The Highline Blog

A Hard Days Work….


Volume 16, Issue 22

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”

-Winston Churchill-

This week has been such a whirlwind! We finally finished up a long two weeks of haying and the hay crew did a heck of a job getting the meadows mowed and bailed and packed away nice and neatly in our hay barns.

Nolan Bailing hay off in the sunset

Master Shoer Tommy Kilgore also arrived this week to mentor Kevin and Scott as they worked through our herd of 90 horses, getting each and everyone trimmed and shoed. It’s always such a great time when Tommy comes to visit as he is a wealth of knowledge and always has such great stories to tell. We truly enjoy having him at the ranch.

Emily stringing up fence

On top of all of that there are always more projects to be done and this gal got to get out of the office and kitchen for a bit and get on the fencing crew to put up some new fence lines in our cattle grazing areas. I love learning new tasks and fencing is no exception! Each day was more grueling than the last but boy did I slept well!

Hauling out fence posts for the job

No one every said moving out to Montana and working on a ranch would be easy. In fact, most people enjoy pointing out just how difficult ranch life can be. For me, the constant challenges that pop up daily from cooking meals on the fly to joining in on the fence crew putting up new fence are what I live for. I thrive on a hard days work and take pride in every task I do, as does every member of the McGinnis Team. We are ranchers. We are cowboys.


Until Next Time…



Discipline, Discipline, Discipline

Volume 16, Issue 21

“Discipline isn’t a dirty word. Far from it. Discipline is the one thing that separates us from chaos and anarchy. Discipline implies timing. It’s the precursor to good behavior, and it never comes from bad behavior. People who associate discipline with punishment are wrong: with discipline, punishment is unnecessary.”
Buck Brannaman-

Buck going over the afternoon class with riders

 As I look back on the past two weeks that we all just spent with the master himself, Buck Brannaman, I am reminded of just how long the journey to becoming a great horseman is. How long is that you ask? Well to put it into perspective Buck told us that he was still chasing that dream and that it would forever be a lifelong endeavor. I expected no different answer from him and it made me smile, knowing that I am on the right path. The journey down the road to great horsemanship starts with one tiny step forward and an open mind. You must be willing to fail time and time again and learn from your failures, only then will you start to take more steps forward. You must also learn to control your emotions and realize that frustration has no place on the back of a horse. If something isn’t working then you must realize that there is a disconnect between human and horse and that maybe you need to come at it from a different angle to try and connect the lines. It’s never the horses’ fault, only the rider. So we, as riders need to listen more to what the horse is trying to teach us.

Emily and Nigel

Buck worked with us on exactly this. He hammered home how important it was to listen and feel of the horse. He worked with us on allowing the horses feet to become extensions of our own. “His feet are my feet” he’d say as he rode around the arena weaving in and out of other riders with his arms crossed, steering with only his legs.

We would all then set off trying to mimic what he had just shown us and while we were all trying so hard to not use our reins the class looked more like a carnival game of bumper cars than a choreographed dance at first, but everyone remained disciplined in their task and before you knew it the majority of the class had their arms folded and were weaving in and out of one another with big smiles on their faces. As Shayne and Des always tell us, “Trust the process”.

Guests Laurie and Kim

We had an amazing two weeks with some amazing people. Life stories were shared with one another and support given in everyone’s on going journey. It’s amazing to me that people can come from all walks of life to share one common passion. Once you are on that horse it matters not where you came from, it only matters what you do in that moment with your horse.

Here’s to another wonderful year with Buck and we can’t wait for next year and to see Bucks big rig roll on down our McGinnis Meadows driveway once more.

Group Photo!


Summer time Adventures with old friends…


July 19th 2021 Volume 16, Issue 21

Hey everybody!

Maddog here!

We have been enjoying the long summer days here at the ranch. Longer days means more daylight for more adventures.

Over the past few weeks we have been getting ready for the Buck Brannaman clinics here at the ranch. So you can imagine we have been crazy busy prepping for his arrival. We have been making sure the arena is extra clean, preparing cabins for guests, wrapping up projects and riding the ponies!

