If you love horses like I do, Mackinac Island’s Festival of the Horse was where you should have been this weekend. This was the 5th year of the festival, and each year the crowd grows, and the events get more spectacular. From very small beginnings five years ago, the Festival of the Horse is now considered a major event for the island – one people are coming to Mackinac specifically to attend. They know they will see all of our island breeds displaying their special talents, as well as world-renown horse experts showing off their well-trained steeds and teaching the crowd how they can do the same with horses at home.
Thursday was all about the kids, with awesome horse-related games and pony rides (the pony rides continued each day of the festival and were VERY popular). Unfortunately I didn’t make it that day because Ted and I went to Petoskey. I also didn’t get to this morning’s (Sunday) Island Driving Demo & Clinic. But on Friday and Saturday, I was around most of the time, and all I can say is, “Wow! What a festival!” If I took you through the four days, you’d be here all night, so I’m going to try and stick to a few highlights.
The other featured performer was to be Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship from Australia. The name comes from there being two “Dan’s” – Dan James and Dan Steer. Dan brought part of his team and four horses with him including the world famous Apollo.
When I arrived at the festival to work on Friday, I learned that during the night Apollo had to be rushed to the Michigan State Veterinary School – an emergency that included a call to and visit from island vet Dr. Al Sibinic, a middle of the night walk from the Mackinac Island Equestrian Center to British Landing, and a boat trip on Shepler’s Sacre Bleu. When they arrived in St. Ignace, they found they didn’t have the correct hitch for the horse trailer they had left on the mainland. They combed the parking lot for the correct hitch on someone else’s vehicle, took it off, left a generous sum of money with a note that read, “horse emergency” and took off for Michigan State. Wonder of wonders, the people whose hitch they borrowed were at the horse festival on Friday and telling about finding the hitch gone, the money and the note. No worries at all from them, they were glad to be able to help out.
On Saturday morning we got the news that Apollo was suffering from laninitis, caused by consuming a toxic weed (hoary alyssum) which was in the hay they purchased on their way through Michigan to Mackinac. The hay seller was contacted, and all the hay was destroyed. Apollo was a very, very sick horse, and the vets at Michigan State have worked with him all weekend. I’m very happy to say that the last report is that he is improving, but it is still unknown if there will be lasting problems caused by this weed. All of Dan’s horses except one consumed the same hay, but different horses react differently to it. There can be a delayed reaction, so all the horses have been watched over all weekend by Dan himself up in the Equestrian Center on the island. One horse refused to eat the hay.
We pray that Apollo comes through this ordeal with no ill effects and that the other horses show no other symptoms.
With all this going on, it fell on one of Dan’s teammates to carry out the part of the show Double Dan had been planning.
Our local stars, Maryanke Alexander and Michelle Stuck was also there and performed with their Friesians to the music “Croation Rhapsody.”
It’s going to be really, really hard to come up with a festival next year that is better than this one was, but knowing this group of equestrians, I have no doubt they will do just that! The planning is already underway for Festival of the Horse – Year Six. I’ll let you know when the date is announced so you can begin to make plans to attend!
Personal Note: It’s going to be a really busy week – working on Monday, appointments off Island on Tuesday and Wednesday, and on Thursday our son, Jason, from Atlanta flies in. Yeahhhh!!! Because of all that, and especially because Jason’s coming, I’m going to take this week off from the computer and just enjoy! I’ll see you back here on Sunday evening (August 18).
Have a great, great week! God bless.
Wow, that looks like so much fun! Wish I had know about it sooner. Definetly have to try to make it for next years festival.
I LOVE your header picture! Such a character! What a wonderful weekend. Someday . . .
Thank you for all the beautiful horses. Hello to Jason. You and Ted enjoy the visit. I know Jason will. I saw on your Facebook page that Apollo is improving. I hope the other horses don’t get sick too.
As a fellow horse person – I definitely sympathize with Dan and Apollo. Buying hay can be a bit of a scary venture as there are many things that will bother horses when it comes to weeds and mold. I have been following Apollo’s progress through Dan’s Facebook page as well. Hoping all is well. As for the other horse of his – I believe that is Amelia. She is quite the character. Thanks for all of the photos and the update. Wish I could have been there.
P.S. Thank you for taking all of the photos of the carriage parade. Wish I could have been there for that as well. Maybe next year. I just need someone to babysit my horses so I can leave for a day or two. Too bad I can’t just bring them with me. Wouldn’t that be fun!
Great pictures and capturing the festival for all of us to see.
Awesome pictures! Would love to see that many horses all in one place at one time…what fun. Hope Apollo keeps getting better and none of the other horses get sick. What a shame that had to happen. Cute story about the hitch. 🙂 Enjoy your time with Jason!
13 more days…..
Can’t wait to see y’all, Hilde!
Sent from my iPhone
One word: EXQUISITE!
I have looked forward to your post on the horses every year since your first one! So glad the island community has continued it. They’re doing a beautiful job, and one of these years I hope to make it up to see it.
Once again, thanks for bringing all things Mackinac to those of us who love it so.
The Festival of the Horse is my favorite. Such beautiful animals and talented riders. Your pics are great! Best wishes to Apollo and the others. What an adventure that turned out to be.
Have a great visit with your son, and well see you back here Sunday.❤🐴
I’m so jealous right now, that event looks AWESOME! I was just reading about it on Alli’s blog (she’s the one who unwittingly contributed the hitch :D) and I think I’m going to have to put it on my list of things to do at least once in life. 😀 I’m sure I can’t afford to live on the island and drive horses all day the way I’d like to, but one day I’m definitely going to make it out for the festival. 😀
I just noticed Jason was visiting you. Hope you are all having an incredible time together!!! Hello to Ted & Jason.
Excellent coverage of the horse fair. I hope I can attend next year. I love horses! I certainly hope Apollo will pull through this ordeal and come back better than ever. Thanks again for the wonderful photos and coverage!
Thank you again for all the wonderful pictures and stories.
It was so nice to see you on Mon and to see Jill at the bookstore, and then to meet you at Jill at the ferry!! We had a wonderful vacation on the Island!! Have a great week with your son!!