Throw Back Tuesday – From Sails to Horseshoes 2/14/17

Personal Note:  I thought this was a perfect post today since it involves a good friend who I don’t get to see or talk to nearly enough anymore.  Today is Mary Stancik’s birthday (she was born on Valentine’s Day and will forever be known to those of us who love her as Mary Valentine).  She no longer works on Mackinac Island, but her great friend Teddie is still very much a part of her life!  Happy Birthday, dear Mary – please hug Teddie (my grand-horse) for me!

Header:  A sunset captured a couple of days ago by Clark Bloswick.

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This post was irst published in May, 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!

“I Know Great Horses Live Again.” 8/12/2012

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!”

Down came the grandson, and up went Jacob for a thrill-of-his-life THREE circuits of the arena, led by Barb.

A happy little boy.

Jacob’s six-year-old sister Madelyn also got to ride. Thanks so much, Barb, for making the day for these two!

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.

From Friday – Maryanke on her beautiful Regina for the musical kur, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”.

“Puttin’ on the Ritz” was presented again on Saturday – with Michelle Stuck stepping up for Maryanke and riding Gysbert.  That’s Ann on Lars East, Katie on Teddie, and Kate on Hercules.

Michelle – on her magnificent Gysbert on Saturday.

Little Blaze, a Haflinger – and every 4-H child’s favorite Island horse. He can do it all, and he can do it well.

Ann Levy on Lars East.

The mighty Percheron, Dan.

Every little girl wants a horse, and this one got her wish very early. She’s on her much loved Ricky – a miniature.

Kate – on Hercules – walking onto the Burroughs Lot.

Topaz, our “fill-in” for the pony ride! Here, Barb leads him with grandson Aiden aboard.

Doc Al – with Skip, a Standardbred.

Katie on Mary Stancik’s Teddie (my handsome god-horse).

From Friday – Maryanke on Regina and Katie on Teddie.

Regina looks on as I pose with Teddie – just before he slobbered all over my head.

“Wow! How many oats do I need to get THAT big!?”

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.

Stanley Harrison

Ferrari and Maryanke – in a recent Dressage competition.

At a past Festival of the Horse – Maryanke on Ferrari – riding the wind.

We pray God’s peace to Maryanke and all the owners who lost horses on Friday night.  

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!

Loving Those Parades! 6/24/2010

The Lilac Festival ended on Sunday, and the culminating event was the huge parade starting at Mission Point and progressing all the way down Main Street.  Ted and I have seen several of these parades in our 10 years of coming to the island, and we both agreed this year’s was the best we’ve seen.  The theme was Broadway Musicals.

I will be honest and admit I’m a little disappointed in the photos I’m going to post.  Unfortunately, I chose comfort over position this year, and watching the parade from the second floor of the Visitor’s Center was extremely comfortable – but definitely NOT the best angle for great photos.  So, with apologies for not giving you my best on this one, here are a few snaphots from the parade.

Our neighbor Donald "Duck" Andress - leading the parade as he has since he was first asked to do so by parade founder Stella King 36 years ago. Andress is a direct descendant of Chief Mackinac, a Korean War-era veteran, a retired carpenter, and a former boxer. He is 74 years old.

The 61st Lilac Festival Queen and her court. Lilac Festival Queen is Marie Bunker, and members of her court are Maggie Chambers, Mabel Styburski, and Morgan Brodeur-Bunker.

The Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Band from Sault Ste. Marie, MI.

The entry from one of my favorite shops on Mackinac - Little Luxuries.

A group of Michigan Girl Scouts - in the middle of a dance routine.

The Doud's Market entry. This is the kind of wagon used years ago by Doud's to deliver groceries to island residents.

One of many bagpipe and drum bands that participated in the parade.

The musical is "Grease", but for the life of me, I can't remember which business this was. I'm sorry!

The entry for Photos by Blair.

More bagpipes!

One of several performing clowns.

Just one shot of the crowd across the street from the Visitor's Center. There were at least this many people lined up on both sides of the street all along the parade route.

Another view of the crowd from my perspective - hanging out the second story window of the Visitor's Center.

An Irish dancer.

Two members of the Clown Band.

"Ragtime" - the Mission Point entry.

"Puttin on the Ritz" - with Leanne and Maryanke on Maryanke's two beautiful Friesians, Pearl and Regina. Friesians in tuxedos - what could be classier than that!

After the parade, Leanne and Maryanke rode back through town. A group of Asian students, who spoke little English, used sign language and lots of smiles to get the point across they wanted their pictures taken with the horses. Regina stood perfectly still while each of the young men got as close as possible to the big horse, while friends took the pictures. Have I ever mentioned that I love Friesians!

That’s the best of the shots I got of the parade – at least most of them were pretty much in focus.  Next year I’ll be watching from ground level!

I have a special blog planned for Friday morning, so tune in for a little surprise that involves a lady I met last year when I wrote the blog, “What’s It Like to be a Mackinac Island Taxi Driver?”  See you then!