This past weekend I was lucky enough to become fully immersed in an event that was not art-centric at all. Or was it? A friend of mine scored some high-end tickets to one of the hottest horse shows in all of horsedom: “The Road to the Horse”.

Young Quarter Horses

Remuda (collection of horses)

Remuda (collection of horses)

Briefly, what happens is, four upper tier horse trainers are invited to meet in an arena and spend several sessions with a young, completely unhandled colt in full view of a paying public — complete with loud playby and Jumbotrons — and do what they can to get this horse trained. In a total of four sessions from 1 to 2 hours each (for a total of about 5 hours total) these savvy horsemen and horsewomen convince their equine charges that life can be fine as a riding horse, and, in fact, this is what they were born to be! NOTE: training a young horse more typically takes several weeks to get them ‘started’ and some years beyond that for a fine ‘finish’.

Who IS This Guy?

I had been expecting to see competence, skills, patience, technique; but I wasn’t prepared for the tears that flowed as I witnessed the transformation of one colt into a trusting tractable Partner in such an astoundingly short amount of time under some of THE most trying of circumstances for these creatures of flight. His likable steward was Guy McLean, an Aussie equine showman who loves to joke and doesn’t shy away from the limelight.

Noodle-a-Thon

The three days culminates with the trainers riding these half-broke colts through a series of obstacles in front of a sometimes rowdy and enthusiastic full house in this 5000 seat indoor arena. Guys’s colt not only made it through the neck-grabbing noodle chute, the freaktastic mylar hanging banners of menace and death and across the tarp of instant death (all horses’ terms, not mine) but he tromped up onto a pedestal and let Guy stand on his back cracking whips and do a shoulder stand on his neck – did I say it was a full house, the crowd was noisy and this green, young horse had only a total of 6 hours handling? Here’s the kicker and where my tears started flowing.

Amazing Grace

Drawing #459 - Guy McLean - horseman extraordinaire

Drawing #459 – Guy McLean – horseman extraordinaire

Guy sits back down and recites a poem he’s written that honors this horse; honors all horses. He calls himself a bush-poet – he’s Australian, they’re funny yhat way. Then he leans forward and gently removes the bridle drops it to the ground and eases this almost unnaturally trusting partner into a nice lope around the full parameter of the arena with just his seat – an amazing feat for any horseman anywhere under any circumstance with any seasoned horse including all those with years of training!

The End Word?

He dismounted, removed the saddle and with a choke in his own voice and through the glaze of his own tears told us all he hadn’t planned to be able to do that, and he was honoring his new friend and giving him full credit for completing this inspirational circle of trust. Which is why I’m writing about this on this blog; my art blog. Because inspiration can come from anywhere at any time, and most especially through patience, skill, compassion, perseverance and trust. And when it comes, the very best among us don’t claim it, but share it willingly, freely and with all their heart.

Guy McLean - rides his 4 at this weekend's Road to the Horse in Lexington, Kentucky

Guy McLean – rides his 4 at this weekend’s Road to the Horse in Lexington, Kentucky

Where’s my picture of Guy’s amazing ride? I don’t have one. I was too busy being amazed and wiping away tears to even think about that.