The Highline Blog
January 25, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 4
What’s happening at MMR? Well, it has been raining a bit and warmer at the ranch this past week. The horses are liking the warmer weather as are the humans. There is still snow on the ground so if it sets up a bit you’ll see me finally out xc skiing!
The ranch projects continue- ALL of the saddles are cleaned and shiny. The crew did a great job getting through all 37 of them! Now the mecate reins are getting freshened up and headstalls taken apart and conditioned. Next come the saddle bags and chinks- There is a lot of leather in use here!
Kevin is just about finished with the big project of cleaning and reorganizing the shop. He won’t release photos until he is all finished, so we’ll just have to wait a few more days to see the magic. 🙂
Anna-Banana and Scott just returned from a week at shoeing school at Lazy U Quarter Horses in Nebraska to further their education. Anna is very excited and we can’t wait to hear all about what they learned.
Brenda as always, is diligent about keeping our horse family safe, sound and healthy, among all the other things she does here at the ranch. I know of nobody else who puts as much heart into the care of their horses than she. With the changing weather patterns she has been ever watchful for signs that the horses might be uncomfortable, and she checks the herd daily — each individual horse– to make sure no cuts, bruises or scrapes get left untreated. We are so lucky to have her here!
As for me, I’ve been making progress with office projects, booking guests and thinking of ways to enhance guest
stays even more. I love being able to take a little time to chat with returning guests as well as meet new ones via phone and email. Meeting so many wonderful people is the nicest part of my job. And, since marketing and media have always been items of great interest to me, I never find “office” work boring. It is quite the opposite really, because there is always something new to develop or learn. I’m also excited to be working on some de-cluttering up here so that guests can enjoy the quiet, cozy atmosphere.
Emily has been riding little Gunner in the mornings and in the afternoon is busy putting together recipes for our winter guests who will be arriving in Mid-February. Her cooking skills are awesome and we look forward each week to see what goodies she has in store for us. Although it has been productive being closed here for two months, our guests arrival will bring the ranch back to life with fun activity, and we are all looking forward to it!
One of the things I really do love though about the “downtime” in winter is being able to spend time with the horses in a quiet setting. Observing them out in the herd, grooming them, and just spending some extra time with them, reminds me of why I became enamored with them in the first place. It sure is a rewarding way to start and end the day.
I hope you can make time to do the same.
January 18, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 3
Hey guys! Its Anna Banana here. I begged Janice to let me have a shot at the Highline for the week!
Balance. That was the word that stood out to me this week. Balance in the horse industry is sometimes a trigger word. People hear it and they think they understand what it means, but it can end up with different interpretations. Balance means everything to the horse. It is apparent in every facet of their life. As Shayne and Des always say “Balance means life or death to a horse”. To me this week it really hit home for some reason. I think about it a lot when I’m at work. I think about it when I grain horses. I think about it when I medicate or treat a horse. I especially think about it when I am shoeing and riding.
As a Farrier, I understand balance. I know the foot must support the weight of the horse. I know that when I reach for a horse, they must be balanced, so that I can be balanced. As a rider, and I’m going to be honest here… I am still trying to understand balance. I am still
searching for my balance so that I can help balance the ranch horses. We have been riding some of the ranch horses over the winter, and my lucky steed is Dunny. Some of you might know, he is my favorite horse on the ranch. When I found out Dunny was my horse for the winter, I jumped at the chance. This week Shayne and Des have us working hard on our teardrop exercise. Where I was struggling was, by letting him drive his front end into the ground, I was disuniting the horse. I was taking his balance away. Bless these sweet, sweet horses and their ultimate patience.
I believe that somewhere deep in our hearts, balance means the same thing to us that it means to horses. That’s why we get along so well. We find ourselves in our horses. This year showed me that I was not balanced as a person. I will always do more, try more, give more. That’s just the type of person I am. My body had paid the price of my lack of balance. Being a farrier you always hear “Take care of your back”. But you don’t understand what they mean until you
must do it yourself. Luckily, I have people to BACK me up (Haha get it?) Shayne and Des have taught me so much about what your body needs to thrive when you do what we do. Shayne, with his decades of masonry experience, has given me so many tips about body position that I’ve lost count. Des, who is fluent in all things nutrition, has changed my view on what my body needs to become stronger. Because, here’s the kicker folks- IF I CAN’T BE BALANCED AS A HUMAN, HOW CAN I BALANCE A HORSE?
