2009-06-20 / Top News

Island Horses and Dogs Turn Out for Blessing of the Animals

"With horses, dogs, cats, and other kinds of domestic pets, people over the ages have really felt a sort of joyful obligation to include them in the many blessings that we all receive." - The Reverend Vincent Carroll
By Jane Alexander

The Reverend Vincent Carroll blesses Annie Brock's horse. He thanked the animals for being a gift to man from God and said they are appreciated as beautiful creatures. The Reverend Vincent Carroll blesses Annie Brock's horse. He thanked the animals for being a gift to man from God and said they are appreciated as beautiful creatures. Approximately 50 people attended the Mackinac Horsemen's Association's fifth annual Feast of Epona Blessing of the Animals at Mission Stable Friday, June 12. The Reverend Vincent Carroll of Little Stone Church blessed horses and dogs at the event, and Mackinac Horseman's Association Vice President Trish Martin spoke of the importance of horses throughout history, and specifically to Mackinac Island.

"Unlike other islands or communities whose way of life has gradually changed by the rush of automobiles, Mackinac chose the slower and, perhaps, more peaceful existence," she said at the blessing. "I, for one, will always be grateful that our forbearers made the decision in favor of horses over cars. It is good that there is still a place where people can hear the clip clop of hooves and see the power of teams of horses pulling, and smell the reality of horses. Many people's lives are lived in such different types of places that the reality of animals and, indeed, of all of nature seems to become rather foreign."

Meghan Finigan (left) and Madeline Martino wait for Bear to receive his first blessing. Meghan Finigan (left) and Madeline Martino wait for Bear to receive his first blessing. The Horseman's Association's youth 4-H Club was also present. The club sold lemonade and provided tours of the stables. Lisa Brock of the association spoke of the significance of the 4-H club to the Island and of director Leanne Brodeur's efforts with the club.

"One of the most important and enjoyable things to me is watching kids interact with any kind of animal, and watching them interact with horses on the Island is a delight," she said. "Interaction doesn't come without knowledge and information, and without the opportunity to really learn the right way to be with horses and the safe way to be with horses. Leanne has provided an incredible opportunity for the 4-H kids on Mackinac Island to do both of those things. It also gives those kids a great sense of responsibility, because there's a lot of work involved in keeping horses. Along with the education, the safety, and the responsibility, I think they have a lot of fun. I can tell you it gives me a great deal of pleasure to see kids headed up the hill and off on the trail and knowing that they're doing that in a safe manner."

4-H Club member Katy Penney shows off her new puppy, Daisy, who is receiving her first blessing. 4-H Club member Katy Penney shows off her new puppy, Daisy, who is receiving her first blessing. Animal blessings are a timehonored custom, according to Rev. Carroll.

"Animal blessing is a long tradition within the church, both Catholic and Protestant," he said. "It demonstrates an appreciation for our fellow creatures on the earth, who are, theoretically, the creatures of burden, and they perform and toil along with mankind to do the work of the world, to preserve life the way it is, to sustain life. With horses, dogs, cats, and other kinds of domestic pets, people over the ages have really felt a sort of joyful obligation to include them in the many blessings that we all receive."

Rev. Carroll grew up around horses on his family farm in Iowa. His mother, Lorraine Carroll, was also surrounded by horses, as her father broke in horses for the U.S. Army in the 1920s and 1930s.

Annie Brock of the Clinton County 4-H Club shows children her horse before the start of the Mackinac Horsemen's Association Feast of Epona Blessing of the Animals. Pictured (from left) are Hannah Ballard, Grace Ballard, and Katie Moeder. The Moeders are visiting from East Lansing and the Ballards are visiting from Indianapolis. Annie Brock of the Clinton County 4-H Club shows children her horse before the start of the Mackinac Horsemen's Association Feast of Epona Blessing of the Animals. Pictured (from left) are Hannah Ballard, Grace Ballard, and Katie Moeder. The Moeders are visiting from East Lansing and the Ballards are visiting from Indianapolis. Ms. Martin and 4-H member Katy Penney read poems at the event. Miss Penney also brought her new puppy, Daisy, to be blessed for the first time.

"She'll be blessed every year," said Miss Penney's moth- er, Kitten. "She has a very good start in life. She's a very lucky puppy, because her mother was a stray. Somebody dropped the mother off and, about two days later, Daisy and her four brothers were born. Hopefully, someday she's going to chase rabbits."

The Penneys are visiting Kitty Hannabass, Mrs. Penney's mother, who lives on the East Bluff.

Many others attended to to have their dogs blessed, including Carol Emerson of Indiana. Her golden retriever, Bear, received his first blessing this year. Mrs. Emerson comes to the blessing every year.

At left: Mackinac Horsemen's Association Vice President Trish Martin discusses the significance of horses throughout history and their importance to the Island. At left: Mackinac Horsemen's Association Vice President Trish Martin discusses the significance of horses throughout history and their importance to the Island. The blessing of the animals is a chance for Island residents and visitors to appreciate Island animals, Rev. Carroll said.

"This is one of my favorite things to participate in on the Island," he said. "To bring God's blessing to all of His animals and particularly our horses this year. I think people will find it an exceptional opportunity to experience appreciation for our animals, for our horses."

Quincy (from left), Shiba, Deacon, Encore, and Joshua wait to be blessed. These dogs are from the Therapy Dogs group of Rochester. While visiting Mackinac Island, the group also participated in the Epona and Barkus Parade and attended the Dog and Pony Show. Quincy (from left), Shiba, Deacon, Encore, and Joshua wait to be blessed. These dogs are from the Therapy Dogs group of Rochester. While visiting Mackinac Island, the group also participated in the Epona and Barkus Parade and attended the Dog and Pony Show.

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