We were all very excited for Buck’s arrival and ready to absorb everything he had to teach like a sponge. I have to say it was surreal watching Buck ride in the arena I have spent almost everyday in for nearly 3 years now. The crew and I lined up along the arena fence as we watched Buck ride in our new indoor arena for the first time. We were completely still and silent as Buck danced with his horse to his playlist. 😁

After Buck’s opening ride we brought in our guest horses and bridled them all as they stood in a perfect circle at the center of the arena. The guests mounted and the clinics began! Our clinic days consisted of horsemanship in the indoor arena, then out to the big outdoor arena for some cattle work. It was so fun to watch the guests improve and figure out how to operate around mischievous steers. Overall our first group who attended the first ranch clinic did fantastic and were a blast to be around. For the following clinic, Shayne & Des headed into Kailspell for 3 more days of horsemanship at the Majestic Arena clinic. We are about to start our next clinic here at the ranch and we’ve got a whole new crowd of guests to teach and I’m excited to watch how far they will come.

With the end of July approaching, comes haying season. That means our hay sheds will soon be stacked to the roof with fresh feed. Along with our beautiful meadows trimmed and square hay bales sitting in perfect rows. Add in one of our summer sunsets and it looks like a movie scene.

And so the journey continues………….



Eager and Willing, New Intern Perspective

June13th 2021 Volume 16, Issue 20

Hi Everyone!

Alex Here,

I am a new intern at McGinnis Meadows, and I will be writing the high line today to tell you all about what has been happening at the ranch lately!

I recently started my internship last week at the ranch to learn more about the Buck Brannaman style and approach of horsemanship, ranching business, and the active lifestyle that is apart of them both. I came to McGinnis Meadows because I wanted learn the Buck Brannamn style and approach of horsemanship in a ranch setting, and this program develops people both professionally and personally. That’s something that makes it great!

So what been going on at the ranch?!

To start, last Tuesday (which was the first day of my internship), we all drove cattle from different parts of the ranch to the corrals to count them up and doctor them.They were everywhere and we rode out in small groups to find them all! There was one pesky steer that got away, had to be found, and then brought back to the corrals.

Lazy Days

The Seattle Mounted Police Unit also came to the ranch last week to practice and refine their horsemanship so they can deploy at a moments notice wherever they are needed with their horses in Seattle. They’re a great group of people, and they all did an excellent job riding and learning!

Nik and Boone

The arena horsemanship done here has very high attention to detail when being taught by Shayne and Des. They have eagle eyes and fox ears when it comes to seeing and hearing everything you do as a rider, and that makes them see what you are familiar with and what you need to work on. Shayne, Des, and the wrangler crew are all great teachers and have helped me and all the interns improve our horsemanship a lot in the past few days. I have never met a team of horseman and horsewomen that can teach as effectively and efficiently at an accelerated rate like that, and that is something special and unique. They all truly care about developing each and every horse and rider to be their best, and be set up for success.

Sophie and Trouble

Well that is all for now. There will be much more to write on next time from horses, to cattle, and riding on the mountain!

Happy trails,



The View from the Top at McGinnis

May 24th, 2021 Volume 16, Issue 19

Scott here!

We ended our second 10-day this past week with 13 guests with an assortment of riding backgrounds. We did horsemanship to start the week out strong, focusing on the fundamentals and the importance of getting life in our horses and how it applies to moving cattle. We then moved cattle from Shayne’s pasture to the Joanne Wallace piece. We had two groups go out at

Guest Amy looking great!

separate times and were able to get all 227 head of cattle moved in 1 day! To end the week out we took a beautiful scenic all day ride to the top of one of the mountains where Emily, Chris and Levi had a fire pit set up with hotdogs for everyone to roast. It was a great way to finish up a good week.

Weanie Roast!

After the guests left I was able to finish up rest of Shayne’s mountain fence line while Levi and Chris took

care of Ferguson and the other ranch fences. The views can always be a reward doing the fence and it’s really one of my favorite things to do on the ranch. Being out on the top of the mountain with that clean air and big blue sky really is something special.

Well, that’s all I have for this week. Maybe next time I can tell you all about how Emily has been training me to help prep in the kitchen!



