No Mystery Spot tonight. No island photos.
Tonight is a quiet celebration of a life that ended this week on the Island . . . a life that meant so much to so many children in our 4-H Program and to the hundreds of children who, over the years, would just walk by the barn, see him standing there and reach over the fence to pet him.
Tonight we celebrate Prancer.
Little is known about Prancer’s early years – before he was purchased by the Koboski family in Petoskey for their two daughters – but it’s thought he was a “camp” horse. He stayed with the Koboski girls until they were grown, and then the family donated him to the Mackinac Island 4-H Program. He spent his summers here for the last six years, and for the last two years Prancer was sponsored by the Mackinac Island Book Club.
Prancer was a beautiful mix of Arabian and Quarter Horse, and Leanne Brodeur, who is in charge of the 4-H program, believed he was in his early 20’s. She said, “Prancer was a perky horse, but always so good with the children. He always had a great willingness to do whatever was asked of him, was very patient, and could be depended upon to be good in his stall. He was gentle, had a huge heart and a special dignity.”
Prancer was already being ridden this summer for lessons, and we saw him just a few nights ago come by the condo, ridden by a summer intern from the Community Stable.
Colic, that bane of a horse-person’s world, took him fast yesterday. Mackinac Island has two of the best horse-care vets to be found anywhere, but all their efforts failed.
Too often we take for granted these beautiful animals that fill our lives here on the Island. We see them every day – the big draft horses pulling taxis and carriages and drays. We see the gorgeous hackneys prancing around the Island, harnessed to vintage carriages. We become accustomed to the spirit and beautiful lines of the privately owned Arabians, Friesians, Thoroughbreds, Paints, Pintos and Quarter Horses. We know all these horses receive the best care in the world.
But we sometimes forget how well-loved they are. The big Percherons and Belgians in the horse barns receive unbelievable love each day from those who feed and work with them. They stand patiently downtown while visitors pet them and pose next to their beautiful heads for photographs. These animals know only love from human hands. The privately-owned horses are members of their families – pampered, trained with a gentle hand, loved unconditionally.
In an email this morning, Leanne wrote: “Horses have served mankind in peace and war and continue to serve today in a recreational and therapeutic capacity. On the Island, they become part of our everyday life; we have our favorites, we know them by name, and as a community we treasure each of them, maybe some more than others. They give so much and ask little in return. We are blessed to live in a place where the clip clop and neigh replace the engine roar and honking horn. And we know our transportation by name!”
The loss of even one horse affects the whole Island. Prancer’s loss has done that, and the comments and tributes to him on Facebook this morning give credence to his life and his influence throughout our community. Someone posted, ” Prancer was a big-hearted little horse who took great care of the kids.”
Our little Prancer would take that as the best tribute of all.