Guy McLean returns to EQUITANA Melbourne in 2021
Guy and Emily McLean will be the first to admit they’ve both got a whole lot of love for EQUITANA Melbourne. So for the world renowned horseman and entertainer to be headlining at the iconic Australian event in November this year is something quite extraordinary and dear to their hearts.
He’s an acclaimed horseman, equine entertainer and bush poet . . . but most importantly, an Australian who loves to share what he does with the rest of the world.
It was Guy’s Auntie Joan who first managed to get him onto a stage at the inaugural EQUITANA in 1999. She heard the late Gillian Rolton speak about the event and said she had a nephew who simply had to be a part of it. He was a poet and a horseman, and while she managed to get a number, they said they were full. True to his tenacity, Guy wrangled a slot. “They told me I had 45 seconds but I said my shortest poem was six minutes,” he says. Guy ended up with four minutes and it marked the first step in a journey that continues to take him across the Pacific and into the hearts of tens of thousands of American horse lovers.
Guy won EQUITANA’s The Way of The Horse (2005), can claim to two very prestigious Road to the Horse crowns (2012 and 2013) in the United States, and reigns supreme as the first official Australian Stock Horse Ambassador, a position he still holds.
They’ve toured Australia extensively but since 2010 have wooed the American crowds. COVID-19 hustled them home to Australia sooner than they had planned, but these two are proudly patriotic. They may spend much of their time offshore, but their heart is certainly Down Under and they love to show the talent and that of their Australian stock horses.
His excitement at coming back to EQUITANA is palpable. It’s where he has performed six times before, and the last was 12 years ago. “That’s 12 years too long,” he says. “Every year it is on and I am away, it breaks my heart. I can’t wait to come back. There is a feeling about EQUITANA like no other.”
Guy credits a two-hour show at EQUITANA as the light bulb moment that changed his world. “It was a life-changer for me . . . it gave me a chance to climb out of the little bowl I was in and flourish.”
To Guy, the word horsemanship rolls around his mouth like a delicacy. “It is a wonderful word and I love most, the way it is put together” he says. “The horse is before the man and that is how it should be.”
His foundations are actually at the heart of humanity – respect, love, kindness, honesty and simply to treat a horse as you would like to be treated.
Those relationships inspire him to write poetry, to share the absolute love he has with the horse with all who will listen. “I see horses as perfect, but I also give them the tools they need to be perfect for us . . . there is a difference, and it is a line in the sand. Much like with kids – and it is something I do with pure love in my heart.” His horses are second only to his wife and family.
“If there is one thing that stands out as a highlight for me is that I have actually lived my life’s dream. Never once have I thought I would do something else – I work horses for fun, for work and in my holidays. I don’t know who Guy McLean would be without horses . . . I feel so very blessed.”
COVID has caused him to catch his breath more than a couple of times. “If I think about it all too much, a gentle heart like mine starts to panic . . . how will I feed the horses here and in the US?” But as luck would have it, he and Emily tentatively put out that they were available to start horses. “Now my days are busy and filled working with young horses. When I with them, it is my deepest conversation.” Emily could call out, but he simply wouldn’t hear her. “It is almost trance like, but so important to stay in that moment. What I love about horses so dearly is that even on my worst day, they look for the good. Humans don’t always do that.”