Guy McLean – A Quiet Way With Horses and Words
April 16, 2013: Guy McLean and his horses have returned to the Priefert Ranch, his home base in Texas, after an incredible two and a half months on the road. His journey has seen the Australian horseman earn his second championship at the Road To The Horse, a colt-starting competition at the Kentucky Horse Park that challenges the best horse trainers from Canada, Australia and the US to start young horses under saddle over three days.
This latest tour also brought Guy and his ‘Quietway’ team of horses - Sequel, Hope and Spinabbey - as well as his mount from last year’s Road To The Horse, Aussie, to Orangeville to perform at the CanAm Equine Emporium, where he joined headliners Stacey Westfall and Jonathan field. Many of the 10,000 people through the gates were meeting the Australian horseman for the first time.
For Aussie, a three-year old quarter horse gelding, it was only his third ride of his life working with the team at liberty. As Guy wrote later on his Facebook page, “To be able to educate this wonderful youngster in the morning and showcase my finished horses in the afternoon and then be able to bridge the gap between them in as little as three days, just proves to me once again how incredible these wonderful animals are.”
The humble horseman seems to forget that his talent may have something to do with the performance. To him, the credit always goes to the horse.
For Guy, true horsemanship is about belief and vision. As he told talk show host Rick Lamb in an interview, the key to his performances is high expectations. His original performance stallion, Nugget, showed Guy what horses could do. Guy didn’t know you could canter along without a bridle or saddle, carrying a tarp. Now he knows; now he expects the same effort from every horse as he got from Nugget.
The world’s best horseman expect their horses to do canter changes every stride, to slide and to spin, said Guy. The world’s worst horsemen expect to get bucked off or bitten or kicked, and the horse says, ‘Okay, I will’.
Guy’s signature move in his entertaining performance comes when he asks one of his four horses to lie down while he straddles his other three horses overtop, bullwhips cracking, crowd cheering.
The horses willingly respond to his cues, effortlessly focused and seemingly glad for any chance to nap. That’s how he trains them: he disciplines them through physical work. Their reward is to stand still. They say, “let’s just stand still because if we have too much energy he’ll make us work.” He teases during the performance about how lazy Aussie can be, and how gladly the young horse will find ways to minimize his energy output.
Guy’s motto reads, “Finding a Better Way,” with Knowledge, Compassion, Patience, and Imagination. Habits are built by doing things again and again, and when he works with his horses he tries to be the same every day and he expects the same from them. While he strives for consistency he will not hesitate to try out something new, but any ‘better way’ needs to make sense to every horse, so he’ll try a new idea on his team before taking it to other horses.
Guy has a way with words as well as horses, reciting his Australian Bush Poetry to fans who have started asking for more. Australian Stockmen often couldn’t read or write but they could recite stories that would tell about the bush or a tough horse or tough cattle. Guy enjoys sharing his versions of folklore with his fans. “It’s one thing to touch people’s funny bone and make them laugh but if you can touch their heart you’ll touch them forever. With my bush poetry I like to share a little bit of that. “
One of his latest poems reads:
"It's impossible," said pride.
"It's risky," said experience.
"It's pointless," said reason.
"Give it a try," whispered the heart.
As he settles in for a well-deserved rest, Guy writes on his Facebook page, “From the World Arena in Kentucky, to the ski slopes of Canada, to the rolling hills of Mt Pleasant Texas, my Horseman's Path continues to astound me with the sights and sounds, relationships and memories it presents me with and I cannot wait to see where it takes us tomorrow…Australia will always be home but I want the world to see how wonderful horses can be when we understand them and I need to be here where my message will travel to the world.”
©2013 K. Dallimore. All Rights Reserved.