Fence Building Fun at McGinnis Meadows!

May 11th, 2021 Volume 16, Issue 18

Up, up, up we go!

Down the mountain and up again and back down and up again!

Spring is in full swing and cattle are on the ranch. That means making sure fences are up to par so the wranglers don’t have to chase loose livestock around the mountains. For the past few weeks Scott, Levi and myself have been making the

Chris and Levi going over their daily plan

rounds around the meadow and graze pasture fences making repairs and shoring up damaged lines. We had a few big wind storms over the winter which means there is no shortage of downed trees and limbs to cut up and haul off. This means packing in tools and saws while hiking the fences, it’s one heck of a workout but there’s no better way to get to know the pastures.

The current big project is building and repairing fence in all the cattle grazing areas, miles of it. The days usually start out packing chainsaws while following a trail of

Levi headed down to check fence

flagging tape laid out by Randy the day before, clearing any downed trees and thick brush as we go. Then we’ll pull the wire, set posts, tie everything in and get it tensioned. Levi and I have gotten a good method down, efficiency is they key to minimize the number of round trips up and down the mountain on foot packing supplies. The views keep getting better and better the higher we go, while there’s still some snow on the higher ridges the valley becomes greener everyday with the warmer weather. You can’t ask for a better office. If you’re visiting us keep a close eye up on the mountain sides, you just might spot the two Texas boys rappelling down a fence line in NW Montana.

Until next time,

Multitasking at McGinnis!

May 5th, 2021 Volume 16, Issue 17


Howdy Friends!

Emily seasoning up some burgers!

Emily here! You’re neighborhood friendly multitasker. I have been busy at work partaking in many activities here on the ranch this past week and as always, loving every moment of it. I have continued my duties each night as cook, making sure this incredibly hard working crew of ours gets fed and never leaves for the night without a full stomach of hearty yet healthy food. I get asked often how I come up with my menus and how I create healthy versions of hearty ranch style recipes. For me its all about having high quality, clean ingredients to work with. That means using as few processed items as possible. This allows me to know exactly what is going into my food. This crew works hard and they play even harder so high proteins and clean carbs and calories help to keep them going (that and the cowboy coffee!).

Des and Maddie getting the job done!

In addition to keeping everyone fed I have also been learning the office and everything that goes with it. It has been a huge shift for me to swap from cooking to office duties but I like to think of it as adding another arrow to my quiver. If any of you have met me before you know I LOVE to learn new things so when Shayne and Des asked me if I’d be game to learn I said “heck yeah!”. One of my favorites parts about this new endeavor is that I get to talk to everyone who calls to inquire about the ranch and why it is so special to everyone here. I’ve really enjoyed the process thus far.

Randy ready to head a steer

Another exciting part of my week was that I was able to get out of the lodge to help out in the branding pen. I had the privilege of working both horseback holding feet and on the ground crew branding cattle. Janice, who is our branding pro, taught me how to properly find the sweet spot to lay the brand and how to properly place the irons as not to scald the steer. She takes such pride in her brands, as do we all, and there’s this great level of satisfaction one feels when the steer pops up and you watch as they trot off with a perfectly placed and executed brand. This was my second year on ground crew, with half the amount of people, and I need to say that it ran just as well if not smoother even with less bodies. The ground crew, led by Brenda, was smooth and precise and their communication was on point. Not a single steer got up on them and thats beyond impressive considering the size of these steers, the largest weighing in at 895 pounds!

Ground Crew

Branding has finally come to a close for us here at the ranch and now we shift our focus to pasture maintenance, fencing, and preparation for out second group of 10-day horsemanship guests coming in this weekend. That’s my cue folks! Time to get back to work.

Until next time…

Emily 🙂

Whiskey Helping Emily keep track of her list

Maddie giving some love to her boy Shamrock


Branding has Begun!

April 28th, 2021 Volume 16, Issue 16

Hey Everyone!

Maddog and Em here!

