The HIghline Blog

Moving Steers and Making Friends

Hey there everyone,

Bernie hunting for steers on Dually

I hope your week has been as great as ours has been here at McGinnis Meadows! This week we have been given the task of moving all of the steers off of the Ferguson piece behind the ranch all the way to Shayne’s mountain across the country road. It is quite a feat but also quite fun. This week we have had a great crew of guests to help us get the job done; returning to help are McGinnis Meadows veterans Brian and Pam Frey- their love of the ranch and kindness will be missed when they go home.  This week the ranch is also able to welcome back our old friend, Bernie Ziegner, who has been coming to the ranch since 2000.

The ranch had two birthdays this week! We celebrated with Adrienne on Monday night with chocolate cheesecake and we celebrated Anna on Wednesday with angel food cake. Two great women. Two great workers. Two great friends. The ranch is blessed to have them on staff.

Joy, Emma, and Julie at the lookout

Although moving the cattle to their next grazing allotment was the objective of the week, other classes were also taught by wranglers to reinforce the foundation horsemanship class that Shayne gave on Monday morning. Janice has taught groundwork classes showing the guests how to guide the horses’ feet, roll the hindquarters, and back up- all vital movements for a horse to safely perform with and without a rider on their back. Horsemanship trail rides have also been a lot of fun!

Riding down such steep declines takes tact and precision

We also welcomed three new interns to the ranch! For their first week, Josie, Dani, and Yaz have had a great opportunity to ride some of our ranch horses, learn how to move cattle, and have been in a number of horsemanship classes. Dani and Josie even got to go out on a ride with Brenda to learn all of the gates, water tanks, and mineral tubs on Shayne’s mountain! This information will be important when they head out to check on cattle next week as well as when we have to gather them up for their next move. Per tradition, these interns are also required to practice throwing their saddles on the high wooden fence behind the mounting block. They must do this job smoothly and cleanly before they are allowed to try it on one of the ranch horses- they already are doing a great job!

Mama and baby bear <3

Although we have had a good bit of rain this week, the clouds have not stopped us from having a week chock full of breathtaking views and critter sightings. The first fawns of the season are starting to be seen lying in the grass or under trees. Randy even got some photos of black bears nearby! And of course, the view from the top of the lookout never gets old 🙂

Doing so much good work has brought this great group of guests, interns, and wranglers close together. When everyone comes to dinner at the end of the day you are no longer sitting across from strangers you are sharing a meal with friends.

Happy trails,


Brenda and Suzy getting handy with a rope

Brian and Pam Frey in one of their daily bench photos 🙂

Steers on their way to Shayne’s mountain

Adrian and Susan rode so well this week!


Successful ride for Brian, Pam, and Dani

We know fun at McGinnis Meadows Ranch!

June 1, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 20

Hey there everybody,

Anna C (better know as Ahna) is helping in the office this season and we discovered that she loves to write :-). Here is her Highline debut for your reading pleasure…

Trouble thinks he’s very majestic

After a long weekend of rain, clouds, and large mucky puddles the sun is out and we are taking full advantage here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch! Guests started their week with our foundation horsemanship class; in this class everyone had the opportunity to get a feel for riding our highly trained ranch horses as they learned how to hold and maintain a soft feel, use their legs to move the horses forward and laterally, and establish a solid posting trot. This week we have only a couple repeat guests- it’s wonderful to have Lisa ride with us again! Our other guests were new to the game but made quick progress: after one day of practice Sue was posting the trot on Jasper all over the property! It was a great first day!

Bring on the tarpon!

Shayne and Des went fly-fishing in Florida for tarpon (on a fly-rod) this week. Thankfully, this year they did not get effected by any hurricanes 🙂 and it sounded like they had a great time! They’ll return back to the ranch in time to welcome in our next group of guests.

