AN AUSSIE HORSE WHISPERER
Pip Courtney and Nance Haxton
Today I feature something different. Hope you enjoy this story about AN AUSSIE HORSE WHISPERER.
Two years ago Queensland horseman Guy McLean moved to Texas in the United States.
He went with his wife, a team of Australian stock horses and big dreams of making a living as a 'horse whisperer' in the country that invented the term.
He has returned home a superstar after taking the US horse world by storm.
His break came quickly when he won 'The Road to the Horse' competition in March 2012.
A showcase for gentle horse-breaking methods, it is one of the most prestigious horsemanship events in the US, with only three or four top trainers invited to compete.
Each competitor chooses an unbroken colt and is given three days to train it.
"It's a rollercoaster," Mr McLean said.
"I've done 10-day shows that don't wear you out like 'Road To the Horse'.
"We have three days to take a horse from untouched to do some pretty special things do things that a lot of 10-year-old horses would turn their nose up."
When Mr McLean won the event again this year, the back-to-back wins boosted his profile enormously.
He now tours the US 10 months of the year performing to sell-out crowds.
A self-taught horse trainer Mr McLean is well known in Australia for his bareback bridle-less performances with his troupe of Australian stock horses.
He calls his method "finding a better way", and is passionate about showing how much horses will do willingly, without any restraint.
"My Dad always said to us as little kids, 'I don't care what you do with the horses as long as you don't hurt them and you don't hurt yourself'. And I was able to grow a method very much my own," he said.
"No-one told me as a young boy you shouldn't ride stallions bridleless and saddleless.
"Nobody told me you couldn't put a tarp over your best mates' head, so I was able to do a lot of things now that people say are unorthodox."
An Australian in Texas
Mr McLean performs in Las Vegas to 3,000 people a night, and gets standing ovations from 10,000 plus crowds at some of the world's biggest horse events.
He wants Americans to witness an Australian performance.
"When I wear my Akubra over there and my hobble belt and my pocket knife on my hip like that, people know exactly who I am," he said.
"Not only do I sound different, I dress differently. And it's important to me.
"I see a lot of top Australian horsemen go over there and very soon they're riding American saddles they're riding American bits and American horses with American gear. And that's fine. I have no problem with that, but I didn't go over there to be American, I went over there to showcase Australia."
He has taken Australian stock horses to the US, and they are generating a lot of interest amongst the quarter horse crowd.
"Before I went over there, and before a lot of top Australian horsemen went over there, they all thought we wrestled crocodiles and rode kangaroos," he said.
"Now they know Australian horses aren't just brumbies, they're a breed of their own."
Earlier this month Mr McLean took his Australian-based horse team to the Eidsvold Bush Festival.
A far cry from the American stadiums that seat thousands, the laidback country festival reminded him of the places where he used to perform.
"I've done a lot of big things here and nobody knew about me, now when I do big things in America the world hears about me," he said.
"But I miss this country so much. This little Eidsvold here. I drafted here. Drafted here when I didn't even know what a proper stop and turn looked like.
"I didn't even know what lead I was on.
"Now I get to showcase what I do worldwide at the same place."
Getting accolades from top horse trainers is what pleases him the most.
"To impress real horsemen has always been my biggest goal. A lot of horsemen in America they really only want to impress the ones who buy their gear.
"Now I know a horseman's never going to buy my tape he's never going to buy one of my shirts but if I impress him that means he understands how much work and effort's gone into them. I get more excited than anything," he said.
Proud father wants his son to inspire kids
Mr McLean's father, Norm McLean, was at Eidsvold to watch his son perform.
He says he could not be prouder of Guy, who after two months in Australia will return to Texas, which for the time being is home.
"I'm sure he'll come home eventually," he said.
"I want Australian kids to say that if Guy McLean can do it, coming from a little boy that was too nervous to speak in front of three people - now he's an identity in the horse world - then I can do it too."
Guy's wife, Emily, a trick rider, says his performances resonate with audiences as they focus on the horses.
"For me as a trick rider and performer it's all about us as performers and the horse is there as an aid," she said.
"What he does is all about the horses. The horses are the star.
"He is there - as I guess their lackey - and he does everything for them and I think that's what makes it so unique and different and why he's so special."
Mr McLean says that is how it should be.
"I make sure as a performer that the crowd walks away feeling they know me a little more," he said.
"They know my horses names. I walk into the arena and they're not shouting out Guy McLean they're shouting out where's Teddy and where's Renee and where's Showgirl.
"I'm just the manager of this wonderful show team that I take around."
Now, check out this video about this amazing character:
Clancy's comment: Amazing, eh? Some people are born with special gifts. Many thanks to Pip Courtney and Nance Haxton.
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