Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘horses’

IMG_2070

Last Friday Tom and I, along with son-in-law Carl and granddaughter Amy, attended the Show Jumping Event of  the Richland Park Horse Trials. It was a thrilling experience for each of us. I was aware these Horse Trials had been held here near Kalamazoo, but had not taken the opportunity to attend until now.

IMG_2016

We were unfamiliar with the lay of the land, so shortly after being directed into our parking space, paying the attendant and receiving a program, we walked toward the area that had people milling around. We were greeted by a friendly volunteer, who seeing us carrying our chairs, asked if we wanted a lift to where we were going. We said, “Sure, only we’re not sure where we’re going.”

That’s all she needed for a cue, as she took us around the grounds, showing us where the cross country competitions would be held the next day and giving Amy a thrilling front seat ride. She held onto her hat, then removed it and chattered all the way around the course, sharing her excitement with the driver.

IMG_2022

IMG_2021

As her hair blew in the breeze, Amy cautioned the driver to “watch out for that puddle” and “don’t hit those people on the track.”  The driver drove us as close as she could get to the viewing arena and pointed out the best spot to put our chairs down in front of the competitive jumping field.

It was a bright, hot, sunny day, and there was a tented grandstand open to viewers. We got to put our chairs in the front row, getting a shaded view of what was about to take place. This was a double blessing for Tom, and his skin sun sensitive skin.  We headed off for a sandwich before the main event began.

IMG_2029

Richland Park and the development of the Richland Park Horse Trials is the realization of a dream that originated over twenty-eight years ago. The dream belonged to Bob and Kay Willmarth, local business owners. They purchased their twenty acre farm in 1985 with land contract rights for the additional sixty acres.  After acquiring that, they began think about hosting a horse trial, but realized they needed more land. In 1993, a 240 acre farm that surrounded them became available and they put it all together.  Both Bob and Kay are avid horse lovers who competed in the sport of Eventing and Fox Hunting for many years.

IMG_2025

Now, we were ready to see what this was all about. The Horse Trial is made up of three tests of skill, taking place on one, two or three days. A competitor rides the same horse throughout the entire competition. In simple language, eventing is a triathlon for horse and rider teams.

Dressage is about the development of the physique and ability of the horse. At every level, horse and rider should exhibit an understanding partnership in which the rider’s cues to the horse are invisible to the spectator.

Cross Country is a test of speed, endurance, and jumping ability. It consists of a course with fixed obstacles carried out at the gallop.

IMG_2030

Show Jumping is the third event of the trio of disciplines. That is what we were there to see. This phase  is designed to show the suppleness, obedience, and jumping ability of the horse. It also demonstrates the rider’s knowledge of pace, and the use of her horse within an enclosed arena. The goal of show jumping is to perform a clear round within the allotted time, with no obstacles faults.  Many did, some did not. We heard the scoring at the conclusion of each of the approximately sixty competitors.

IMG_2042

IMG_2044

IMG_2076

Amy watched, intrigued. We picked our favorites and cheered for all the clear jumps. Amy particularly liked the butterfly jump and the rainbow jump.

IMG_2080

IMG_2071

We watched the whole event, on this crystal clear blue sky day with a gentle breeze, alleviating the heat just enough to remain comfortable. Then, it seemed, it was just time to go back home, stopping for an ice cream sunday on the way.

IMG_2023

IMG_2079

Read Full Post »

Photo by Brenda Horton – Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog

http://bree1972.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/last-sail-of-the-season-1072012/

 

Bree is getting ready for hers and Ted’s and (Bear’s and Maddie’s ) trek back to their Georgia home down on the”rivah”. But she gives us some beautiful glimpses of how the Island, too, prepares for its winter season.

This is too beautiful not to share. Horses, lake waters, foggy mists, and businesses that ran full steam ahead in the summer, and witnessed many grand vacation times, now begin to settle into a different rhythm.

It keeps you forever in love with Mackinac Island.

While I have followed Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog for at least four years now, I see myself in the near future walking into the Island Book Store, obtaining a copy of a book written and photographed by Bree, and then scouting out her condo, so I can get an autographed copy.

It will have a distinguished place on my bookshelf.

Thanks, Bree, for this wonderful conversation.

Last Sail of the Season 10/7/2012

Brrrr . . . .

With highs in the 40′s and wind chills in the 30′s this weekend, we’re wondering if this could be a little teaser about what kind of winter the Islanders can expect!  I’m sure hoping  for them (cause they love lots of snow and deep ice on the Straits) that they have a true Mackinac winter this year.  Also – and selfishly – I’m hoping for that because I want to come back to the Island this winter for a few days, but only if there’s  lots of snow!  I’m talking piles and piles of the white stuff!

With all the blustery winds in the last few days, our beautiful trees are beginning to shed a few  leaves, but there is a lot of color left for visitors to ahhhhhhhh over – so come on!   Make sure you check those ferry schedules before heading out though – there have been changes in the last few days!

So much to talk about today – so I’ll just start writing and see how far we get in this post . . .