Now that the steers are happily living on our Ferguson property behind the ranch, we are given the fun job of checking on them and pushing them higher up the mountain every day. After having their first day of horsemanship instructed by Roby and the wranglers, excited groups of guests, wranglers, and interns set out to find and move the steers to water and mineral tubs around the mountain. There was a couple of times when the steers had a different idea in mind of where they wanted to be; as we tried to guide them uphill along the logging road, they would duck in the trees or jump up the hill just out of reach!  While playing hide and seek with the steers, it was a great opportunity to witness the beauty of Montana so high up on the mountain; Ferguson is such a special piece of property to ride on because of the great vantage point that it provides of the meadows that stretch across the front of the ranch.

Brothers Aaron and Joni at the State Section

The meadows that looked so beautiful from above were found to be just as beautiful to ride in when Roby took his horsemanship class outside of the arena! Everyone had a great time riding through the meadow! Having the space to move out the horses really helped the more timid or inexperienced riders in the group find their footing and gain a lot of momentum on their progression. Roby had them out trotting and cantering on their ponies, riding formations, and performing all sorts of exercises. Everyone knows it’s going to be a good day when Roby is scheduled to ride with them- this was no exception.

Samantha, Lisa, Heidi, and Elka being silly 🙂

After all that fun in the newly found sun, everyone came back to the lodge high spirited and hungry. While the horses munched away on their grain, the guests enjoyed their own post-ride treat and took advantage of the beer tap in the saddling barn. At the end of the day when all the horses were put safely to bed, wranglers, interns and guests gathered together for another of Miriam’s delicious meals. How could there be anything better?

Its been a great week here at McGinnis Meadows- so many kind guests have become fast friends as we all strive to become better for the sake of our horses.

Happy trails my friends,


Sue and Brian practicing their roping prowess

Jeanette, Lisa, and Heidi at the lookout

Scotch waiting patiently for his grain

Cattle, Cutting and Cavalry at McGinnis Meadows Ranch!

May 18, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 19

Hey Everyone!

This was another action packed week here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch. There were 12 guests, 8 of whom were visiting us again. The new folks were made right at home and got up to speed quickly on their horses, so they could get out and ride some country. We finished ear tagging and inoculating the cattle early in the week.

Ray riding MaGoo- holding the cattle

After just two days of horsemanship, folks who had not been on horses much, were moving cattle, sorting in the scale house pen, trotting and cantering outside in the meadows and up the mountain!  We had Amy, Chad, Tina and Allie  (both previous interns), Lynn, Ray, Jon, Flora and Clem back for more, and Sophie (Amy’s daughter), Judee, Michelle and Jake from Sweden, joining us for the first time.

Shayne was teaching horsemanship both in the indoor arena and outside this week, depending on how the weather and the ground held up. We got a bit of rain and mud but with last years work on the winter pasture, it is the perfect place to work on trotting and cantering through the trees.  We also did some cavalry exercises where riders key off of other riders in various movements. It is really fun!

On Wednesday, he took some of the more advanced guests on a long trot around the ranch, over Ferguson mountain and back

Tina and Benny and Michele and Roanie

through the west piece where the cattle were. They had a blast! Along the way he showed how to fix herd bound horses, how to post comfortably and change diagonals often, as well as how to negotiate water and steep up and downhills. Des continued her famous round pen lesson and many of the guests took advantage of this unique opportunity to work on their seat at the canter. The difference it makes in one’s riding and confidence is amazing!

Thursday we got to work the cutting ball. This is always a highlight for guests, staff and interns. This tool is not only tons of fun but it allows the horse to hook on because it can be worked at a speed that is fitting to the horse and rider.

On Friday we moved all of the cattle from the West Pasture out to Ferguson Mountain. This is their first step in their journey to make it out to the grazing allotment. Guests took them up to the water and mineral tanks making sure they knew where to find it and the cattle seemed pretty content. Next week is officially the final week of spring horsemanship for 2019. Shayne and Des are away (Fishing on their annual trip) but will return just in time for Peak Season June 2nd!

