Saturday was a very subdued day at the Festival of the Horse – for all the workers and anyone connected in any way to horses. Shortly after returning to the Island from the airport, the devastating news of a tragic fire at a horse training facility downstate reached me online – nine horses were lost, and one of them was Ferrari, one of Maryanke Alexander’s glorious Friesians. Maryanke and Ferrari had begun competing in Dressage, and her goals for the future with him were etched deeply in her heart. He was a very, very special horse, and, as she does all her horses, Maryanke loved him passionately and completely. Maryanke left on the first ferry out Saturday morning to go downstate.
I was scheduled to work the Festival from 12:30-3:30 at the admission table. My work-time coincided with the Breed Show – an event I’ve written about for the past two years – so I really had no plans to photograph it again. But my co-worker at the table said, “Go – photograph! I can handle this!”
Just as I was walking away from the table, a family with three children stepped up, wanting to go on the pony rides, which were offered at specific times every day of the Festival. The rides had ended 15 minutes earlier, and all the horses were on their way back to the barn. This precious little 3-year-old boy had been crying all morning to “ride a horse”, and his parents were so disappointed they had missed the opportunity.
Just then, I looked up to see Barb walking onto the Burroughs Lot, leading their family pony, Topaz – with one of her grandchildren astride. Topaz would take the arena later in the Paint division of the Breed Show. On this day, filled with such sadness, it just seemed extra-important – if possible – for anyone with a love of horses to connect with them – no matter how young, no matter how briefly. I walked over and asked Barb if she would allow the little boy to ride Topaz around the arena, and she beamed “Yes! Of course!”
I stayed out at the arena and snapped photographs for an hour. Here are a few of my favorites (some from Friday) of our precious Mackinac horses -and the owners and riders who love them so.
In Loving Memory of Ferrari
Somewhere…somewhere in time’s own space
There must be some sweet pastured place
Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
Some Paradise where horses go.
For by the love that guides my pen
I know great horses live again.
We pray God’s peace to Maryanke and all the owners who lost horses on Friday night.