So here’s the point. Think about what you are giving to the horse. Are you as a person balanced in your heart, mind, and body? So do more that feeds your mind, try more so it grows your heart, give more to yourself and your horse. Search for the balance in your life.
‘Til next time,
January 11, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 2
This week we are finally getting some snow- about 7” and more on the way!
The crew here has continued delimbing pastures and really made a super effort to clean as many of the 36 guest saddles as they possibly could. They made great progress with only 3 remaining! Then it will be on the bridles, reins, saddlebags and chinks 🙂
Temps have been very kind to us this winter but it looks like a cold front will be moving in this coming week. I expect we will see even more hair on the horses- they are already quite fluffy. One thing for sure, they know how to prepare for a Montana winter!
The elk have returned as well, now that the ground is covered with snow. I think they are in the wings waiting for this to happen as it seems they magically appear with perfect timing to join the horse herd in the hay feast each day.
Des and I have been super busy working on the marketing and office end of things. Maybe you have seen some of the posts on FB and instagram? Stay tuned because there will be a lot more to follow! We have got some exciting things planned for this season.
Kevin’s dad has been visiting him this week and it has been fun to see them hanging out together. It is always so nice to have staff family visiting the ranch!
These are photos that Emily took, in between all of the awesome cooking she does to keep us well fed. We can never say we go away hungry!
Until next time, happy trails,
January 4, 2020 Volume 15, Issue 1
Cozy by the fire…
Not the folks at McGinnis Meadows Ranch! Winter for us is a time for completing some of the bigger projects around the ranch, so we are most always out and about, or busy in the office – but we prefer it that way.
We have a small but very fun group of staff here this winter. Anna, Brenda, Emily, Kevin, Jon and I comprise the crew. Even though the ranch keeps us really busy (and out of trouble, some might add), we still are intent on being the best we can be- and not only with horsemanship, but personally as well. You know the deal- your personal being is a direct correlation to how you interact with the horse, so self-enrichment pays deep dividends on both.
Our staff here is much more than co-workers to each other, we are truly like family. So it is not uncommon that we know a lot about each other. It always interesting to hear what we each are working on, and we try to be supportive whenever we can.
I asked our group to let me in on some of the things they have on their priority list for the near future. Kevin shares with us here what his motivation is for the New Year…
“This winter I decided I was going to challenge myself to better my health and fitness in the hopes it will make myself a better asset to the ranch. So, I decided to focus on three things. One is eating healthy no preservatives/minimal sugar/and no breads. Lots more veggies and proteins!!!!
The second would be doing a 30 day push-up challenge of 100 push ups through out the day. They don’t have to be all at once but now they have to be done by the 18th ( 30 days!)
The third is one I’ve just started which is a twice a day workout/stretching to try and better the rest of my body, not just my arms. I’m on day two of that so we will see how long it lasts. :-)” Nice work Kevin!
As for me, I also am focused on getting back my fitness this winter. XC skiing and lots of it, is on my list (hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate)!
I also have one more focus to add to the study of horsemanship, and that is continuing to expand my skills and knowledge in business. I’ve discovered Udemy, an online platform with a myriad of courses available, and I can’t get enough! So far I have taken an excel course and some marketing courses. It’s great fun and it will continue to help me help the ranch. So much to learn, so little time!
On the ranch and the great outdoors, big kudos go out to Brenda, Anna, Kevin and Emily, the Ace delimbing crew. The West Pasture is now finished and looks pretty darn nice! Next on the agenda is tack cleaning…
Stay tuned next week for more on staff goals.
Until then, happy trails,
December 21, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 48
Winter continues to sparkle here at the ranch. Everyone has been bustling around doing their chores, helping each other out, and being rightfully tired at the end of the day.
Despite the newly fallen snow, Kevin persists with his drive to delimb the west pasture. While it is somewhat futile to try and pick up the sticks once they have fallen and are covered in snow (the already behemoth sticks and branches become excessively heavy) it is still possible to work your way around the trees with a full saw. Thus, Kevin faithfully continues on this project.