Wishing you a fabulous week ahead with many thoughts of horses in your head 🙂


Rachel’s cookies 🙂

Amy and daughter Sophie

Michele and Roanie working the cutting ball

Hello from Chief!

Flora and Brenda having fun

Allie riding scotch

Clem, Flora and Jon on their horses.

Local beer from Whitefish!

Guest season Arrives at McGinnis Meadows Ranch


May 18, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 19

Greetings Everyone!

This week marked our transition from our winter horsemanship/clinics schedule into our regular guest season schedule. We are still in our spring horsemanship/cattle work sessions, but the ranch is in full swing, with full staff, full activities and FULL, (too full!) bellies full of Miriam’s fantastic dinners!

Riding in the meadows. Everything is really getting green!

Now that Miriam is cooking dinners, the staff all gathers with the guests for supper and conversation. Each night the tables are full of stories, jokes, and some tall tales. After such a long winter, I had forgotten how much fun these dinners are! Shayne and I ended up talking and laughing for longer than we planned for, each evening. But we couldn’t help ourselves—this group was so much fun and so many of them are such good friends.

Federico with Hunk. You may remember Hunk when he was a Guest horse!

The riding was pretty diverse. We had lots of horsemanship instruction, both inside the arena and out in the trees. There were two days chock full of cattle work—-gathering, ear tagging, worming and weighing each steer individually.

Roby was able to turn over two of his client horses over to their owners—Federico took over his colt, Forrest, and learn how much he needed to adjust his riding for a sensitive youngster! It was a great learning experience. And Julie took over her horse, Hoot. It was such a neat thing to see—the two of them just ginned immediately and she seemed like she had all of the confidence in the world riding him inside the arena or out of it, walking, trotting and cantering.

I had the opportunity to work with a guest named Mary and her Morgan horse, Smokie. He’s quite a bit to handle and Mary is staying over next week so that we can continue working with them both and getting them comfortable with one another.

Heli riding Cheech in the sorting pen.

All guests made great improvements, be in in horsemanship or in their savviness regarding cattle. They were awesome!

As can happen this time of year, we had daytime temps ranging from 80 to 50. We went from brilliant sunshine to pouring rain. Although the sun is nicer to ride in, we do need these big spring rains for our pastures. Next week the sun will be back and we’ll see that the grass has grown another 3 inches!

McKenzie leaves us to head home this weekend. We will really miss her. Her work ethic was amazing, she made great progress with her riding, and she is just a really fun person! She says she will be back 🙂

Anna C (Ahna) will be returning this week to help in the office and ride a bit and we also welcomed Alyssa to our seasonal crew. She will be interning and helping in the kitchen.  It is beginning to feel like summer!

Have a great weekend guys!


Julie (on Hoot) and Trent (on Tequila).

Marko riding Boone

Peter on Roanie, learning where his seat needs to be on up and downhill terrain. He did awesome!

Amy learning to rope with Norma Jean cheering her on!

Ear tagging and shots crew: Anna, Brenda, Peter, Dave and Scott

Nadja rode Chief well.


Let the Season Begin!

May 11, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 18

Hey Everyone

Following on the heels of branding there were no guests this week so staff was busy sprucing up the ranch. Everything was gone over with a fine tooth comb- from horse equipment to the Highline area, horse pens, lawns, you name it!

                  Clean saddles!

Ash spent a good amount of time cleaning saddles and bridles and she did a great job- they all look like new. Scott took care of the saddle pads and cinches, and the halters are all washed and bright looking. Now that they are shedding out, the horses will be ready for photographs in all of their gear!

Check out the new tent floor, too- the gravel and slate was recently replaced with new tile and it looks pretty sharp.

Dave, Willy and Adrienne have been tending to outside projects; Adrienne can be seen all over the ranch, mowing, cleaning, and she is a big help in the office. Dave spent time up on the Ferguson pasture checking fence lines for when we turn out the cattle next week. Willy has been working on the irrigation system making sure it is working properly and then flooding the meadows systematically.

