2017-08-12 / Top News

Mary Milton Horse Show Brings Community Riders Together

By Sasha Zidar


The judge and helpers watch a young horse show contestant guide her mount through the paces. The judge and helpers watch a young horse show contestant guide her mount through the paces. Trotting horses could be heard in Great Turtle Park as riders warmed up for the 2017 Mary Milton Memorial Horse Show, bringing the Mackinac Island equestrian community together last Saturday, August 5.

The annual Island horse show is a long-time event where the Mackinac Island 4-H Club and Little Barn show the equestrian skills their riders had developed. The organizers chose Great Turtle Park as the site of the show ring.

“Why don’t we just, say, save the date and make it a community horse show here,” said Candice Dunnigan recalling the impetus for the decision. “It’s a good central location, you can picnic, you can swing, it’s a real core of the Island, and it’s free because we felt that it should be free for participants because it is a great space.”


Jack Kaminen competes in the Flag Race event, in which he had to jump, remove a rope and reattach it to a pole, walk over bushes, remove a raincoat and place it back on the pole, and pick up a bag from a barrel and drop it on another barrel. Jack Kaminen competes in the Flag Race event, in which he had to jump, remove a rope and reattach it to a pole, walk over bushes, remove a raincoat and place it back on the pole, and pick up a bag from a barrel and drop it on another barrel. This year’s sponsors were the Mackinac Island Recreation Department, Mackinac Island Children’s Riding Academy, Mackinac Island 4-H Club, and the Mackinac Horsemen’s Association Community Equestrian Center.

This year’s horse show honored Mary Milton as a role model who left a lasting impact on the Island equestrian community. Mrs. Milton came to Mackinac Island in the 1950s with her husband Robert, children Gillian, Susan, and David, and the family’s horses and dogs in the 1950s. They resided on the West Bluff in the summers.

Mrs. Milton, who grew up near Baltimore, was a seasoned rider when she first moved to Mackinac. The whole family rode and part of the allure of having a summer home on the Island was that, in those days, most of the cottagers on the bluffs and in Hubbard’s Annex had young children. Horses were a form of family recreation for many of them.


Trophies and ribbons await the winners in this year’s horse show. Each young rider received at least a ribbon for competing in the show and practicing their riding techniques during the past year. Trophies and ribbons await the winners in this year’s horse show. Each young rider received at least a ribbon for competing in the show and practicing their riding techniques during the past year. She became the most recognizable Island personality regarding all things equine during the summer. Mrs. Milton encouraged summer residents such as the Straus family to make sure they had a horse for the children to ride on Mackinac Island. She helped find horses for folks who wanted them and used her knowledge of riding to help adults and children enjoy it.

Michael Straus, son of Lorna Straus, was one year old when Mrs. Milton gave his family their first horse.


Riders and their mounts line up at Great Turtle Park. The show honors Mary Milton, who got many of these young equestrians’ parents involved in riding. All of them trotted away with a ribbon or trophy and it proved to be a fun-filled day to spend with family, friends, and horses. Riders and their mounts line up at Great Turtle Park. The show honors Mary Milton, who got many of these young equestrians’ parents involved in riding. All of them trotted away with a ribbon or trophy and it proved to be a fun-filled day to spend with family, friends, and horses. “Our first horse’s name was Sailboat, thanks to Mary,” said Mr. Straus. “Sailboat taught me how to ride and my brothers and sister also competed in the horse show and were very accomplished. Sailboat was a wellknown horse on the Island.”

Mr. Straus, Leanne Brodeur, Cindy Francis, and Patricia Martin are among the many riders

Mrs. Milton helped teach when they were children, and who also participated in the horse show.

Decades later, the event, now named for Mrs. Milton, continues to thrive and brings young riders together to compete in 12 classes. It involves a new generation of kids whose parents were taught by Mrs. Milton.


Lily Schoenborn rides Henry in the Walk/Trot event. Contestants rode at a walk or trot as the judge commanded. Lily Schoenborn rides Henry in the Walk/Trot event. Contestants rode at a walk or trot as the judge commanded. “I remember in one horse show up here, and I had a horse but he was just being nuts,” said Ms. Martin, looking back at childhood. “Mary told me to get on her horse, Blue, and trusted me. It was very sweet of her.”

Mrs. Milton’s horses were known for being the best at the horse show, the envy of others who nevertheless appreciated her hard work and dedication to the young riders and families in the Island community. The horse show has been around since the 1960s and has helped educate riders about the skills and rules involved in competition.

