From Sails to Horseshoes 5/21/2012

“A pony is a childhood dream. A horse is an adulthood treasure.”  Author unknown

Many little girls dream of owning a horse, but as a child, Mary Stancik wanted a sailboat.

It was perfectly natural.  Mary’s family was into sailing, and for many years Mary and her mom traveled to Mackinac Island to wait for her brother and father to arrive in the family boat, which they sailed annually in the Chicago to Mackinac Race.   Following each race, the family would spend a few days playing “tourist” on the Island, before sailing the boat together to St. Joe.  It was on one of those “after the race” vacations that Mary rode a horse for the very first time.

Mary remembers: “Dad and I rented a couple of horses from Jack’s Livery.  I still remember their names – Dad’s horse was Poncho, and mine was Bob.  We got up into the middle of the Island and wanted to take the right-hand trail back to town.  The horses had other ideas, obviously knowing the left-hand trail was the fastest way back to the barn.  My horse Bob sat right down in a patch of prickler bushes and refused to budge until we agreed to turn left.  We were back at Jack’s in less than an hour.”

And that was Mary’s last time on a horse until 35 years later – once again on Mackinac Island.

Mary has been the Director of Grounds and Golf for the Grand Hotel for several years now.  I met her three years ago when I was walking past the Grand, and Mary yelled, “Are you Bree, the blogger?” at me from the middle of the tulip bed where she was standing.  “Why yes I am!” I said, so excited someone recognized me.  A friendship was struck that day in the middle of red, yellow and white flowers, and it grows stronger each summer.

One of our first conversations was about horses.  Like Mary, I had watched Maryanke Alexander and Michelle Stuck ride their Friesians around the Island.  I’d never seen one before and neither had Mary.  At the very first Festival of the Horse – at the Breed Show – we both watched Maryanke and Michelle perform with their Friesians, and we both were hooked.  I soon learned Mary was even more hooked than I.

With Maryanke and Michelle’s encouragement, Mary took riding lessons at the end of that summer.  Suddenly, Mary’s mind was no longer filled with sails.  Instead, her dreams turned to shining black steeds, flowing manes, unbelievable power and beauty, and hearts almost as big as their massive bodies.  Mary wanted a Friesian.

Once more Maryanke and Michelle stepped in, looking for the perfect horse for Mary, who admittedly had little horse experience.  They found Teddie, who will be 14 years old this summer.  He is huge, he is shiny black, his mane – cut short because he was used to teach small children to ride – is not flowing, but it will grow.  And his heart – oh my goodness.

Mary purchased Teddie last fall and took lessons with him over the winter in Grand Rapids, where he was boarded.  This spring she brought him up to Hiawatha Hawk Ranch in Mackinac City for a few weeks, where he was cared for by Angie, Joe and Abigail Ostman, and it was the Ostmans who accompanied Teddie over to the Island last week (along with Mary).  Teddie handled his first ferry ride like a champ (a little dose of horsy tranquilizer didn’t hurt either).

From water to solid ground – Teddie’s first steps on Mackinac Island. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Teddie shared his ferry ride with the gorgeous Hackneys from the Grand Hotel – or maybe they shared their ride with Teddie – anyway, they rode over together!

Walking up the Arnold Ferry dock toward town. Mary is leading Teddie, then that’s Angie, Abigail and Joe Ostman from Hiawatha Hawk Ranch.

Ben Mosley, in charge of all the Grand Hotel horses, leads two Hackneys up Market Street.

We make the turn up Cadotte Avenue. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Up Grand Hill. Don’t you wonder what Teddie must have been thinking?

Making the turn toward what will be his new home . . . (Photo:  Jill Sawatzki)

The sign says it all, “Welcome Home, Teddie!”

What more could a good horse ask for? Green grass . . .

. . . and fresh hay.

Mary and the Ostman girls – Angie and Abigail.

Bear and I walked over to see Teddie this afternoon and found Mary busy mucking out the corral as Teddie munched on oats.  I sat down in the door of Teddie’s barn and brushed Bear as I watched Mary go about the business of being a horse owner.  She’d shovel a load of manure into the wheelbarrow, then turn and talk softly for a few minutes with Teddie – scratching his ears, sweeping down his neck with her hand, a love so big already shining between them that my eyes filled with tears.

No, Teddie isn’t a sailboat.  But who needs to sail across the water when you can ride across the land, astride one of God’s most beautiful creatures.

Welcome to Mackinac, Teddie.  What gifts you and Mary are to each other!

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36 thoughts on “From Sails to Horseshoes 5/21/2012

  1. Hi Bree,
    Just wanted to say I love your blog! I have been following you for a little over a year now.
    My husband and I try to visit the island at least once a year. I was thinking about visiting the island over memorial day weekend but, I was just wondering if you could tell me how busy the island usually becomes during this time?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Rebecca! Memorial Day weekend is usually pretty busy, as folks use the long weekend to officially celebrate the beginning of summer. It’s nothing like July 4 or the two yacht race weekends though. I’d say “go for it!”