New floor in the tent!

Our group of horsemanship guests coming in this week will be the first to get a glimpse of all the handy work!

Trent who was helping us with branding stayed over last week to meet up with his wife Julie, who will be a guest with us. He rode his horse out with Roby and the interns, checking on cattle and working on horsemanship.

Seattle Police and Des & Shayne, ready to hit the streets!

Des and Shayne have been away in Seattle riding with the Mounted Police Unit- it was a huge success! They have been working with the unit for a few months and it was neat to see the progress. It was also something to see how this horsemanship carries to anything you do with a horse- to see Tucker and Whiskey out in downtown Seattle mingling with babies, semi trucks and general city life, (tucker has never been off the ranch before!), and handling it like it was nothing… that says a lot about the education they have been given.

We are excited to start up the season again and hope that we get to see you out here soon!

Happy trails,




new picnic area


Sparkling halters

Riding and Roping in Beautiful Montana!

May 7, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 17

What a ride these last two weeks have been!

Let’s backtrack to April 21st—the day that marked the start of our last 10-day clinic for the season (don’t worry if you missed out—we have some awesome 8-day clinics coming up in the fall, with cattle too!)

Ten Day Clinic! Cathy, MaryJo, Stephan, Matt, Lorie, Shayne, Karmen, Kenzie and Janice

This clinic was above and beyond amazing. Our fine group of guests also included 3 members of the Seattle Mounted Police Unit—riders Stephan and Matt and barn manager, Karmen. In addition, we had Cathy (Scott’s mom!), Mary Jo, Lori (with her horse Tilly), and interns Kenzie and Ash.

Each member of this group was given a personal invitation to join us, as they have been diligent in working with us during previous winter (and non-winter) horsemanship weeks. We knew that each of them would be ready to take their skills to the next level. This group ultimately exceeded our expectations—their passion, attentiveness and creativity was over-the-top!

Des helping Cathy get the timing for cutting

Shayne and I worked with them and their horses for several days of horsemanship—things ranging from soft feels at all gaits, neck ropes, calling out feet, leg yields, cow turns and cavalry moves to name just a few. On day 6, I came in and divided the guests and interns into groups of 2 or 3 apiece. They had the rest of the morning to choreograph a 3-minute routine, based on everything that they had learned. They made it really fun and chose songs for their routines too!

The groups were Ah-MAAAAAZING! I took videos of all of them—maybe I can get them up on YouTube in the near future! Each group performed entirely different maneuvers from the next and the riders were basically dancing with one another horseback. Shayne couldn’t believe his eyes—it was probably the proudest moment he’s had as a teacher!

Throughout the week, we would challenge the group to do larger choreographed maneuvers, cavalry maneuvers where each person would lead, and sessions where individual guests or interns had 10 minutes to teach the class whatever they wanted—ranging from turnarounds to soft feels to moving out in a soft feel. All of these teaching tools pushed the group out of their comfort zones but into entirely new realms of horsemanship!

Karmen working on her canter seat in

Towards the end of the 10-day, we took our guests on a hike up to the very top of Shayne’s mountain—above The Lookout, to a very large snag tree with an incredible view of the valleys surrounding the ranch and the Cabinet Mountains visible in the distance. Everyone made it to the top in short order, smiling and chatting the whole way. Not only was this group sporty in their riding, they were fit too! Coincidence? I think not.

We made it back from our hike just in time to get horseback once again. Our yearling steers were coming up the driveway in three big semi loads! It was about 6pm when everything was unloaded and there was plenty of daylight left. We opted to drive the cattle from the corrals, behind the lodge and over to Randy’s pastures. It was the first time that the Police Horses had seen cattle, much less had to drive them! They were a little worried at first, but Shayne worked with Matt and Stephan and in no time, their horses were relaxed and back with their riders.

