitting on it.  And of course the food was absolutely fantastic.

Kelly & Benny

Michelle traveled from Georgia.  Her and Kelly are good friends that drove in together to see what our ranch was about.  What she found was a very awesome relationship building experience.  Not only has she gained a better understanding of how to have a relationship with a horse but has gained some new friends out of this week’s group.  Michelle said she has made new friends of the two and four legged variety.  And the food was top notch too!!

Michelle & Brumby

There were sure a lot of laughter and swapping stories going on this week.  I think I can speak for all the staff that we have made some friends and hope to see all of them back at some point.

In addition to everything else going on at the ranch, we got a special offer for you!

We all know that horses touch our hearts in a very special way.

At McGinnis Meadows they are truly our family and sometimes even our best friend :-).  To honor them we are offering a Valentine’s Day Special!

What could be more fun than a visit to MMR with your ‘Bestie’? Treat yourself, your best friend, or the love of your life to a week at MMR and receive a whopping discount off of your stay! Our gift to you– take an unheard of $425 off of your bill if you book a cabin together, and $200 off your bill if you book as a single for a 2019 MMR ranch Vacation during our peak or shoulder seasons. For reservations during our winter horsemanship season you’ll get 10% off of the normal rate!

You’ll have to act fast though, this offer only lasts through the end of the day on February 14th! Be sure to mention “Bestie’s” to receive your discount. * This cannot be combined with any other discounts. Contact Janice or Adrienne at 406-293-5000 to reserve your spot.

Happy Trails,


Hello from Pecos




Afternoon gather


Roby & Ike


Nemo, Wyatt, & Chip


GG & Chalkeye


Pecos, Romeo, & Boone


Calvin making a snow angel