Around here we have recently given Kevin a nickname: Kebinezer. This is for the reason that he has decided to dislike Christmas. While the rest of us are happily singing along to the carols on the radio, he likes to pick on us and complain about how many times they’ve played “Frosty the Snowman” in a morning. But we know its all an act. Of course he doesn’t really hate the blessed holiday. We’ll work the jolly spirit out of him yet
Every morning while the radio is one, Brenda and I also like to play a game: the station is full of great old songs sung by famous singers such as Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, and Dean Martin. Whenever a new song comes on, she quizzes me on who is singing. Sometimes I get it right- Brenda always gets it right!
Our saddle cleaning project continues in earnest. Everyone follows the technique that Des taught to us and all of the saddles are returning to their beautiful and gleaming glory. Its great to see what a bit of hard work, oil, and sheepskin can do to transform a dry and dirty saddle into a glowing picture of health.
While everyone will of course be celebrating Christmas on the day, I am returning home to spend time with my family; therefore, we had to celebrate before I go! On Wednesday after work we all gathered at Anna and Emily’s house to sit around their tree, watch Christmas movies, and open presents! One of my very favorite moments of the Christmas season is just getting to watch other people open their presents. It is so special to be excited for others and the little bit of happiness that a token of love and friendship can bring upon them.
Even though I am going away, the good news is that Janice is coming back! She is returning from her vacation and will be back at her post in the office. After spending so much time here, I am sincerely going to miss all of my friends, the work, and of course the horses.
Merry Christmas, friends. I hope it is full of peace, joy, and the very happiest of memories
December 14, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 47
Merry Christmas everyone!
Around here work continues as usual. Lots of chores to do. Lots of projects to continue and complete. But all is well and all is beautiful not that the snow has started to fall!
Earlier this week it was fairly warm and with no snow the team took advantage of the weather and continued the project of delimbing the west pasture. Some of you might remember riding through this piece on the way to or home from the state piece or Shayne’s mountain; when we would ride through it during the season, it would always seem to me to be a very expansive pasture. And, I’ll tell ya, walking around it on foot, picking up fallen branches and debris has only made it seem bigger. But, the work is good and worthwhile for the sake and safety of our beloved ponies.
Every morning it is a delight to step out and see a fresh dusting of snow. Even though it has practically melted once the sun truly comes up, this morning it decided to stick. Never in my life have I lived somewhere so beautiful when it snows. You can see the snow all over the trees, all over the mountains, and all over the horses! It’s a sight to behold- I don’t think that photographs can do it justice.
Another project has been underway in the past days: tack cleaning! Our beautiful saddles are deserving of this attention. We blow them out, wash them thoroughly, and oil them to a shine. It is very satisfying to see the finished product! Once all of the saddle are clean, we will turn our attention to the headstalls, macates, saddle bags, and chinks.
Now that we have a bit of snow, we have already been construing a plan of what sort of snow creation we can make! Of course, a snow horse is our top priority. But, Kevin and I have also been advocating for a snow fort! A great big one with a tunnel structure. Admittedly, we will have to wait on that one for a bit more snow- the couple of inches that we currently have on the ground I’m afraid will not suffice.
Happy trails and Merry Christmas!
December 7, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 46
In the words of Kermit the Frog: “Tis the season to be jolly and joyous!” Merry Christmas everyone! In the midst of our good work here at the ranch, we are readily preparing for the holiday.
This week the crew has been working to take care of a variety of projects. For one, Emily, Janice, and I put together our Christmas gift promotion. We are all very excited about it; I can say from firsthand experience that all of the goodies we will be giving to you are delicious (someone had to test the batch right?). If you’re interested in our Christmas gifts or would like to know more about the goodies we are making feel free to go to the link: https://www.mmgranch.net/special-promotions/.
Apart from that, everyone is busy with their projects. This week has been uncharacteristically warm so our crew is working to delimb the west pasture before the snow hits. In addition, Emily has been busy in the kitchen keeping us all well fed- its safe to say no one will go hungry this winter. As the winter goes on, more horses are being allowed to go barefoot which is a great relief to Anna and Scott. After keeping a full set of shoes on nearly every horse on the ranch all season, they are getting a nice break.
Brenda, too, is working busily on all of her chores. Our herd of fuzzy horses will forever be indebted to her for the devotion she has to them and the care, love, and attention she pours onto each one. Doctoring horses is more than a full time job; our ranch would be lost without Brenda. I am sure that all staff that love her and all guests that know her well would fully agree.