The hike was beautiful. Shayne and Des take in the view

It was the first time I had done a job involving cattle with my client horse, Romeo. It’s a lot to handle for a horse to stand in next to the cattle trucks as the steers are rumbling out of them through the chutes right in front of your horse’s nose—but Romeo and I had a job—we had to get an accurate count. I’m sure he wondered why in the world we had to do such a silly job, but he stood in there and we got our counts correct. Then he, I and my group of guests proceeded to get the cattle driven through the trees over to their temporary home.

It was a great trip, a relatively calm and unseasonably warm evening—just perfect! We all got back to the arena by dusk and reveled in what a magnificent day it was!

On the last day of the clinic, we all had a big dinner—the first big dinner for the season! We were joined by our incoming roping and branding crew—longtime friends, Dave, Dylan and Ty.

Randy in a sea of cattle!

The next day, as our guests headed home, our ropers and ground crew were gearing up for a run to rope and brand 220 head of steers, averaging 750 lbs each! This type of roping is really fun, but Shayne describes it as “big boy” roping. These are strong animals, who are fast, not at all looking forward to being caught and certainly not “light.” They all require a head rope, hind feet caught, and a front foot caught (if only one hind is caught.). So basically, each steer takes at least 3 ropers initially, and our seasoned rope crew has just 7 members—in addition to our friends, it’s me, Shayne, Roby and Randy.

We rope in Shayne’s outdoor arena, which allows for the steers to travel full speed about 220 feet! At any given moment, there were 2 steers headed at a time. Sometimes, one steer would be on the ground getting branded, while 2 others were necked and traveling around the arena. You had to have your head on a swivel. We never stepped off our horses—just trotted or loped whenever needed to head, heel, set shots, bring in more cattle, catch front feet. We roped at a record pace and got through 220 steers in 3.5 days!

Des heeling on Tucker. They were heeling machines 🙂

Of course, this would not have been possible without our ground crew! Although our good friend, Trent, headed it up, nearly everyone on the ranch participated in setting ropes and branding the steers. The ground crew was smooth, fast and did not let a single steer get away from them! Impressive, to say the least!!!

Today was so strange…I spent it in meetings, doing office “stuff.” Mostly, sitting down-type stuff. I’ve grown so accustomed to this pace I’ve been on that I feel like I’ve already rested too much! It’s OK though—on Wednesday, Shayne and I are onto yet another adventure. We will be heading out to Seattle with our horses to work with the Mounted Police and their horses for 3 days. We will do some horsemanship in the arena, will ride with them downtown, and end the 3 days with a demo at the Unit. Shayne has been instrumental in the current success of the program and we are happy to share it with many of the good folks of Seattle!

Our staff is bearing down for the next few days to put the final touches on the ranch before our main season officially begins on May 12th. The ranch is looking like a pretty penny! The crew are getting a couple of well-deserved days off as well. These guys are an amazing group of people—hard working, great comrades and they are all in love with life and with this lifestyle at the ranch. I’m so grateful for them!

Till next time,


Moving cattle to their temporary pastures

Scott and his mom, Cathy got to ride out together!

Branding Ground crew! Scott, Ash, Brenda, Dave, Trent, Rachel McKenzie, Anna. Not shown, Sue, Adrienne, Janice.

Perseverance and breakthroughs at McGinnis Meadows Ranch

April 20, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 16

Hey Everyone,

Warmer weather this week has surfaced at the ranch along with more rain. The horses are starting to look sleeker day by day!

Harley and Carolyn

Harley came back to visit us this week. He is a very cool draft horse that belongs to long time returning guest, Carolyn. He is truly a gentle giant, so very sweet. He came to Carolyn with some trouble and she has been diligent about working through this with him. This week she got to watch Shayne ride him to correct an issue with his shoulder pushing in through the corners. When Carolyn got back on him, she was able to feel the difference – this can be so helpful when you can feel what it is like to ride a balanced horse.

