The Highline Blog
vibe about this group. Also, one of our long time friends and guests, Joy, has returned to the ranch! We are very excited to have her with us. She has three of her adorable personal horses here, Cisco and Hildago and Angel. Lynn N. also returned this week. Her horse, Andy, has been in training with Roby and she finally got to come ride him this week! And boy did she ride him, Roby had her doing everything from jingling the horses out to climbing the mountain to look for cattle. Her and Andy seemed to get along really well, and she’s very excited to bring him back to her home soon.
We continued with the task of moving cattle from our pasture land on Shayne’s mountain to the state piece. It’s getting harder to find the cattle on Shayne’s mountain because there are only a few left. Our guests did a fabulous job at moving all the cattle we did find though. Our Guests Camella, Nadejda, Carol, Kim, Morgan and Kelly really took this job on. They got several groups of cattle down off the mountain and onto the state piece. They are some tough cowgirls! We only have 9 steers left on Shayne’s Mountain now, so the work will continue next week.
with your body and not being so dependent on your reins for steering. You really have to have a high level of body awareness to be able to do this; but, It’s so much fun when you finally can guide the horse without the reins, you feel like you can go anywhere and do anything. The interns and guests who decided to stick with horsemanship really seemed to have fun. Beth really improved as the week went on; Her and Mighty were an awesome duo to watch, they really seemed to get along. Wendy, Kendall and Joy also really took to the horsemanship. It was very cool to see how everyone improved as the week went on.
On Thursday this week, many of the guests joined Anna Banana, our farrier, back in the forge for a half-day shoeing demo. These demo’s are very informative, about everything from anatomy of the horse’s hoof, to the actual process of fitting and tacking on a shoe. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it. In addition, we also got to watch Anna Banana trim one of Shayne and Des’ colts, Buzz. Des did a demo about how you prepare a young horse to have his feet done. It was very interesting to see how much work it takes to get a colt to where they are safe for the farrier.
June 22, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 23
This week at McGinnis Meadows has been filled with extremes: from moments of taking cover from large and looming thunderstorms to relaxing and laughter filled evenings around the fire- its been a great week. We got to welcome some old and good friends this
week as well: the Klipsch family was here for more cattle fun and horsemanship. In addition, Kara and Carol brought their horses with them for a third annual week of horsemanship training.
One of the major priorities of this week was to move cattle from Shayne’s mountain over to our state section. The Klipsch boys took on this project full force- with the help of Roby, Scott, and Shayne they devoted themselves to cattle work. At the end of the week nearly 100 steers had been moved! The boys also are great fisherman; whenever they were not horseback they were off catching fish out of Shayne’s pond or the creek. They even taught a couple of our interns their technique!
Although the first day of summer has come and gone, it doesn’t quite feel like it here in Montana; with all the rain this week, the normally sunny afternoons gave way to clouds and wind. However, all the weather we rode through during the day did give everyone great appetites for Miriam’s masterpiece of a meal every night. This week alone we were treated to crème brûlée, key lime pie, and chocolate mouse. And of course, Rachel is always baking to keep the cookie jar stocked- even though I’m afraid it’s a losing battle. We all eat the cookies too quickly! Her problem would be solved if she did not make us such delicious treats 😉
Horsemanship this week was, as always, a great time to learn and grow in our education; Des led a lot of the horsemanship classes in the indoor arena where we all worked on being excessively consistent with our horses in a soft feel. As we moved around the arena, we were charged to pick up a soft feel on our sweet ponies, ride with quality, and then reward the horses with a loose rein and peace. The slow pace at which we were able to practice all of this vital work was highly beneficial for everyone present.
The ranch horses here at McGinnis Meadows never cease to amaze us with their gentleness and ability; we are truly grateful for the opportunity to learn from such beautiful teachers. We got to welcome our newest intern, Bailey, into the fold this week. She is quickly learning the value of the horses that she has been allowed to ride as she adjusts to life at the ranch.
Well, another week has come to a close. We sadly exchange goodbyes with our friends as they go home and hope they come back to visit us soon. This week we have to say goodbye to our old friend, Bernie Ziegner. After staying for three weeks he is headed on back home. While we are purposefully here to learn from the horses, it is evident that we learn almost as much from the wonderful people we have the joy to meet along the way.
June 16, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 22
What an exciting and eclectic week!
I’ll try to remember everything in order here…
This was one of a handful of “off-weeks” this summer at the ranch. These weeks are open to stayover guests (we had two, Bernie and Lynn) and our focus during these weeks is on our internship program, continued education for our wranglers, catching up on ranch projects and re-riding through our guest string.
I’ve been riding a client horse named Romeo, and I also had the pleasure of having his owner, Kathy, stay here for the week to ride him before taking him home.
We had one wild steer on our Ferguson pasture, and had thrown a handful of steers in the big mountain pasture to try to lure him to join up with the group. But spotting him and bringing the small herd to him each day was a task that involved climbing tall mountains and riding through tough, brushy country! Romeo confidently took Kathy all over the mountains and never missed a step. She did all of the advanced horsemanship maneuvers with him in the arena and even got to work cattle with him towards the end of the week! The two of them got along famously and I’m excited for the two of them.
By the way…ultimately, it was Janice and our guest Lynn who finally spotted the cattle all together as a group and were able to get them off the mountain—a tricky task! With the help of Sue and interns Josie and Dani, the herd was finally relocated to the other side of the valley. GREAT JOB LADIES!
Shannon Lawlor did some paintings for Shayne and I of our horses and she came over from Canada to hand-deliver them to us! We were able to host her overnight and she was able to spend some time with us taking photos and watching the riding/horsemanship/cattle work.
Speaking of cattle work…We had a private 3-day clinic with Doug Jordan, National Cutting Horse Association hall of fame rider! Randy, Shayne and I were Doug’s students, and we were joined by Kathy on Romeo, and a several interns and wranglers who either audited, or held herd.
The clinic was SOOOO informative and Doug worked with us both on the cutting ball and on cattle. As a student of Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt, Doug was like a kindred soul to everything we work towards at the ranch with our horses and in our horsemanship. Everything was approached with a feel and with the horse’s expression, willingness and comfort at the forefront. We are so excited to practice what we’ve learned and to share the knowledge with our guests too!
Roby has been away at Buck’s colt starting in Sherdian. He called me this afternoon and said it went great and that he was able to start 4 colts who all came along really nicely.
It sure is nice to be able challenge ourselves in our horsemanship journey in order to expand our potential in what we have to offer the horses. I’m loving every minute of it!
Till next time,
Hey there everyone,
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.
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!
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!
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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,
May 18, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 19
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.
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
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 🙂
May 18, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 19
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!
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.
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.
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!
May 11, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 18
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!)
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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,
April 20, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 16
Warmer weather this week has surfaced at the ranch along with more rain. The horses are starting to look sleeker day by day!
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!
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!
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!
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.