2006-07-29 / Columnists


Horsemen's Barn Tours To Be Held at Mission Hill July 30
by Candice C. Dunnigan

July 2006 on Mackinac Island is rapidly coming to a close. Before it's over, come and celebrate with the Mackinac Horsemen's Association Sunday, July 30. There will be lemonade and barn tours in the afternoon, and for a nominal donation, you can tour the Chambers Mission Hill Barn, meet some of this year's summer riding students, see the variety of the programs for equines, hear a horse tale or two, and have a cool drink, all in one.

From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., should one be so inclined, you can sign up and become a member of the Mackinac Horsemen's Association, and then enjoy the annual "Hoofbeats and Hors d'oeuvres Cocktail Party.'' Granted, the annual MHA membership fee costs more than the glass of lemonade. Yet, there usually are lots of friendly people and kids around and, after all, you don't need "cocktail attire," because it's an "around the barn party." Events like the aforementioned

are nice ones for this Island and its sense of community. It is the community and its citizens who really have helped this equine endeavor. A horsemen's association would never be able to happen here if it were not for a broad range of people who are interested. In turn, that support allows the MHA to offer free programs for horse-enthused kids and adults.

Moira Martinchek, Rondi Wuerful, Lin Sheppard, and Michelle Stuck (from left) at a horse clinic Monday, July 24. Moira Martinchek, Rondi Wuerful, Lin Sheppard, and Michelle Stuck (from left) at a horse clinic Monday, July 24. Two great examples of this occurred this July, a week apart, both made possible by membership support.

Wednesday, July 19, and Thursday, July 20, Karin Bielefeld was at Great Turtle Park, giving both a lecture and demonstration about saddles and the proper fit for both horse and rider. Ms. Bielefeld, from the Kalamazoo area, has a background in dressage and horse handling. She had keen observations on equine mystique.

She worked with any child or adult who wanted to be helped.

Ms. Bielefeld has also developed a neoprene-like saddle pad called an "Ugly Pad" that was a hit with some of the riders who participated. Look for a few Ugly Pads on a horse or two at the Horse Show in August.

Monday, July 24, and Tuesday, July 25, there was a clinic on Fitting and Showmanship for showing in both Western and English classes, and one devoted to barrel racing. These were given by a team of two women who understand their stuff. In the horse world, we would know them as "card-carrying judges." In July, we knew them just as Moira and Rondi.

The best thing was that these ladies could not only give the "heat" to rider or horse, they, in turn, were able to take the heat. The sun and skies at Great Turtle Park were intense those days; it was hot! They seemed unaffected and gave their all.

Moira Martinchek and Rondi Sue Wuerfel worked well as a teaching team on Mackinac Island. Both started as horse-crazy girls and worked their way up in the show ranks, starting on borrowed or imperfect horses. Western Pleasure and Barrel Racing were Ms. Martinchek's first love, but she showed everything. Ms. Wuerfel favored Arabs and Saddle seat, as well as general showmanship classes. She, too, had done it all, or most of it, on a competitive level.

It's a great thing when a clinician has the ability to take a horse that they've never seen and do something quite easily with it, that the owner has never done, or can never seem to do correctly. It gets even better when the owner then tries it, fails, and finally gets it right under their eye. Being taught by people who make their livelihood by watching other people and their horses in a ring makes things a bit more microscopic.

Besides both judges having good sense, they have great humor. Joking aside, Ms. Wuerfel, however, takes judging seriously. She was inducted into the equine division of the Professional Athletes Hall of Fame in San Antonio, Texas, in 2000. She is qualified to judge 33 breeds and 63 kinds of classes. Ms. Martinchek has officiated internationally in many countries, including Canada, Norway, Spain, Mexico, England, and Jamaica. In the United States, she has judged in Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Arizona, and Michigan, among other states.

Both Ms. Wuerfel and Ms. Martinchek are kept busy in the

summer. Ms. Martinchek works out of the Charlevoix area and Ms. Wuerfel is based in Traverse City.

Ms. Martinchek's children also helped out their mother when it came to "Show Season." Each also rode, making that balance of show and family all that much harder to finagle. Ms. Martinchek works as a 4-H judge, as well as working at state and county fairs, like Ms. Wuerfel.

We were fortunate to be able to hold both clinics, making July fly by even faster. In August, the equine "pace" picks up to a full canter as the Hunter Pace, Fun and Games Show, and the Annual Mackinac Island Horse Show are held. So, giddy-up!

Candice Dunnigan is an active member of the American Equestrian Association, the Waterloo Hunt, and the Mackinac Island Horsemen's Association. Seasonally she resides at Easterly Cottage.

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