There were many highlights this week for each guest, as well as a few struggles along the way. As happens so often, a greener rider made great strides throughout the week, while the riders with more experience and old habits had to work pretty hard to re-train themselves. It is interesting to see how people learn differently. Some are visual, some have to mimick another rider, and sometimes, figuring it out on their own after instruction, is what works. Sometimes there there are mental or physical road blocks, but most always, people are able to work through it.

Marisa was a great example of someone who struggled with being able to turn her body correctly through the week and on Friday she made a huge breakthrough. When Marisa’s body changed so did Cheech’s, her horse for the week!

Marisa and Cheech

When she stopped bringing her rein across his neck to the outside, in order to prevent him from pushing his shoulder in, Cheech’s flexion became correct and he stopped pushing in of his own accord.

Tom, Heidi and Vicki all had similar breakthroughs, with their seat positions and getting life in their horses. Everyone also got to experience riding in neck ropes and halters :-). It was a really great group this week.

The work that Dave and Scott have been doing at the shop, installing new cabinets and reorganizing, is complete. This will make it a great space to work in and easily find what they need. Guests visiting the ranch will also notice the new tile floor that is going under the tent. Will, Willy, Randy and Dave are working on the base for this and it is going to look spectacular when it is finished!

New tent base for tile flooring

Talk about organization- new shop cabinets!







Scott continues to jingle in the herd each morning. Now with the nicer weather and green grass starting to come up, they are not always so cooperative. There are a few holdouts (Chaos, Boone and Brownie, to name some), that are pretty good at hiding. Once they are spotted in the corrals, you can be pretty sure that the whole herd is accounted for!

Tom and Vicki helping each other call out the horses foot falls. Focus required…

We welcomed back Sue and previous intern Rachel, this week. Sue was out recovering from surgery on her hip over the winter and Rachel has returned help Miriam in the kitchen and do a part time internship. We’re thrilled to have them both back here for the upcoming season.

Speaking of the season, there are just a few spots remaining for the 2019 season. If you haven’t already checked out our new fall and 2020 schedule, you should! There are some new twists like a cow working clinic, women’s week and several eight-day clinics that have already garnered a lot of interest.

There are also just 3 spots remaining for the 2nd Buck week clinic here at the ranch, July 21-28th, 2019. If you are interested, contact Janice to see how you can secure your spot.

Happy Trails,


Tom did well on Jasper

Heidi rode Roanie and Chief for a different perspective. Her riding improved bunches!

“How soft can you be on the reins” demonstration with Shayne and Ashlyn

There sure are some pretty sunrises this time of year here at the ranch


The Pace is picking up at McGinnis Meadows!

April 13, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 15

Hey Everyone,

It seems as though the wheels of the ranch are really beginning to turn with the spring season!

For starters, Miriam, Willy and Sue came back to work after having the winter off.  I took the opportunity to sample Miriam’s fare and that woman has not missed a beat!  I think her food was better than ever!!!

A Pileated Woodpecker!

Willy hit the ground running…. Checking fence, working on our lodge driveway, flagging areas for new fence, fixing corrals…the list can go one and on!

Sue just came in today.  She’s going to be taking it easy on the riding side for a little bit, due to hip surgery over the winter, but there will be more than plenty for her to do when she’s not horseback.  We have lots of new fun gift shop items to go over, saddles to clean and pastures to de-limb.

One of our former interns, Ash, also joined our crew for a few months for a partial internship/partial work deal.  She’s doing lots of “fill-in” work until our peak season begins.  We are so happy to have her back!

Tom worked really hard on changing his seat this week

The weather has been veeeeeeerrrry wet.  The good part about that is that there are only a few patches of snow left on the ground.  There isn’t really a bad side—other than it’s very muddy, wet and dreary.  We are SO ready for sunshine!  The horses come in caked in mud and you can only hope that you can get most of it off of them before they dry off and you have to re-brush—because you will get completely covered in manure-y dust!  You just squint your eyes and close your lips real tight for a long as possible, turn away and take a deep breath then go again, haha.  The ponies don’t seem to mind the extra attention!

