The Highline Blog
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.
November 9, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 42
This past week at MMR was a whirlwind!
Buck returned to Whitefish, MT to teach his Horsemanship 2 and Cow working/roping classes at Standing Heart Ranch. This is a special invitational clinic sponsored by Shayne and Dave Gamble, and one of the most advanced in the country that Buck does. I was able to attend to audit along with our intern Maddie. What a treat! There is always so much to observe and learn watching Buck ride Eddie and his green colt Manny. Shayne, Des and Roby all represented MMR in the clinic and it was equally fun watching them.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s clinic which will be held in July, following our ranch clinics. If this is something you would be interested in seeing stay tuned for more info or contact me at Janice@mmgranch.net
We arrived back to the ranch on Thursday just in time to welcome our new guests coming in for the 8 day horsemanship clinic! We have 8 guests and interns participating, plus our wranglers and so far it has been amazing. Shayne has everyone really bearing down on the progressions to take a horse through each day, and being sure to move up through the checklist to test things out. Moving back down the list is equally important if there are spots that need to be worked on.
The study never gets any less. The better the rider’s timing and feel get, the crisper the movements become. For me, this doesn’t come easy but each day I work on studying the horse’s feet, my body position and how soft I can pick up on them each time. My brain hurts by the end of the day but in a good way…and the horses really like it!
The rest of the ranch continues to operate in winter prep mode. We welcomed in our new ranch hand Jon last week and he has already been a big help. We also welcomed Caleb, who is from Libby and will be interning with us through the month of November. In just two days his riding has already improved significantly, and he is very focused student.
Winter horsemanship here at the ranch is really quite special. There are a few spots remaining in Feb- April, so if you want to get a jump on your spring riding, or are curious to see what it is all about, give us a call or email us at email@example.com and we will be happy to tell you all about it!
Have a great week ahead,
November 2, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 41
We are starting to feel the change in the season here at the ranch. Yes, it has been cold and you know that winter is coming, but even more so, the vibe that the ranch takes on this time of year is very special in its own way. The quietness, more relaxed pace and an intensive focus on raising our riding abilities seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Staff has really been focused on taking advantage of the clear weather to finish cleaning up the pastures, tend to the remaining burn piles, vehicle winterizing and everything else that goes along with preparation for whatever Mother Nature will bring us.
The horses are getting fuzzier each day it seems- already I have to do a double take with some of them as their colors change with the addition of their newly grown hair.
Many of them have had their front shoes pulled and soon their hinds will be barefoot and too. They are not the only ones getting ready- Trouble, Lily and Sophie our well loved ranch kitties, are fluffing up quite a bit as too. They welcome the attention this time of year and as always Trouble is quick on
the draw when he sees a guest with an open door to their cabin- or the lodge for that matter!
We had Nancy and Jodi here with us this week as first timers learning this style of horsemanship. Nancy has been riding much of her life with quite a bit of experience in dressage and English riding. Jodi is new to having horses in her life and came to the ranch excited to learn as much as she could. Both could not have been better students. I had the opportunity to work with them a lot this week in horsemanship and boy was it fun! The difference in ability level, actually fueled the learning curve and it was a very productive week. We often say that beginners learn quite fast because they have no bad habits. It sure seems to be true and Jodi was no exception. She studied hard, and her seat improved dramatically over the course of the week. She even cantered on Mighty and Bob before the week was out! Nancy worked equally as hard to make some shifts in her seat position and how she used her body while riding. She got along famously with Booker all week and had him really looking soft and willing. Nancy liked this style of riding so much that she has already made plans to visit us again on Thanksgiving and several times next year. We can’t wait to see her again!
Shayne and Des are packing up as I write this to leave for Whitefish for Buck’s final US clinic of the season. It is the most advanced clinic he holds and always a great one to audit. We’ll also get to see Roby again- he has been on the road with Buck and of course will be at this clinic as well. Maddie and I are beyond excited to be able to audit the clinic and we’ll be sure to give everyone a full report upon our return 🙂
Just a reminder, we still have some space available for the winter horsemanship program in Feb- April. Give us a call if you want to join us for a memorable learning experience. 406-293-5000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
October 26, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 41
What a monumental week we have had at McGinnis Meadows 🙂
Foremostly, our herd of steers left the ranch on Wednesday. With great circumstance and celebration the entirety of the herd were brought up to the corrals for a final time in the scales. Once through the scales, they were all inspected by our brand inspector and prepared to be shuttled onto the truck. After watching over these boys and working with them all summer long it was a bit of a sad moment to see them all packed up and moving away.
However, there is consolation in the knowledge that these steers had the best life they could have possibly had. For a whole season they were given freedom to roam over our many mountains and meadows surrounding the ranch. We had a great season with them and are happy to report that all 218 head completed the season healthy and sound.
Following the departure of our steers, all of the staff around here had a bit of celebration after work. The activity: pumpkin carving! Anna and Ash invited everyone over to carve pumpkins at their house. Afterward we watched a movie. In the midst of our busy days it gave us all a good time and some fun laughs.
For the rest of the week it is all hands on deck as we prepare the ranch for the winter transition. Anna, Ash, Kevin, Scott, Brenda, and Maddie are all working very hard to prepare the winter pasture. They are going through and delimbing a lot of trees and clearing away the brush to ensure that when the horses go in that pasture for the winter time they will be safe. Other projects around the ranch include closing down the saddling barn and taking down our big white tent.
Up in the office this week, Janice and I have the great opportunity to work with our accountant, Nancy. She is visiting for the week and has been exceedingly helpful in streamlining some of our policies and procedures to make everyone’s stay the best it can be.
As we are moving further into winter horsemanship, a lot of the horses are being changed from a full set of shoes to a half set. They will have front shoes until a bit later in the year when many of them will go barefoot. Anna and Scott, our farrier extraordinaires, could not be more delighted. After keeping our herd well shod and sound all season they will get a bit of a break.
I am going to take a moment for a little bit of staff recognition. Anna-Bananna is a very dear friend to everyone here at the ranch. She is the hardest worker you will find and is exceedingly dedicated to the excellence of her trade. In a very real sense she binds us all together; her generosity, thoughtfulness, and aptitude for laughter make her priceless.
Well, everyone, next week we’ll be back to a bit more horsemanship as we dive into our winter program! Yayayaya! Stay tuned for the tid bits of wisdom that will inevitably follow as we soak in all that Shayne and Des are teaching.