As we continue to celebrate the early stages of the Christmas season, we decided to get ourselves a Christmas tree. Since we live in the forest it is not unlike living inside of a
Christmas tree farm all year round. So, off we went to find us a keeper. We went over Shayne’s mountain and Brenda led us to a spot that she had scouted out for us to find a good one. Instead of coming home with one tree, we came home with three. One for the dining room for everyone to decorate and enjoy, one for Emily and Anna’s house, and a final little tiny tree for me to put up in the office. Once we had the tree we set to decorating! We named him Pete and we think he’s beautiful (we’re unbiased of course).
The snow should be falling for us soon which will complete the feeling of Christmas. I can hardly wait.
Stay warm. Stay safe. Merry Christmas!
November 30, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 45
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
We had quite the finale this week as we wrapped up winter horsemanship for 2019, celebrated Thanksgiving, and prepared to say goodbye to many dear friends.
This week, we had a grand batch of guests come back and stay with us- all made substantial improvement this week in the riding intensive setting of winter horsemanship with Shayne; it was great to see! Ann and Erik brought their horses, Brandy and Buck, to ride while they were here. It’s so special to see how much they are improving with their pretty ponies. Kelly and Lyne came back as well- both had been with us earlier in the season so it was great to welcome them back for the holiday. We also got to welcome back Amy, Nancy, Clive, Helen, and Richard, all of whom have grown to be very good friends to everyone here at McGinnis. Finally, Kevin’s mom, Bronwyn, was able to join us this week- Shayne could not be more delighted with the improvement that she has made.
Of course, since it is winter horsemanship, we spent all week studying- you guessed it- horsemanship. What a worthy and difficult endeavor. There is so much to learn, to study, to ponder and practice. But we have very good teachers in the horses that we have here at McGinnis Meadows. Their patience and gentleness is unparalleled.
For our Thanksgiving feast, we all gathered in the dining room and, well, feasted. And then feasted some more. Our team in the kitchen really outdid themselves this year- Miriam, Emily, Ash, and Anna were miracle workers. We had two different turkeys, prime rib, homemade bread and rolls, and just about every fixin’ that you could ever want to have! So so nice… and delicious. To top it off, there were three different kinds of pie. Despite all the glorious food, my favorite part of the party was at the beginning. To start off the meal, we all had a moment of sharing while we prayed over our meal. Everyone around the table added to the prayer and thanked God for the best things in their lives; it was a really special time.
By next week our staff numbers will be dwindling; Ash, Miriam, Roby, Shayne, and Des will all be heading out for the winter. Very soon Scott will be headed out as well. And finally, Janice will be going away for a couple of weeks for her vacation- I don’t know what I will do without her- it will be very quiet up here in the office. Here’s to hoping and praying that all of our friends travel safely and return back home refreshed and ready for another season.
Thanks to everyone, all of our new and old friends, for the great year we had. It is a joy to have you ride with us.
Stay tuned next week for winter shenanigans
November 23, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 44
As we venture further and further into our winter horsemanship season, I am quickly gaining an understanding of what all the hype is about. This is my first season being able to participate in winter horsemanship- there are so many reasons that it is a special opportunity. Riding in Shayne’s large new arena it creates the perfect environment for rider and horse to particularly focus on what is being taught. Secondly, everything changes when you are surrounded by particularly like-minded individuals; this fosters a real sense of community and camaraderie among all of the riders.
We had a smaller group of guests this week: Lynn was with us for the beginning of the week and Norbert stayed over from the 8-day clinic last week. This week we also got to welcome back our very dear friend Karmen who has been here with us as an intern before.
This week has been special for other reasons too. Rachel and Yaz both came home! It hasn’t been the same around here without them. We’re so glad to have the chance to ride and work and laugh with them again. For just a bit of fun one night, they pulled out their hair straightener and curling iron and went to work on the boy’s shaggy heads. Kevin had his hair straightened and Scott had his curled. Caleb had the good sense to steer clear of the whole deal- it was all so much fun.
Also, this week Emily came home! She went home for six weeks and is now back to stay for the winter- she will be our chef all winter while Miriam is away. From the sheer amounts of delicious food she has made for us in the past, I am sure that we will all be well fed this winter.