Last weekend we had Dr. Genovese and his tech’s out at the ranch to vaccinate the entire herd.  They love coming out here because the whole process is so uneventful!  We were able to get 110 head vaccinated and wormed in a 1/2 a day!  And that’s in addition to Dr. G working with us in getting several horses x-rayed, or utrasounded who were due for re-check-ups.

One of the really neat things we do at the ranch is x-ray any horse’s feet who our farriers feel might be a problem, or who they might have a quandary about.  You would be very surprised at how much different a horse’s bone structure can be from the shape of their foot!  Often, we can look at x-rays and our farriers can determine that they can take off quite a bit more hoof, or they learn that the horse has thin soles and needs extra support, etc.  It’s a fantastic learning tool and we have several horses on the ranch who have been x-rayed and had their shoeing adjusted which has helped them tremendously with balance and soundness!

In fact, we have a HUGE shoeing book, with notes and photos of every single horse on the ranch—what shoes to use, how to handle them on the ground, x-rays, history of injury, etc. 

Kenzie has a nice way with her horses and has been getting them really soft!

It’s extremely extensive but a testament to how much we care about the health of our herd and their comfort when it comes to their feet.

Anna and Scott have started the process of finally getting shoes on the horses again.  We keep most of them barefoot over the winter.  Now that the ice is finally gone, it’s a full time job to get the horses shod again so that we can start riding them out!  The two have been doing an awesome job and Shayne and I are so proud of them both!

This week we had just one guest, Tom, from Washington.  Because Shayne and I had quite a busy week with horses to ride and projects going on, we gave Janice the lead in the teaching.  It was a huge learning experience for her!  Shayne or I would assist as needed, and of course we taught Tom, Janice and our interns as well, but then would hand the reins back to Janice. 

Des practicing roping on client horse Romeo

She has a new appreciation for not only being able to teach, but to ride multiple horses and improve them during the whole process.  It’s harder than you think!  Janice got really smooth and helped to get Tom to an entirely new seat position.  We always wish we had before and after photos because he made such big changes!  We are looking forward to having Tom back at the ranch later this season—this next time with his big Friesian colt by his side.

Well, I’m signing off for bed.  If we get a break in the weather this weekend, a bike ride may be in order!

Till next time,


Hey, Can I come in?

We were blessed with seeing another rainbow over Shayne’s house!


April 6, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 14

Greetings Everyone,

We’ve got some exciting news about new programming here at MMR! 8-Day clinics, Women’s weeks, VIP weeks, and much more is what you’ll find later this fall and throughout the 2020 season! Read a synopsis about it further down in this edition of the Highline. There will also be more details on our website (, in our Ranch Ramblings newsletter and on Facebook!

Kathy and her horse Toby

This week, we had several repeat guests as well as first timers. Ryan, Lauren and Madi have all been here before. Lauren brought along her horse Charlie, a really cute bay roan, and this time Madi got to ride our guest horse Shadow. Shadow has recently been retired from ranch work and will be leaving on Saturday to start his new life with her. Both of them look like they couldn’t be happier!

Nikki also joined us, a longtime friend of Ryan and Lauren, and Kathy and her horse Toby visited too. Toby was a client horse a few years back and we are always so excited to see them both when they return to the ranch!

In horsemanship this week, we worked quite a bit on seat position and getting everyone to really have their horses working off of their legs. The neck ropes were brought out on Wednesday. In order to make exercises with a neck rope really effective the rider’s leg has to have meaning. The leg should create the flexion in the horse, not just the use of the hands. Once this is working well, then the horse can still be in correct flexion even with just a neck rope. To challenge everyone just a little bit more, we brought out the jolly balls!

Ryan rode Charlie for part of time as well.

Everyone got to pair up with another rider, and the goal was to bring the ball from one end of the arena to the other in the straightest line possible. To do this, you need the ability to center the horse directly behind the ball and be able to direct the left and right front leg independently. It takes some control with your legs to accomplish this, as you can imagine! Everyone did great and it even got to some friendly competition at times.

