Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Guy McLean Injured, but All is Well

So ever since Sunday, Google Analytics has been telling me I'm a top hit for the search "Guy McLean injured."  I suspect it's because I blog about Guy McLean from time to time, and one of my more popular posts from a while ago was titled "McLain Ward injured" (he's all better now too - let's go Team Bongo!), but hey, if the Internet wants me to be The Source for All Things Guy McLean, well then let it be so.

Photo from Guy's facebook page
Part of Guy's awesome Saturday night act features Guy galloping across the arena on Spinabbey to the theme from the Man from Snowy River, cracking his Australian Stockman's whip and then herding his "three wild brumby stallions" around the arena.  It's all very reminiscent of this: 

Except of course that these are the three "wild brumby stallions": 

Positively feral.  
Photo from Guy's facebook page.
Anyway, Guy reported to his facebook fans on Saturday night that the gallop across the diagonal did not go as planned.  As he put it, "I have often felt and even been known to say that 'Spinabbey' would run through a brick wall if I asked, and tonight he proved me correct in the most stunning way possible."  It seems that Spinabbey thought they were turning right, but Guy planned to turn left, and the end result was a high speed turn a little too close to the wall, which resulted in Spinnabey hitting the sideboard and Guy getting pitched over to the other side.  

Thankfully, Spinnabey is completely fine, which is a relief but not surprising given that he's the fittest horse I've ever seen.  Guy is mostly fine, although currently sporting a sling while he heals from a separated shoulder/stretched ACL (ouch!).  

Luckily he's talented enough to ride one-handed
(Photo from Guy's facebook page)
It is often said (too often for me to even attribute this quote to someone, as it turns out) that the true measure of one's character is not in one's mistakes, but in how one responds to them.  I think we have all seen, in various levels of various disciplines, that cringe-worthy moment where someone (professional, amateur, kid, adult) comes out of the ring after a particularly bad round and blames the horse.  I almost have to avert my eyes when this happens because it's so unseemly.  There's absolutely no way that horse woke up today and thought "Today in the second class if there are pink flowers facing west, I'm going to ruin my rider's day, just because I can."  I'm not saying mistakes are always due to pilot error.  Maybe the horse wasn't on his game that day, or maybe he's overfaced, but again that's not the horse's problem.  Before I get too preachy here though....

Guy, of course, in true great horseman form, did the exact opposite. Immediately following their fall, Guy wrote that Spinnabey is his dearest mate, his hero, his one in a billion, his Super Horse.  He did not chastise his horse for "not listening," but instead marveled at how his horse was actually willing to jump the arena wall because he thought that's where Guy was heading him.  He writes to his horse: "I want you to know that I would lay my life down for you and tonight I felt the same from the boldest heart I have ever known and this evening's actions only make me love and appreciate you more than ever and I cannot wait to hold your noble head in my arms in the morning and tell you how proud I am of the man you've become."  I mean, if that doesn't tug at your heartstrings, I don't know what will.  

Such love.
(Photo from Guy's facebook page)
Ethan found me in tears on Sunday morning reading all of Guy's posts and he tried to assure me that they're both fine, and I managed to whimper over the lump in my throat, "I know but it's just so... I mean Guy loves that horse so..."   (It's probably better you all weren't there to witness that.)  How this man can be so incredibly humble when he gets routine standing ovations, and how having a fall in front of a crowded arena can only make him love and appreciate his horse that much more, is so inspiring to me.  There's no other word for it.

The other night I got to thinking about why on earth Tucker not only lets me climb up on his back and ride him around in circles, but actually listens to me when I make him work harder (he even seems to want to work harder sometimes), when we all know that if left to his own devices, he would gladly stay in his stall with a face full of hay and would not be in an indoor working on sitting down better in his extensions.  It really is a marvel when you think about it, that these spirited, proud animals not just let us do all this but somehow become our willing partners in whatever it is we ask of them.

The lesson to be learned from Guy's recent fall, I think, is (number one) to stay humble, but more than that, to appreciate what your horse is offering to you, even if it's not exactly what you asked for. It's possible he was willing to try even harder than you meant to ask of him.  I don't think any of us take our horses for granted (if you read this blog I'm basically assuming you're well-afflicted with the horse obsession at this point), but it doesn't hurt to take a step back and really appreciate all the gifts they give us.  

I am thankful that Guy is on the mend.  But more importantly, I am grateful that he's around for all that he has to teach us.

*Note:  The photos I used are mostly fan photos. Please contact me for photo credit if it's one of yours!


  1. What a sweet post. Hope Guy heals quickly and thoroughly.

  2. I LOVE Guy McLean! I saw him at the PA Horse Expo and he was truly amazing to watch. I also read the sweet letter he wrote on Facebook to Spinnabbey following the fall, and it was so heartwarming and really shows Guy's dedication to his animals and his craft. Guy McLean is definitely the kind of horseman (or woman) we should all strive to be :)

  3. Lovely tribute to an excellent horseman

  4. I read about the injury yesterday and saw the video. I completely agree with you that his response is top notch!

  5. Aww! Awesome that he loves his horse so much.

  6. that was definitely a scary fall, and it's lucky that neither horse nor rider were hurt (worse) - but i agree completely about how touching and classy Guy's response to it all has been.

  7. I fell off my horse sunday and felt so bad for my horse! I had to assure him that he is awesome and that I love him

  8. I started reading about Guy McLean because of your blog :) and read about the accident right after it happened. I was so touched by his response!

    And then last weekend I took my formerly scaredy-cat of a mare on a 25-mile endurance ride (her third endurance ride to date). This mare used to refuse ground poles, was afraid of the smallest creeks, mud, ditches and banks. She used to be prone to ulcers because she was such a nervous wreck. It's been a long, looong road with her over the past 4 years to get her to where she is now, and it has so worth it. We were in a creek so she could cool down and drink water...and I made the mistake of pointing her at the 10' bank next to the creek. She assumed that I wanted her to get us out...and proceeded to leap up that 10' vertical bank from a standstill. Without hesitation. Without any doubt. With absolute faith in what she thought I wanted her to do. And she actually succeeded: she made it onto the top of that bank! We were both fine and I was floored. I couldn't believe that she had done meant worlds to me that she would do something so inconceivable just because she thought that's what I wanted. A week later and I am still in complete and utter awe of the things a horse that loves us and trusts us will do for us.

    Re-reading what happened to Guy and Spinnabey was so timely. Like you said, it really is a marvel that these s animals not just let us ride them but somehow become our willing partners in whatever it is we ask of them. And they really will do the impossible for us if they believe in us enough.


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