  2. I am so happy for Mary – but so jealous for myself. Someday I will have to figure out how to get my horses onto that island!!!!! Glad Teddie had a safe trip and I am sure Mary is beside herself with happiness.

  3. Brenda,

    Do you have any idea how good a writer you are? What a blog! And the pictures? So good, both yours and Jill’s.

    Oh, I almost forgot. Teddie must really be an exceptionally smart horse to have been able to read that welcome home sign?

  4. What a great story! Yes, you do have to wonder what Teddie was thinking on his walk up to his new home. The last photo is just terrific. I’m so happy for Mary and Teddie!

  5. What a touching story…..so excited for her and what a great summer she and Teddie will have!

  6. Something new to look forward to this summer. Mary and Teddie are so fortunate to have found each other. Now in addition to Mary’s beautiful flowers for the Grand, she needs to have a private carrot patch for Teddie.
    Beautiful journey finding each other.

  7. Is Teddie’s barn by MacGuyver’s? We always walk over to say hi to him, now we can say hi to Teddie too. What a beautiful horse.

  8. Mary looks so very happy…..God bless her and her wonderful horse. I know Teddie will love her.

    Excellent photos as usual. Thanks Jill for your additions! Love the colors of the new stable by the Grand, very outstanding. Also the “Three Amigos” photo is just darling. Nice that they get along so well and that Maddie could stand still with them long enough for you to get that shot.

  9. Brenda, Loved this story.
    I have another question-I saw on several blogs that the lilacs are bloomiing is this true? At this rate they will not be around for the festival.

    Pat Steele

    • They are beginning to, Pat, although from what I’ve seen, it’s very sporatic. I’m thinking another week-10 days before they’re in full bloom everywhere – then hopefully one-two weeks at their peak. So maybe they’ll still be around at least at the beginning of Festival.

  10. How exciting to have Teddie on the island! I remember your blog about him and Mary so I searched through your previous blogs and found it on Sept 11, 2011 to re-read it. You were demonstrating your “equestrian riding” abilities which made me laugh because I am sure I would look the same! How are straight legs suppose to go around the horse’s round belly and yet we are suppose to stay on?! Anyway, you and Bear & Maddie will have a new friend to visit!

  11. I think Ted (& maybe Lori) have some photos to take credit for in this WONDERFUL, well written, story about Mary & Teddie. So much fun to be part of the happy journey.

  12. What a beautiful story, Brenda. Mary & Teddie look wonderful together! It was so nice to see all the familiar faces too! Can’t wait to get there!

  13. Teddie’s color is so close to the color of our own dark bay thoroughbred that we lost 2 years ago. When our daughter was 12 years old, she bought our beloved Moonshadow Dancer who was 10 at the time. Dancer remained a member of our family for 18 wonderful years. When Tony and I come up to the Island in September, I hope we can come and see Teddie and Mary. He is a magnificant animal and Mary looks so happy and proud to have him as a family member.

  14. What a wonderful story. Bree you have a great gift in writing !!!!!!! I do not think you know how good you are. How long does it take your body to get use to the island every year. All those hills are hard on me !!!!!!

    • Thanks for the sweet words, Sally. It takes about two weeks to get over the soreness from the hill climbs – especially if I’ve been a couch potato all winter (which I have been this year). Haven’t even gotten on my bike yet. But Ted rode his bike the second day we were here and came all the way up our hill without stopping. He is in soooo much better shape than I am!

  15. Hi Bree – I found your blog about 6 months ago and have been following regularly. I live in Savannah, Georgia, but am actually from Michigan and grew up on the Island every summer. My grandparents owned a home on the West Bluff. When they owned it, it was called the Petunia Palace. I keep hoping for a glimpse of the house – now owned by the Manoogians. My grandparents are buried on the island. I love this story about Mary and Teddie – absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing the island with us all – makes me a little less homesick to see and hear of it regularly. Best, LeeAnn Williams Aldridge

    • Welcome LeeAnn! I’ve emailed you privately with a response to your request. It might go into your “junk” filter, so I thought I might better let you know.

  16. I fell in love with horses at the ripe age of 50! Where did that come from? I sure enjoy your blog. I was born and raised in Michigan, and last summer I took my husband to the Island for the first time. I have so many wonderful memories of Lk. Superior as well (went to NMU in the 70’s). Hello Michigan!

  17. I just found your blog and find it quite interesting. My wife and I were on Mackinac Island May 20-21 for the first time (Canadian holiday weekend) and we watched those horses coming off the ferry while we were sitting on the front porch of the Lake View Hotel. We visited the Stuart House Museum on May 21 and the volunteer there asked us if we had any breast cancer quarters when she found out we were Canadians. We didn’t have any then but I have since acquired one. I’d like to send it to her but I didn’t get her name.
    The lilacs were just starting to bloom and I’ll bet the scent is quite strong when they are all in full bloom.
    Mackinac Island is a lovely spot and I hope to visit again.

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