In other ranch news, Scott and Dave have been busy organizing the shop. They’ve gone through just about everything in there, tidied up and cleaned out anything not needed, and are currently installing brand new cabinets. We’ll get some before and after pictures as soon as the project is finished. J

Today will be a busy day here at the ranch. The vet is coming in to give the horses their spring shots! It will be all hands on deck to accomplish getting through all 100 head of horses, with quality.

Madi and Shadow! Here she is asking him for a soft feel before leaving to cross the arena.

We make sure not to rush the horse and that they are good with the process so that next time too will be a good deal for them.

Lauren and Booker. Lauren’s seat really improved this week!

As promised here is synopsis of special events for Fall 2019 and 2020 the season:

Women’s Week and an 8-day horsemanship clinic (Oct/Nov 2019 and Oct 2020)

Thanksgiving week (November 2019)

8-Day cow working clinic (May 2020)

8-Day horsemanship clinics- (Feb-Apr/Jul/Oct 2020)

Veterans, Active Duty and Law Enforcement Appreciation Week Guest week (Aug 2020)

VIP Weeks  (Jun/ Sept 2020)

Buck Brannaman Clinic Weeks (Jul 2020)

Please contact Janice for all of the fun details about any of these weeks as well as our regular guest weeks, at, or call (406) 293-5000.

Happy trails,


Nikki and Chief. She did a great job of riding him soft with just a neck rope.

Shayne and Cooley kicking the jolly ball with no hands!

First light at MMR

Oh, and did I mention that Madi taught Des, Shayne and me how to do the Floss??


Connecting the Horsemanship Dots at McGinnis Meadows

March 30, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 13

Greetings everyone,

This week there were no guests riding so Shayne and Des worked with the interns and staff each day. We got to work a lot on riding straight lines, riding to softness, walk – trot transitions and on Friday, cantering!

McKenzie riding straight lines on Jasper

I was fortunate to be able to ride 2-3 horses each day and this really lets you feel the differences in each horse. The really interesting part with the guest horses though, is that they may have a different feel, yet the issues that have developed in them are all very similar. We tend to create things in them that we then have to fix later. We focused a lot this week on not creating them in the first place, and feeling them in a more timely manner, so we can make corrections a lot earlier. When this happens, corrections can be a lot smaller and much more subtle. Shayne talked a lot about connecting the dots when you ride- looking ahead and riding far out ahead of you so you can stay ahead of your horse.  It was an analogy that really clicked with all of us.

The art of fine horsemanship requires so much mental focus (as in ride every step), and so much planning ahead that it can seem mind-boggling in the beginning. But, as each of the components becomes more automatic, riding can become more efficient and more fluid. I am thankful that I have such great teachers who never give up on me as I struggle sometimes to learn all of this!

Scott got to ride with us as well, and he rode his pretty pony Yellow Hair. Shayne thought he had things working pretty well with this horse and commented how ‘with him’ Yellow Hair was. It was fun to see.

Yellow Hair!

Casey and Tina, our stellar interns, finished up their last week with us. We will miss them! They were great students and they both made so much progress in their riding in such a short amount of time. We know they will both be back soon, and we look forward to it!

Out on the ranch, Scott, Anna and Dave did some more adjusting to the shoeing area, making it a bit more roomy. It looks great!

Brenda returned from vacation this week too, and we are all happy to have her back here. She wasted no time saying hello to her beloved herd and taking care of all of them.

It looks like winter is still hanging on just a little with expected temps not getting out of the 40’s next week. The snow is melting though and of course the tell tale sign that spring is approaching… the piles of horse hair on the ground after they get a good brushing!

Here is to a great week ahead.


Casey and Firestone

Scott feeding with Dave (driving)

Who, Me?

Des and Pard. He is so handsome!

Thank you to Rachel Niemela for the great photos!