Here’s a promise – this is the last blog this year on horses leaving the island, but I just couldn’t let this group of “big guys” leave without writing about it.
On my way downtown this afternoon, I walked over to the Carriage Museum, knowing this was a clean-up day in preparation for closing down tomorrow. I wanted to say goodbye to Denise, Kim, Judy, and several others before they left for the winter.
The Carriage Tours are still running for a few more days, but they are bypassing the museum now, taking passengers through town, up Grand Hill, then on out into the woods. The big three-horse hitch carriages are not being used at all for the rest of the season.
The museum was so quiet – no hustle and bustle of tourists lined up to buy doughnuts, popcorn, ice cream, fudge, souvenirs, or t-shirts. Instead, all the store keepers were folding up left-over merchandise, cleaning out refrigerators, and covering items that would be left in the building over the winter.
We all said “see you in the spring” and exchanged emails, cellphone numbers, and addresses. Nearly all these workers are coming south down I-75 sometime during the winter, and I invited them to stop off and see us. I hope some of them take us up on that.
I walked down Huron Road to Turkey Hill, the first time I had been downtown that way in a few days. More beautiful trees!
As I walked down the hill by the golf course, there was a groundskeeper sitting on his mower, waiting for a golfer to play through, so he could finish manicuring the green.
I knew that a group of the big Belgian horses, which pull the three-horse hitch carriages and also pull the drays, had already left the island this morning. Jill happened to be downtown when they came through and got some great pictures of them. I was disappointed I had missed it, but thought, “well, I can’t see them all leave.”
Jill saw them first coming down Market Street.
From there, they turned down Astor Street, then onto Main, then into the Arnold Ferry Dock.
I love these next three photos that Jill took. They show exactly how BIG these horses are and how attached they get to the people, like Nate, who take care of them over the season.
I met up with Jill at the post office, and when we came out and looked down Market Street, there was another group of Belgians coming!
We rushed over to Main and watched them come down to the dock.
Once again, each barn worker was handling three or four of these massive animals at one time, but there never seemed to be anything but anticipation exhibited by the horses. They seemed to know what was happening, as if they knew that the fun part of their year was about to begin.
I asked one of the Arnold Dock employees if I could go onto the ferry and take a picture of the horses on board, and he graciously allowed me to do that. I went inside and walked up a couple of the steps leading to the second deck. The long ferry was filled with about 20 horses, standing quietly tethered to the railing running along the inside of the ferry.
As the Huron pulled away from the dock, the horses inside were peering out the windows as if to say goodbye to a long summer of hard work. I bet they were already talking horsetalk among themselves, planning a BIG party at the farm after they arrived in Pickford.
Have a great winter, big guys. See you next spring!
See you back here on Monday morning, good Lord willing, for a week full of October activities. Mackinac Island is already preparing for a good old-fashioned, fun-filled Halloween, and those leaves should be “almost” at their peak! Have a great weekend! God bless.