The Highline Blog
February 9, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 6
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!
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!
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
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!
February 2, 2019 – Volume 14 – Issue 5
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.
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.
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!
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 @ Janice@mmgranch.net and we will get you signed up!
January 26, 2019 – Volume 14 – Issue 4
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
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
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.
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.
January 19, 2019 – Volume 14 – Issue 3
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.
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.
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
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.
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!!
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.
January 12, 2019 – Volume 14 – Issue 2
We are in our own little misty section of the world this week. It started with the most snow we have received all season, to rain mid week,
then the fog rolled in so thick at times we couldn’t see the mountains around us. But here at the ranch we always make the best of things. A couple of us decided we were going to get creative… I am pleased to introduced Ralph the snow cowboy with his horse Waldo.
This week we had Scott and Lorna join us for a week of horsemanship. The two of them hit it off from the start and enjoyed a lot fun with Roby in the indoor arena. Roby had them starting on the ground, moving through the fundamentals, and then working together following each others circles and patterns. Roby set the challenges and Scott and Lorna enjoyed working to meet them.
Scott comes to us from Indiana and has been here several times now. He loves to work on and be challenged in horsemanship. Scott was happy that he met all his goals he set for himself this week. The small size class was also a highlight for him to learn and work on movements with that one on one feel. Scott liked that he was challenged each day with a livelier horse and to feel different types of horses was awesome. And of course the scenery and food was top notch as
Lorna says this was the best week ever!!! She has learned so much in the past two weeks. Her and Scott worked well together and of course she likes the smaller group atmosphere. Lorna is amazed how much the body can play a role in moving the horse without the hands. She was tickled pink that she was able to improve in that area this week. She rode her favorite horse Emma all week and just can’t say enough about the experience.
Well, as we enjoy the heat wave of temperatures above freezing over the next few days (according to the weatherman), we look forward to seeing our old friends and new that are coming out to join us this week. Hopefully Ralph and his horse Waldo will be around to wave them a greeting when they come up the drive of the ranch.
January 5, 2019 – Volume 14 – Issue 1
Happy New Year from all of us here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch.
The ranch family gathered at the Belgarde house and had ourselves a little feast of snack food right before the ball dropped in Time
Square to celebrate the coming of 2019. We ate & laughed till our cheeks hurt. It’s nice to start new traditions with close friends, especially since this is a few of us’s first holiday season here at the ranch.
We have three guests this week that have been to the ranch several times. Roby switched things up by having them ride several horses throughout the week. He even said there was a healthy competition going on amongst the guests and everyone was in the lead at one time or another.
Richard and Helen hail from the great state of Montana and have enjoyed coming to
the ranch for several years. Richard enjoyed that there was a smaller group this time. It allowed for more of a one on one feel instruction and challenges to work on particular moves of horsemanship. Helen always loves riding with Roby, watching and learning from him. Both agree it was a good week.
Lorna likes us so much that she is back for the sixth time in a year from Michigan. In fact, she is hanging out with us for another week. A couple of her memorable moments of the week were when they were doing turns at “Roby Speed” and working on having life at a walk. Lorna
says this horsemanship is challenging but she learns something new each time she visits.
Scott is back from his family visit and is eager to start applying what he learned at farrier school along with Anna. I asked him to share with us his experience. What were his highlights and challenges along the way? Here is what he had to say….
Scott enjoyed the challenge of working with different horses that had issues that he has not seen here at the ranch. For example a horse that hadn’t been trimmed on a regular schedule… to bring the hoof back to where it should be or putting shoes on that helped correct an issue. The best experience is seeing the horse’s disposition change once he was done. Scott says his time at school was quite rewarding and is looking forward to applying all he learned with the ranch’s herd.
Once again we want to congratulate Scott on his accomplishment. We are excited to see him grow in his trade.
2019 is going to be a good year. You will have to keep checking in with us to see what the year holds. We always enjoy seeing our old friends and meeting new ones. If you’d like to be a part of this with a “hands on” experience, give us a call and we can get you booked for a reservation!
Happy New Year and Happy Trails,
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and looking forward to the new year. We had some fresh snow on Christmas Eve. It was a
perfect Christmas card scene when we all woke up on Christmas Day.
All us here at the ranch had a Merry Christmas dinner down at the Merz house. As promised here are some photos for you to see how us McGinnis Meadows folks celebrate. The white elephant gift exchange produced a lot of laughs. We had a wild game of catch phrase going and a competitive card game of Nertz going on that night
too. If anyone went home hungry it is a mystery due to the amount of food we had cooked up. I do believe we have started a new MMR Christmas tradition and looking forward to what next year brings.
Roby continues his way through the guest horses and the wranglers are working on bettering their horsemanship each day.
