The Festival of the Horse – Part I 7/26/2010

If you love horses (which I do), can ride them (which I can’t), and can’t seem to ever get enough of them (which I never do) – the next two days of this blog are for you! 

I worked all day Friday at the Burroughs Lot – below the Grand Hotel – at the Festival of the Horse.  My official duty was to sell tickets out near the sidewalk (I was supposed to catch people as they walked by on their way to or from the Grand), and I think I did a pretty good job (considering if food for the family was based on my salesmanship, we would be in mighty big trouble).  The fact that horses were coming and going into the lot all day did a lot for business – the fact that all the horses were beautiful, graceful, and majestic didn’t hurt either!

Wearing my volunteer t-shirt, button, and apron, I was pretty mobile all day and able to wander from street to tent to arena at will.  Therefore, I took a LOT of photos, and I’m so excited to share them with you below.  The four events I photographed at the arena on Friday were the “Exodus” Music Kur, the Driving Demos, the Hunter Jumper Demos, and the Friesian Force: “Puttin’ on the Ritz” Musical Kur.

Now, I didn’t have a clue what a “kur” was when I saw that on the program.  I knew it had to do with music and horses, but the word was totally new to me.  To figure out what a kur is, I first had to understand dressage.  Dressage is the “path and destination of competitive horse training, with all levels from amateur to the Olympics.  Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse’s natural ability and willingness to perform, maximizing its potential as a riding horse.  At the peak of a dressage horse’s gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider’s minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless.”  In other words, dressage is like a ballet for horses.   A “kur” is a relatively new element in dressage, in which riders choreograph the horses’ movements to specific selected music.

I didn’t get over to the “Exodus” Kur in time to photograph a lot of it, but I did get a few shots:

Maryanke on "Regina" and Michelle on "Gysbert".


Michelle - riding Gysbert, her 8-year old Friesian who was born in the Netherlands.

Maryanke - answering questions from the crowd and riding Regina, her 13-year-old Friesian, who will foal early next year. Maryanke calls Regina her "Rapunzel" because of the horse's long, flowing mane (41" at last measure). Friesians' manes are never cut.

The driving demonstrations were presented just off the Cadotte Street sidewalk and drew quite the crowd when the action began. 

Lined up and ready to go, the carriages await their turn through the driving course.

I believe these four Haflingers were the only horses participating in the festival that do not reside on Mackinac Island. To me, they look like beautiful miniature Palaminos.

Ben Mosley - driving two of the Grand Hotel Hackneys. Hackneys are born with this high-stepping gait.

I was not standing where I could hear the information about this carriage, the horse, or its driver, but I couldn't pass up showing them just because of a little detail like that. Beautiful!

Another of Michelle's Friesians. Friesians are very versatile and can be trained for riding or for driving.

One of the most FUN events to watch was the 4-H Club students riding their ponies and horses for the Hunter and Jumping Demos.  I won’t post captions on these, as they pretty much speak for themselves.  These students ride horses that are themselves part of the 4-H program, on loan to the island during the summer.  The majority of them leave the island for the winter months and are used by 4-H Clubs in other parts of the state for training riders.





The last activity of the afternoon was the Friesian Force: “Puttin’ on the Ritz” Musical Kur.  The four horses trained together for weeks before this performance, and they were a huge hit.  The riders and their horses were dressed in tuxedos for the kur – I just wish I could play the music in the background as you look at these pics.  Again, no captions needed.










My friend Frankie - working the admissions table.

The Grand Hotel Hackneys leaving the Burroughs Lot to head back to the stables.

Our island vet, Doc Al, in his buggy, pulled by his two Standard Bred horses. One of these horses - Skip - is the sweetie who got jittery and pitched me out of a buggy last year. You can read that story at

 Tomorrow there will be photos from the Breed Horse Show and a few more random shots from this weekend.  Then on Wednesday – a vintage baseball game!  See you Tuesday morning!

8 thoughts on “The Festival of the Horse – Part I 7/26/2010

  1. Seeing the pictures of the Friesians rreminds me of the Lipizzaner horses we saw in FL last winter. It is amasing how these horses perform. Looks like everyone was having a good time.

  2. What wonderful pictures! It looks like you had a wonderful weekend! Those Friesians are so beautiful.. as were the costumes their riders had on. Happy Monday to you!

  3. All the horses seem to move with such grace. They are absolutely beautiful. I wish I could of heard the music but I think I heard a little of puttin on the ritz, oh wait, that was me humming. 😉 Love, love, love the pictures.

  4. Beautiful horses, beautiful day, beautiful pictures! I’m so glad to hear abou tthis festival. Maybe I can actually make it in a couple of years. What fun!
    And thank you Patrick, for the link to Facebook. More fun!

  5. How cool!! I live on the western end of the UP and have only made it to the island once. Will most definitely have to try and make it for the festival within the next couple of years!

    Great blog! Came across it on facebook post.

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