The Lou Marsh Legacy - Honouring Canada's Top Athletes

W. Marshal Cleland

Equestrian

1937


Photograph of Marshal Cleland on a horse

Photograph of Marshal Cleland on a horse

Date
1937
Collection
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

A Cool Pupil, Pete the Horse, the Guvnor, and a Horse Whisperer

Marshal Cleland decided on his own at age seven that he would like a horse. That must have been brilliant news to his Irish mother, a rider of fine reputation, and his Scottish father who rode to hounds. His father William, who everyone called “guvnor,” bought Pete, a female Shetland, for a dollar a pound. That was in 1919 when Pete weighed 125 pounds.

The guvnor taught Marshal to ride on Pete, and later, Hughie Wilson, a horse whisperer from Oakville, refined Marshal’s skills. The unflappable young Cleland applied his lessons well and became a superb horseman in his own right.

Marshal rode Roxana, an Irish mare, and a favourite of the Cleland clan, to ten international titles in 1937 against some of the finest riders in the world.

Riding for the Governor General’s Horse Guard that year, Lieutenant Marshal Cleland recruited, coached and led a team into the international military teams’ event in Chicago and triumphed over the U.S. Cavalry. Marshal took the individual award, the international pairs class trophy, and the three day event.

Then on a different Canadian Army team that included his brother, Cleland swept to victory in New York capturing the military knock-down-and-out, the three day event, the international team class, and the Brooks Bright Foundation trophy for Marshal’s individual performance. With this team he also captured three more titles at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. Few horseman had ever achieved this many international distinctions in one year.

The wiry Hamilton, Ontario native attributed the impressive victories to his team which included Colonel Timmis, Captain Stuart Bate, and his younger brother Lieutenant Douglas Cleland.

At that time, Cleland’s Canadian Army team was the only team in active competition not made up entirely of permanent army officers riding on horses bought and paid for by their respective governments. The horses ridden by Cleland’s team were owned by its members. And at the end of 1937 they were the top team in the world!

The late Gordon Sinclair, a colourful writer and media personality wrote the Toronto Daily Star announcement of Marshal Cleland’s Lou Marsh award on January 5, 1938. It follows as a link below.

HEIR-APPARENT TO HOUSE OF CLELAND SCORES TRIUMPH Adobe PDF Transcript


Highlights

1925
Canadian National Exhibition Horse Show - 1st Place, Middleweight Class
1929
Canadian National Exhibition Horse Show - 2nd Place, Open Jumpers
1930
Royal Agricultural Winter Fair - 2nd Place, Middleweight Class
1931
Military Jumping Competition - 1st Place
1932
Royal Agricultural Winter Fair - 1st Place Military Class
1933
Royal Agricultural Winter Fair - 1st Place Military Class
1934
Horse Show – 1st Place, Touch-and-Out Jump Class
1937
Lou Marsh Memorial Award
1937
Chicago Horse Show - Individual Championship - Military pairs, international pairs class and international military team event
1937
New York Horse Show - International team class - military knock-down-and-out and three days event - Brooks Bright Foundation Trophy for individual honours
1937
Royal Agriculture Winter Fair – military pairs and military touch-and-out – Widgery Memorial Trophy