March 17, 2013
This trainer’s belief in his colt pays big dividends, with a win at the Road to the Horse colt-starting championship.
By Holly Clanahan
Guy McLean was almost apologetic when he stepped into the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park for the final performance in the 2013 Road to the Horse colt-starting competition. His bay gelding, Streakin Cat, had been shutting down throughout the weekend, without much forward energy, and Guy was pretty sure he wouldn’t have enough horse to get through the required rail work and obstacle course. But, as he saddled his colt, he said both he and the gelding were giving it all they had, and he appreciated the horse’s honest efforts.
And then something happened: The little gelding nicknamed “Mate” stepped up and turned in a stellar performance, sailing through the rail work and all of the obstacles – including a bonus one – and then allowing Guy to ride him bridleless for a closing freestyle performance. Guy had said all along that he believed in this horse, and now it seemed, the horse was believing in him. They went into the final performance with a 63-point deficit, and they ended it 44 points ahead of their nearest competitor.
Guy won Road to the Horse last year as part of Team Australia with Dan James, and now he had won it outright, he and his mate.
“I loved him for what he was when he came in, and I love him for what he is now,” Guy says. “I believed in him the whole way through, but he even surprised me on this third day. He was a superstar.”
Guy announced immediately that he was purchasing the 3-year-old gelding, bred by the esteemed Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. And he looks forward to having him perform alongside Valliant Paddy, aka “Aussie,” the gelding he purchased after winning the 2012 Road to the Horse.
“When he works at liberty beside me, when you see him in a year, he’ll be running beside Aussie, two world champions together, Guy McLean and his world champions,” he says. And indeed, Aussie has turned into a remarkable performer in the last year (See the slideshow in Friday’s post for proof), and it’ll
be interesting to see this new team gel.
Many of Guy’s training methods are pretty unorthodox, as you’ll see illustrated in the slideshow photos below, but he says it’s important to put colts to the test, to give them a reason to believe in their trainer.
“The big thing for me is that people understand why I do what I do,” he says. “The first two days, people were saying, ‘Guy you’d better slow down, you’d better do this,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, but that’s not being true to who I am.’ If I went slow for two days, this colt would have come out today, and he would have said, ‘You didn’t teach me this, you didn’t prepare me.’ (Instead), my colt said,’ Is this all we have to do? We can do this every day.’ He believed in me because I prepared him. If I had to take someone to war, I can’t sit him down at a tea table and give him cups of tea. I’ve got to take him and say, ‘We’ve got to go to war, I need you to be ready.’ He was ready today. We went to war together and we won.”
See the slideshow for a more in-depth report on Sunday’s happenings at Road to the Horse, including photos of the other very talented competitors, Obbie Schlom, Sarah Winters and Dan James. Click on the photos to read the captions.
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