Some Horsemanship in the Meadows

We had a super successful first 10 day at the ranch. We kicked off our season with a fantastic group of people. Everyone who joined us was incredibly enjoyable to be around and it was fun swapping stories at the end of each long productive day. We genuinely enjoyed listening to everyone’s reasons for coming to the ranch. We noticed one thing in common with everyone; they were looking to change their life. Horses and life truly are the same, just like Buck Brannaman himself states. Watching this group of people change and grow and become more confident with themselves over the last ten days has been truly awesome.

Emily the Cook Cowboying up!

As soon as our ten-day wrapped up, we got started roping and branding our newest batch of cattle. So far, everyone has been kicking some serious cowboy butt! Even the cook is out of the kitchen and horseback to aid in holding feet! At the rate we are going, we will have all 227 head branded by Friday. It’s been so much fun to have a serious job to do horseback. And the ponies enjoy it too!

Des and Lefty

Branding is always one of our favorite times of the year because it gives us an opportunity to apply everything we have been working on all winter. This might be one of the greenest roping crews the ranch has ever had but under Shayne’s guidance each and every person has been able to really get into the thick of it too get a job done, and done well. We both are so proud and excited for everyone to have the opportunity to learn and grown and get handy in such a safe and secure setting.

Kevin and Dazzle and Scotty and Yellowhair

Well that’s it for this highline addition. We have more steers to brand!

Until Next time,
Em and Maddog

Our Guest Dale cooked us all a farewell dinner

Sunshine, Smiles, and Steers at McGinnis!

April 18th, 2021 Volume 16, Issue 15

Howdy Everyone!

Cattle waiting for the feed truck

As the days get longer and the sun shines brighter the ranch has come alive with our first group of guests who have joined us for our first 10-day horsemanship stay of the year. Their experience in the saddle varies from those who ride daily to those who have barely been on a horse before, but they all share a great eagerness to learn all they can while they are here. It’s been a joy thus far sharing stories and experiences with them all.

Des going over the cattle work plan with guests


Meet Brooke!

With guests returning that means that things are heating up in the kitchen (no pun intended). I have been busy getting back into the full swing of a guest week but thankfully our wonderful new working intern Brooke has been assisting me. She has been helping out with maintaining the lodge and cabins and has started working in the kitchen with me prepping our large evening meals. She has such a bright attitude and has been a joy to work with.

Levi, Kev and Scotty hard at work

Our second batch of cattle arrived this week and yesterday we tagged and vaccinated them with the help of our guests. The sun was shining bright and the 70-degree temp was incredibly welcome. It looks like spring might finally be here! Kevin, Levi and Scott, with the assistance of several of our guests, were like a well-oiled machine running the cattle shoot with perfect timing and precision. We ended the day with a classic BBQ meal of slow roasted pulled pork sandwiches with baked beans and coleslaw with cold refreshing watermelon for dessert. As a cook you always know that your food must be good if all you hear during supper is the clinking of forks on plates combined with the sight of people going up for seconds.

Until next time my friends,

Emily 🙂

Shayne with Cooley and Sparky over seeing the Cattle arrival


Cattle Season Has Begun!


April 10th, 2021 Volume 16, Issue 14

Greetings everyone,

The ranch has experienced just about all four seasons this past week. Snowy days, bluebird sunshine and warmth, and today it is sleeting! We do know that spring and summer will be arriving- it is just a question of when.

There is a reason he is named ‘Trouble”!

An exciting event each year is the arrival of our new yearling Black Angus steers. The first of the group came in on Wednesday, with a total of 76. All in all we should have about 250 this season, which is about thirty more than in the past.

This group looks stellar! All have nice weight, (the average was 695!) and are so far, very quiet and willing to move where they are guided. As with humans, cattle can go through phases, so we will see if this behavior holds! Yesterday we put the cattle through the chute and got them all shiny new ear tags. Then they moved on to the weigh scale for us to gather their individual base weights.

From here on in, weighing’s will be compared for monitoring purposes so that we know if they are gaining as they should be.

We are getting ready to welcome in our first official 2021 Ten-day guest stay. This afternoon guests will


arrive and they will get to spend the next ten days riding and experiencing ranch life. We are thrilled to be back in action here at MMR and looking forward to a season filled with laughter, making new friends and seeing old ones.

Have a great week ahead!


Fine bunch of steers!

Shayne overseeing the process