The big story from last week is Ted’s awesome sailing adventure on Thursday.  Steve and Orietta are year-round Island residents, and Steve asked Ted to sail with him to Cedarville (in the U.P.) to put his boat in storage for the winter.  He keeps the boat moored during the summer in Haldimand Bay, just beyond the Mackinac Island Marina.  Now Ted doesn’t know a lot about sailing, but Steve needed an extra pair of hands on board, and Orietta needed to get their car to Cedarville so Steve would have a ride home.  Consequently, Ted got a great day on Lake Huron, and Orietta and I drove, shopped a little, met the guys in Hessel for lunch, drove on to Cedarville and overall just had a fun day!

But, before we get to the sailing . . .

I was meeting Orietta at the ferry at 11 a.m., and the fog, really dense earlier in the morning, was beginning to burn off. I passed the entrance to the Grand Hotel shade garden just as this worker finished pulling up the perennials along the steps.

Fort Mackinac was still cloaked in the foggy mist . . .

. . . and from Market Street the fort looked even more ghostly.

Jill was up a lot earlier than I was that morning and had already been out and about – as had Mary McGuire, head of the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau.

The docks and marina were socked in with heavy fog . . . (Photo: Jill)

. . . and the Chippewa Hotel was barely visible from the Marina. (Photo: Mary)

It would be a little later in the morning before these private carriages began to fill with passengers. (Photo: Mary)

Jill, who was spending part of her day off dog-sitting for us, told me on Wednesday that another load of horses would be leaving the Island on Thursday at 11:00.  As I was going down the hill, I met her coming up to get some shots of the horses on Cadotte.

Here they come!  Each worker is in charge of leading groups od two, three, or four horses down from the big barns to the ferry.  The horses are excited!  I think they know when their horseshoes are taken off, and no new ones are put on, that they are leaving the Island soon for the rolling pastures of a farm in the U.P. (Photo: Jill)

As many times now as I’ve witnessed this ritual, it never fails to make my heart beat a little faster. There’s just something about 20 one-and-a-half to two-ton horses moseying down Market Street that makes me grin like a little kid.  It affects everyone the same way – walkers and bikers stop and dive into backpacks and purses for cameras, or just stand and gape.  Only on Mackinac!  (Photo: Jill)

The horses were leaving from the Arnold dock, and Orietta and I scurried to take photos of our own! (Photo: Jill)

It’s always a bittersweet moment when the men and women who take care of the horses all summer say goodbye to them for the winter.

One of the first things I learned after being here for a while is that this is more than a “job” for these workers. They all LOVE horses . . .

. . . and they take care of each and every horse as if it was their own personal companion.

The horses take it all in stride – most of them have done this for at least several years. (Photo: Jill)

They watch the people, watch as other horses arrive, and . . . . make plans.

“You know that second fence post by the road in the pasture in the U.P.? Once we’re out of the trailer, meet me there, and we’ll plan the party for this weekend. Spread the word!”

Ok – back to the sailing!  Orietta and I went over to St. Ignace on the 11:00 Arnold boat, but Ted and Steve’s morning began at 9 a.m.

Jill was at the dock to watch them pull away from the mooring.

Ted had his camera with him and captured the Island slowly receding in the background, as Steve piloted the boat out of Haldimand Bay.

The fog was still thick at nine, and this Star Line ferry, passing the Round Island Light, blended in with all the gray.

The sky didn’t look too promising for a good day on the water. There was not even a whisper of wind, and the 16-mile trip would be made using the sailboat’s diesel engine.

While they were motoring to Hessel, the first leg of the trip and where we would meet them for lunch, Orietta and I crossed to St. Ignace.

From the ferry window I captured this really eerie photo of the Mackinac Bridge. Only the top of one tower was visible above the fog.

We walked past these Burning Bushes along the boardwalk in St. Ignace to pick up Orietta and Steve’s car. So beautiful!

As we left St. Ignace, we called the guys and discovered they were just pulling into the Hessel Marina – ahead of schedule!  It took them about an hour-and-a-half to go by water, and it would take us only 20 minutes by road.

We met them at a great little restaurant in Hessel, enjoyed a very good lunch, then walked over to another little store for a Jersey Mud – Ted’s favorite dessert!

Orietta and I walked down to the boat to watch them ready the boat for the final hop to Cedarville – only a few miles.  By then the sun was shining, and the weather was perfect!

As I photographed them motoring away from Hessel . . . .

. . . Ted photographed Orietta and I waving goodbye to our “sailor boys”.

It only took about 10 minutes to make the trip by road from Hessel to the boat yard where the boat is stored for the winter. We walked out on their dock and just enjoyed the beautiful weather and the wonderful fall scenery.

What a wonderful old boathouse! I bet it has some great stories to tell . . . if it could only talk.

Nice spot for a home!

While we were enjoying the scenery, Ted was steering the boat (and taking photos), Steve was removing the sails . . .

. . . and they were soon coming into the Cedarville harbor.

We watched as they carefully tried to maneuver through the grass in the very shallow bay. The water levels in all the Great Lakes are at very low levels.

Steve piloted the boat the last few yards . . .

. . . into the spot where eventually it would be lifted out of the water.

The final task was to get the sails on dry land . . .

. . . then fold them and place them in bags. Steve will take them to a place over the winter where they’ll be checked for nicks or tiny holes and, if necessary, be repaired.

We arrived back in St. Ignace in time for the last boat of the day at 4:30.

What a great day we had with Steve and Orietta.  Thanks so much for including us, and have a wonderful winter on the Island!

 

Read Full Post »