I don’t know if all of you have heard… Anna and Scott have completed Farrier School. We want to congratulate them on a job well done. Scott is visiting his family at the moment, we will hear more about his experiences when he returns next week.
Anna has jumped right in and started the scheduled trims. It is fun to see her with so much excitement and enthusiasm when she talks about her experience at school. Here is some things she had to say when I asked her what was the highlight of learning a new skill…
“The highlight for me personally is to see how we can best support the horses, like horses that might travel differently based off of their
conformation. We can now give them a little lateral support and help them move better. That information and teaching is just invaluable to me. I’m excited to see movement through new eyes!!! We can help them [the horses] move more comfortably and freely so they can work cows, and have fun with the guests. And that is priceless! I am so grateful to Shayne and Des for such a great start into this industry and I can’t wait to learn and grow with the horses at the ranch.”
Congratulations Anna on your accomplishment. We are excited to see where this takes you too!
It looks that winter has finally settled into our area with chiller temps and with a little snow each day. Each morning the mountains are crystallized into a beautiful frosty snowscape. It’s a sight to see the horses being jingle in with ice cycle clanging in there tails and mains. It really is something you have to see.
From all of us here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch we are looking forward to another fun filled year with our old friends and new friends we haven’t met yet.
Happy New Year Everyone!!
December 22, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 49
Christmas is right around the corner and here at the ranch we are getting excited for the day. Even though most of our families couldn’t make it out for a visit this year, we as a ranch family are getting together to have a big Christmas dinner at the Merz house. And to make life a little more cheery we are doing a “White Elephant” gift exchange. I have heard buzz around the water trough saying there are some interesting gift ideas. We’ll take some pics to let you in on the fun!
Roby and the wrangler crew (Brenda, Janice, and Jenna) are still continuing on honing their skills on the fundamentals. The ropes were swinging the other night in full force. And Roby is still continuing putting some good rides on the guest horse strings getting ready for the upcoming season.
The attack of the dust bunny is still in full force. The cabins & rooms have been conquered and the public areas of the lodge are in the cross hairs now!
Dave has been chipping away at projects sprucing up different areas of the Ranch while the guests are celebrating the holidays with their families. He is working on putting in a new ceiling in the pantry and in the office cubby space, in amongst his routine checks of all the buildings for cold weather issues. And speaking of cold weather issues, we have been having warmer temperatures during the day with a decent amount of rain and freezing at night. Dave and Brenda have been out this week spreading straw for the horses to walk and bed down in. And for us humans to get around without ice-skates too!! The fickle weather can make it a challenge for all two & four legged animals to get around some days.
In the mid-afternoon you can put an ear out to hear the big John Deere tractor. That would be just Erin and Dave driving around with the flat bed trailer feeding the critters. I say critters because our friendly herd of Elk has figured out when dinner is served and they hop over the fence to share a meal with the horses. I have been unable to obtain a photograph for your viewing pleasure. I might have to bust out the camouflage but I going to get one this year. So just stay tuned!
According to the weatherman old man winter is finally going to get around to our part of the mountains with colder temperatures and maybe a little snow to freshen up the earth for a white Christmas. For a few of us, this is our first Christmas on the ranch and we are looking forward to creating new traditions and sharing some old ones too.
From all of us here at McGinnis Meadows we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!!
December 15, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 48
Well, this week we have a start on that snow for a white Christmas but the temperatures are still reasonable. Old man winter hasn’t come through our neck of the woods in full force yet.
This week has been a little bit more low key since our guests are busy getting ready for the holidays. But here on the ranch life still moves along with different projects and activities.
Roby is putting some good rides on all the guest horses in the next few weeks. He calls it a tune up for the up coming season. You will find him out in the indoor arena going through the moves to make sure each horse is ready for guests to get the best horsemanship experience here at the ranch.
But what is neat this week is that Brenda, Janice, and Jenna have the opportunity to join Roby in the indoor arena. And of course, we all know how much Roby loves to teach and challenge those who ride with him. He has them working on all the foundation work that Buck, Shayne and Des teach, with some roping getting ready for the upcoming branding season this spring.
Some might call it spring-cleaning but here we call it deep cleaning. Jenna, Erin, and myself are elbow deep in spiffing up the cabins and lodge rooms. Getting ready for the next round of guests. We haven’t found a dust bunny that we couldn’t handle.
Whether it is riding or doing other chores, every morning we are reminded of what a beautiful place the ranch is. The scene never gets old of the horses making their way through the fresh snow as they are jingled in each morning. Or the fog crystallizing the meadows just after the sun has come up. It’s a special site to see here in our slice of heaven in the Rockies.
December 8, 2018 – Volume 13 – Issue 47
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 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.
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.
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
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!)
Janice and Adrienne