“The horse show this year has been fantastic and the turnout has been nice. I think they’ve done a nice job,” said Mr. Straus, who was at the show supporting his daughter, Ariana. “It’s kind of back to what I remember when I was a little kid, and that’s good.”


Patricia Martin takes Grey through the Rusty Cup course. She recalled learning about riding as a young girl from horse show namesake Mary Milton. Patricia Martin takes Grey through the Rusty Cup course. She recalled learning about riding as a young girl from horse show namesake Mary Milton. Eighteen youth riders were suited up and aboard their horses in the ring as guests were seated under sunny skies. Mrs. Dunnigan was in the ring with the judge, Gabrielle Deters Snider, and helper, Denise Webber, viewing the horses and riders competing in the various classes.

“This is a lot of fun. The kids are working really hard with their horses and are making good teams and everyone is out here enjoying it,” said Ms. Snider. The nice part about coming to this show, she said, is that the riders really enjoy working with their horse and are not just trying to win a ribbon.

Each contestant completed various tasks, including one in which riders were required to toss a carrot into a bucket while on horseback. The kids dressed their horses in special attire for an entertaining Mary Milton Memorial costume contest at the beginning of the show.

After each event was finished, riders lined up in front of the judge, waiting anxiously as she made her decisions. Not everyone received a first- place ribbon or trophy, but all of the young riders rode away with some type of ribbon or a trophy in hand as a reward for their efforts.

“I am just in awe about the way the whole Island community comes together with all their horse programs,” said Ms. Webber.

It was her seventh visit to the Island and first time helping with the horse show.

“What Mary started here is just really phenomenal, and it just does my heart so much good to see all of them down here today doing this. It’s been a real pleasure.”

As the horse show began to wind down, young riders clutching ribbons and trophies searched for their parents, eager to share their joy. The legacy of Mrs. Milton lives on in the Island’s horse community and brought families out for another great day in the ring.

Mary Milton Memorial Horse Show Results

1. Mary Milton Memorial Costume (Open to all ages)

Sponsored by Dennis and Cynthia Cawthorne

1st, Celia Goodrow and Maycie Cunningham tied; 2nd, Jane St. Onge

2. Lead line, 10 years and under

Sponsored by Loretta and Tony Spata

1st, Charlotte Chambers, Jaydn Rickley, Megan Cotton, and Cecelia Goodrow tied

3. Carrot toss, 18 and under

Sponsored by Andrew Doud, Doud’s Market

Western

1st, Lily Schoenborn; 2nd, Maycie Cunningham

English

1st, Nora Bailey; 2nd, Maycie Cunningham; 3rd, Rachel Hubel

4. Walk/ Trot - unassisted, 18 and under

Sponsored by Candice and Brian Dunnigan and Patricia Martin, Bogan Lane Inn

Western

1st, Jane St. Onge; 2nd, Nora Bailey

English

1st, Nora Bailey; 2nd, Maycie Cunningham; 3rd, Rachel Hubel

5. Trail - English or Western

Sponsored by Debra and Sandra Orr in honor of all the horses on Mackinac and especially Dynamite.

Age 5-12

1st, Rachel Hubel; 2nd, Opal Fomish; 3rd, Anna Kaminen

Age 13-18

1st, Ariana Straus

Adult

1st, Patricia Martin; 2nd, Candice Dunnigan

6. Walk, Trot, Canter, age 12- 18, English Equitation

Sponsored by Valerie and Phil Porter

1st, Nora Bailey; 2nd, Maycie Cunningham; 3rd, Jack Kaminen; 4th, Ariana Straus

7. Walk, Trot, Canter - Western

Sponsored by Vicki and Dick Riel

1st, Opal Fomish; 2nd, Makayla Rickley

8. X rails + 6-inch rail

Sponsored by Lisa Brock and Peter Pellerito

1st, Rachel Hubel; 2nd, Ariana Straus

9. Flag Race- timed event - Open

Sponsored by Mike Gamble, Gamble Construction

1st, Ariana Straus; 2nd, Jack Kaminen

10. Rusty Cup - Senior Simon Says

Sponsored by Vic Callewaert, Island House Hotel

1st, Melissa Straus; 2nd, Patricia Martin

11. Barrels (Open)

Sponsored by Karen and Jack Barnwell

1st, Opal Fomish; 2nd, Rachel Hubel; 3rd, Nora Bailey; 4th, Sophie Beech; 5th, Jane St. Onge; 6th, Makayla Rickley

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