It was the shout heard around the world as Guy McLean, covering his face with his hands, threw his arms in the air and grabbed teammate Dan James after hearing Team Australia announced as winners of Road to the Horse International March 11, in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Team Australia was crowned the winner with a total score, including the bonus points, of 2,780, with Team USA in second with a score of 2,687 followed by Team Canada with a score of 2,471.
James of North Arm Cove, New South Wales and McLean of Hervey Bay, Queensland, went into the final round of competition, the challenging obstacle course, in a close race with Team USA, made up of veteran clinicians Craig Cameron of Bluff Dale, Texas, and Pat Parelli of Pagosa Springs, Colo. Team Canada, consisting of British Columbia horsemen Glenn Stewart of Baldonnel and Jonathan Field of Abbotsford, were no slackers, either, having taken on two challenging horses to make it to the obstacle course.
Producer Tootie Bland threw the first twist into the event before the competition even started, offering a total of 40 points to the team willing to switch horses selected from the remuda of well-bred American Quarter Horse geldings provided by the Four Sixes Ranch of Guthrie, Texas. After a brief conference, the only team to take the bait was Team Canada.
Even so, Team USA took the first round of competition from inside the W-W Livestock round pens with a combined score of 691 from head judge Mike Kevil of Arizona and judges Jack Brainard of Texas, Dr. Robert Miller of California, Cody Lambert of Texas, Hugh McLennan of British Columbia and Australian Wayne Robinson of Texas.
Team Canada had strong performances as well, with Jonathan Field completing the course in solid fashion on Fletches Stoli and Glenn Stewart making a nail-biter of a performance, spending a great deal of time in the round pen saddling and working Sixes Peg prior to starting the obstacle course and bringing the house down with his own exuberant finish.
In addition to a $10,000 cash prize awarded to the charity of their choice, Team Australia took home Martin Saddles with custom Gist conchos memorializing Road to the Horse co-founderSteven “Dooky” Bland, custom headstalls from Daryl Davis and Flying D Enterprises, custom saddle pads from CSI Saddle Pads, hats from J.W. Brooks and custom braided romal reins from elite US braider Kyanna Fejes.
Unlike a horse show, these competitors are judged not only on a final test of skill, but the means to the end result. The goal of Road to the Horse is to teach horsemen and women that natural horsemanship is a kinder, gentler way of working with horses.
Road to the Horse is a one-of-a-kind experience that combines education and entertainment for an all-out horsemanship experience.
Road to the Horse will head to Kentucky March 15-17 in Lexington, Ky. Information about the event and ticket sales will be available in May. Go to www.roadtothehorse.com for more information or call 325.736.5000.