Many years ago, I learned that one of our most prolific volunteers (and a current board member) had competed in the Olympics. Over the years I have chatted with Larry McGuiness many times about his experience as an Olympian in 1952, for the Canadian Equestrian team. In honor of the 2012 Olympic Games, Larry agreed to pen one of his never-heard-before stories for Insight's new website. -MC
The Tail of a Horse, by Larry McGuiness
At last, departure day had arrived for the team. The equipment was packed, the haynets were filled, and the horses lightly tranquilized. The horse van arrived, and we were off to the airport. Upon arrival, we were ushered aboard the plane quickly, and soon on our way to England for a month's training. Our next flight would be to Helsinki, for the 1952 Olympic Games.
During that flight, the captain came on and said that we were going to land at Goose Bay in Labrador, to refuel due to some strong headwinds. So we landed, refueled, and continued our journey. It did not take long for the plane to react to the wind. The horses all began to stir, and my horse, Tara, was the worst of all.
Acutely aware of how the flight would end if the spooked horses continued to upset the stability of the plane, our panicked captain came back to say he would put down ALL of the horses if he had to. Each horse was in its own "box", so I quickly crawled up, over and around to reach him. Remembering an old trick I had learned, I got on his back facing backwards, and firmly grabbed his tail and pulled it up. This effectively blocked his hind legs from kicking.
After several hours, we outran the storm and everyone finally was able to relax. Only then did I release Tara's tail! At the Olympics, Tara performed very well, with minimal time penalties and NO jumping faults.
PS While Larry has undoubtedly spent thousands of hours in a horse's saddle, I can attest that he is quickly approaching 5,000 hours in the saddle here at Insight - a remarkable accomplishment for which all of us at Insight are grateful. -mc