Top: Sarah Growney jumps a Halflinger pony Blaze during the Festival of the Horse breed show. “Blaze is one of the most favored horses at our community stable,” announcer Kathryn Rado said, “and has helped teach many kids how to ride. Blaze is a Halflinger, which is a breed developed in Austria and northern Italy in the late 19th century. They’re relatively small, and have distinctive gaits which are energetic but smooth.” Mackinac Island is widely known for its horses, both those that labor under the weight of the drays and carriages that make everyday life on the Island possible and those that carry riders of all ages throughout the many wooded and shoreline trails. The variety of breeds among Mackinac Island horses was presented to attendants of the Festival of the Horse Breed Show Saturday, August 11, when examples of 16 breeds of horse took to the arena in Woodfill Park.
Above: Diana Dupre rides a Welsh/Morgan horse Fiona in the breed show. “The Morgan is one of the earliest horse breeds developed in the United States, used as cavalry horses during the Civil War by both sides, and were exported to England and other countries later in the 19th century,” announcer Kathryn Rado said. “Morgans are known as a compact and refined breed used for both English and Western riding disciplines and for their versatility. The Morgan is also the state animal of Vermont and the state horse of Massachusetts.” Each breed was introduced by announcer Kathryn Rado and presented by their riders in a multitude of ways, including musical performances, carriagedriving, riding, jumping, and being led around the arena.
“This whole festival lets visitors experience a little bit of the horse culture we have here on the Island,” said Ms. Rado, a summer resident. “It lets them see part of what makes this Island such a special place.”
At left: Kaitlyn Gertz leads a Carriage Tours Percheron horse into the breed show. “Percherons are draught horses like Belgians,” announcer Kathryn Rado said. “They come originally from northern France, where they were bred as warhorses, and have since been adapted for pulling carriages and equipment. They were first exported from France to the United States in the late-19th century. They are very well-muscled, and are known for their intelligence and willingness to work.”
At left: Reed and Jerry Crawford escort their sister, Maddie, riding the Miniature horse Ricky, in the breed show. “Ricky loves people and does the speed shows here on the Island Sunday nights,” announcer Kathryn Rado said. “Miniature horses are found in many nations in Europe and the Americas. They are between 34 and 36 inches, measured from the ground up to the last hair on the mane. Miniatures are often kept as family pets and companion animals because they are very friendly and interact well with people.”
Tim (right) and Marty Shay drive a carriage pulled by their Welsh Cob Duncan, a national driving champion horse. “Welsh Cobs are hearty and sure-footed,” announcer Kathryn Rado said. “Their movement is characteristically fast, especially at the trot, which has been compared favorably to that of the Standardbred.”
Shannon Schuler leads her Norwegian Fjord horse Emma through Woodfill Park arena during the breed show. “The Norwegian Fjord horse is relatively small but very strong,” said announcer Kathryn Rado. “It’s from the mountainous regions of west Norway, and is an agile breed of light draught horse and one of the world’s oldest breeds. It has been used for hundreds of years as a farm horse in Norway, and in more recent times has become popular for its general good temperament and use as both a harness horse as well as under saddle.”