2017-05-20 / News

Horse Crazy 4-H Program Brings Their Horses to Island

By Sasha Zidar


Kylie Williams with her horse, Tuff. Kylie Williams with her horse, Tuff. Young 4-H riders from the Upper Peninsula community of Rapid River brought their own horses to Mackinac Island and spent an entire day exploring trails usually restricted to Island horses Saturday, May 13, a visit their club leader predicted will be among their best experiences of the year.

Twenty-four riders and horses from the Horse Crazy 4-H program boarded a chartered freightcarrying ferry from St. Ignace to the Island, together with seven non-riders. Once they arrived, the 4-H members were split into three riding groups, based on skill level, before taking on the trails.

The visit by so many horses from outside the Island was unusual because there was no public place to board them before a barn was built for the Mackinac Horsemen’s Association. The Horse Crazy 4-H program visit was the first of this nature, said Abby Martin, new barn manager of the Mackinac Community Equestrian Center, who made the arrangements with help from board members and friends.


Visiting 4-H Leader Betsy Harris and her daughter, Brooke, with horses Aries and Windy on Mackinac Island. Visiting 4-H Leader Betsy Harris and her daughter, Brooke, with horses Aries and Windy on Mackinac Island. “The horses unloaded and loaded onto the ferry great,” said Cindy Anderson, a leader of the Horse Crazy 4-H program. “We spent about 8-1/2 hours riding throughout the Island … this was the highlight of the kids’ summer.”

Incoming guests or residents have been able to bring their own horses in the past, but 24 horses at once previously was unheard of, Ms. Martin said.

“I’m really looking forward to sort of spreading a deeper understanding of the Island and how it works, and what kind of things you can do here,” Ms. Martin said. “I’ve never heard of a group chartering their own boat … it’s a new kind of tourism for the Island.”


Twenty-four riders and horses from the Horse Crazy 4-H program explored trails on the Island Saturday, May 13. Twenty-four riders and horses from the Horse Crazy 4-H program explored trails on the Island Saturday, May 13. Ms. Martin and other board members held a question-and-answer session after 4-H members had lunch. Some of their questions were about life on the Island and what it is like to work for the Mackinac Horseman’s Association.

“I will fill them in on what goes on here, some of the logistics, (and) obviously, they’ll be experiencing some of that today,” Ms. Martin promised before the young equestrians took to the trails.

The 4-H members enjoyed a day with friends and family members who accompanied them on the trip. Not only was it the visit to the Island for the horses, it also was a first visit there for some of the younger riders.

“It’s a wonderful treat to be able to bring your own horse to Mackinac Island,” said Mary Dekey-Skok, a 4-H member and the mother of Katelyn and Kyle, who were on the ride. “The kids are super excited about it.”

The horses were brought to Island stables, where 4-H members could care for them and spend time after their first ride and before they hit the trails one last time.

The riders planned another trail ride and then to roam around the Island a little bit more before heading back to the docks around 8 p.m.

“It will be a long, full day,” Ms. Martin said.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2017-05-20 digital edition