In horsemanship we have been working a lot on energy at the walk, leg-yielding, and attaining proper flexion in our horses. On Thursday afternoon, after warming up all of the horses and without a direction, everyone started to fall in line behind Shayne and Des as they went single file around the arena. It was really cool to see; everyone in an ant line, leg yielding, changing direction, and making transitions. After that, Shayne picked up his canter so every body else followed suit. At one point everyone, about 12 people, were cantering around the arena with proper spacing and on the correct lead- to top it off we were all cantering with the reins in only one hand. It was amazing!
Following this opportunity to move the horses out, we worked a lot on very quietly attaining proper flexion in our horses. It was a beautiful sight: all the horses moving around the arena with softness. The arena was silent because of how lightly the horses were stepping as they were ridden in balance. The whole of the afternoon was wonderful because of Shayne’s ability to match the exercises to the needs of all of the horses.
Thursday of this week was Des’ birthday! I love being able to celebrate birthdays with people because it is a great opportunity to be intentionally grateful for them- to take a moment and really reflect on how blessed you are to have them in your life. I know I can speak for all staff and interns here at the ranch when I say that the place would not be the same without her; her devotion and sincerity are unparalleled. She is industrious, she is clever, she is kind. Finally, she is constantly pushing all of us to be better. I am so grateful to have someone like her to look up to in this worthy journey of horsemanship.
Next week we will have a great celebration for Thanksgiving! I am excited for many reasons, one of which being that I have always loved Thanksgiving at home with my family so it will be a delight to be able to celebrate with the family I have found here at the ranch. In addition to it being our Thanksgiving week, next week is also our last week of the season. It is a little bit surreal to be ending; the past couple of months seem to have flown right by.
Until next time, Friends.
November 16, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 43
When I asked our guests who just participated in the MMR eight day horsemanship clinic what the highlight was for them, I heard after a moment of thought, “ Well, everything!” Each guest had the same answer, which was pretty cool to hear.
They worked really hard from day one to study a feel and what their horse was thinking. It was probably one of the best sessions in terms of study, that I have been witness to since I have been at the ranch.
Staff and interns were able to take time out from our normal daily activities to ride with Shayne, Des and the guests and it was awesome! Speaking for myself, I learned more these past two weeks, or I should say I absorbed more, than I have in a long time. There has been a lot of discussion about what it takes to make a change. The first thing to realize is that the change has to be made within ourselves, before we ever can think about changing our horses. THIS is the hard part! Once you find a way to do that, everything else begins to fall into place.
Guests had a lot of fun working on getting their horses balanced, and moving them out. Tina gained a ton of confidence while cantering. This has been a personal goal for her and by the end of the clinic, she was cantering all over the arena and bringing Booker back to the trot and walk in a soft feel.
Ann rode her mare Brandy and Shayne couldn’t say enough about how far they have come together. Brandy was a challenge in her earlier years but you would never know it watching the two of them go through progressions, walk, trot, canter transitions, and the 180 exercise. Brandy was so relaxed during the demo’s that Ann had to keep walking her around so she didn’t doze off!
Norbert has been coming to the ranch for years, but something in his riding changed this time. He was riding much more relaxed and really waiting on his horses to turn loose to him. Same for Ray…Ray has his young colt Dusty here in training, but he wanted to ride a ranch horse so he could feel what things should be like on a more advanced snaffle bit horse. He rode both Catman and Jasper in away that they were reaching for him and feeling of him and it was very cool to see the evolution in his riding.
Lynn G. joined us again and she got to work more on her progressions leading up to the canter, and then cantering diagonals, straight lines and circles. Lynn has made a ton progress in her riding over the past year, and this eight day clinic really solidified several aspects. She and Norbert must have had fun riding because they are both staying to ride with us next week :-).
Shayne and Des really did a great job of coaching all of us through any trouble spots we were having and also to work on things that would bring us each to the next level. This eight day clinic came right on the heels of Buck’s Whitefish clinic and I have to think that they were a little worn from being on the go—but you’d never know it because their focus level just doesn’t change. This is perhaps the best lesson to be learned. Caleb, our newest intern, demonstrated that he can focus quite well. After only eight days of riding with us, his seat changed dramatically and his horses were moving out and looking happy.
We also welcomed back Roby this week after his stint on the road with Buck and he will be here until the ranch goes on ‘vacation’ for the months of December and January. There are still spots open for winter horsemanship in 2020- we will reopen Feb 16th and the program runs through Mid April. If you are serious about improving not only your riding, but the understanding behind what your horse is thinking, you’ll want to check it out.