Throw Back Tuesday – By Our Side Down Life’s Road 2/21/17

Personal Note:  This is one of those magical Mackinac stories that just appeared out of thin air during the 2011 Festival of the Horse.

Header:  Betty Elmhirst on Drummond


First published July 27, 2011

Betty Elmhirst, from Drummond Island in the U.P. of Michigan, decided to come to Mackinac Island this past Saturday to attend the Festival of the Horse Breed Show.  A horse lover all her life, Betty has owned and trained her own horses for many years and was looking forward to an afternoon of sitting in the sun and watching some great looking horses strut their stuff.

The day was also a celebration for Betty.  After a battle with cancer, she had returned for more testing last week.  A few days later she received word she could now celebrate her one-year anniversary of being cancer-free.  She was pumped and ready for a worry-free, happy day of watching horses.  She got so much more than that.

Betty arrived on the island, made her way up Cadotte to the Burroughs Lot, paid her entrance fee, and settled into a good viewing spot to watch the show.  About half-way through, a beautiful black Tennessee Walker, ridden by owner Penny Barr, entered the ring.  The announcer began to talk about the horse, named Drummond because Drummond Island was the horse’s home when Penny bought him.

Betty’s heart began to pound as she watched the horse walk around the arena in the smooth gait for which Tennessee Walkers are known.

Penny Barr, riding her horse Drummond in the Breed Show.

A thousand thoughts went careening through Betty’s mind.  She once owned a black Tennessee Walker named Domino’s Dazzie.  She had trained him herself, then sold him to a teacher on Drummond Island.  Black Tennessee Walkers are not common, and Betty remembered Dazzie as easily trainable, with a wonderful disposition.   At some point she heard Dazzie had been sold again.  Years passed, and she often wondered what had happened to the special horse.  As any animal lover would, Betty often thought of Dazzie and hoped he was healthy and in a good home.

The more Betty watched Drummond in the ring, the more her interest perked.  When he turned and came toward the area where she was sitting, she saw the star on his forehead, then looked down and saw he had one white sock.  She remembers screaming, “That’s my horse!”

I was standing at one of the corners of the arena fence, snapping photos when I heard Betty’s words.  I turned to find Janice Groat – wife of Jim, whose company built the new community stable – listening as Betty (as yet unintroduced to me) talked about the Tennessee Walker in the ring.  Jim and Janice own Mystic Meadows Farm, a certified riding academy and home to champion Tennesee Walker Horses.  Janice’s eyes were sparkling as she listened to Betty’s story, and of course, sensing a story, I introduced myself to Betty and started listening.

By this time Penny and Drummond had finished in the arena, and Penny, not knowing about the drama playing out nearby, had walked away to chat with someone, leaving Drummond with a handler.  We all walked over to Drummond and watched as Betty was reunited with her horse.  It was evident right away that Drummond aka Dazzie recognized Betty.  His ears perked forward at the sound of her voice, and within moments Betty was in the saddle, guiding Drummond through the moves she had taught him.

Horse and rider – smoothly transitioning into one fluid being. A two legged creature moving a four-legged creature through his paces with a touch of hand or knee or foot.   No need for stirrups – Betty’s grip on Drummond’s back is strong and intuitive.

Back on the ground, Betty whispers sweet words to her former horse.

Betty told us nothing could make her happier than knowing Drummond is a much-loved horse of a Mackinac Island summer resident.

Eventually, someone found Penny, and she came over to see what the fuss was all about.  She was so excited to meet Betty and learn some of Drummond’s background.  She invited Betty to the island to ride Drummond anytime she wanted.

Betty, Drummond, and Penny Barr, his present owner.

Betty said she never would have thought anything could make her happier than she already was on Saturday.  But seeing Drummond again sure put the icing on the cake!

When we think of those companions who traveled by our side down life’s road, let

us not say with sadness that they left us behind, but rather say with gentle

gratitude that they once were with us.

Author Unknown

Wrapping it Up 7/28/2011

Whew!  Talk about a horse week!  I just have a few random photos to put up tonight, and that will end the Festival of the Horse news for another year.  What is sad is that there were many other events and clinics I didn’t even touch on.  Thanks so much to the Mackinac Island Horsesmen’s Association for all the hard – and I do mean HARD – work.  Can’t wait to see what next year brings and what surprises you will have up your sleeves for 2012!

To my readers – I hope you’ve gotten a little of the flavor of this great festival – enough so that next summer you’ll be packing up and arriving on the island to see it all in person!

Sit, Saber, sit. Just kidding. Clay Maier got Saber to lie all the way down, and he was coming back up to stand. Looks like he's "sitting" though, doesn't it!

Face to face with Toby, the Belgian.

Working the admissions table at the Grand for two of the clinics (Jill pic).

A saddle and helmet - waiting for a rider (Jill pic)

The incredible Saber again, tethered to Clay Maier (Marta Olson pic).

Pony rides were available each day at the festival. I worked an hour or two one afternoon helping fit helmets . . . (Jill pic)

. . . the children loved riding the ponies!

Some water for a hard-working pony.

Michelle Stuck and Maryanke Alexander await their time to perform (Jill pic).

The only time I saw Leanne sitting down the entire festival.

Molly and Frankie at the admissions table to the Horses, Hoofbeats & Hors d'oeuvres event at the Gate House Restaurant.

One last photo of Saber soaring over a jump (Marta Olson pic).

Tomorrow, we get away from horses – well, as far away from horses as you can get on Mackinac Island.  Ted went on an excellent adventure this morning – and survived!  You’ll hear all about it tomorrow!  See you then!

Festival of the Horse Carriage Parade 7/25/2011

The third annual Festival of the Horse is officially over, and it just keeps getting better and better.  Each year more events are added, more equestrian clinicians present workshops, and more people show up who are either equestrians themselves – or who simply love the power, majesty and beauty of this four-legged creature.

I’ve always loved horses, but have never been in an environment where I could be around them all the time – until our move to Mackinac Island.  Now I see more horses everyday than I do dogs, and instead of waning, my fascination with them increases daily.

This week is all about the horse – every size, every shape, every color.  Riding horses, driving horses, pet horses.  There’s something for every kind of horse lover, and I hope you enjoy these writings as much as I enjoyed covering the events.

Today is about the carriages that horses pull.  Unfortunately, my knowledge of carriages is almost nonexistent, so the photos are going to pretty much have to speak for themselves.  Each one is lovely, and the horses pulling them are no less than splendid.  Where carriage information was available, I’ve included it, and I’ll name the driver and horse(s) if I know them.  Otherwise, the caption will be blank.  Thanks to The Mackinac Island Town Crier for quoted information.

A thousand thanks to Mary Stancik from the Grand Hotel for these beautiful shots.  Enjoy!

Grand Marshal of the parade was "Gracie Irish, riding in the Grand Hotel's 1904 vis-a-vis". Ben Mosley is driving a team of matched Hackneys. Look at those legs - all four in perfect sync!

David Levy, in a "superlight wagonette", is being pulled by the Levy family Friesian, Lars.

Michelle and Randy Stuck and their family. Pulling their carriage is Todd Z, one of their four Friesians. This is one of three photos in this group that is mine. My camera was still having issues at this point.

Ann Levy, driving her Paint, Image. "Ann's carriage is a 1910 Meadowbrook."

Don Eckhardt, "who with wife Lisa was in charge of the parade", is driving two Friesians. Another of my photos.

Seymour, a Jack burro, pulls a cart driven by owner/trainer Cady Ness-Smith. I LOVED this little guy. Seymour was adopted in 1999 as part of the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program. He travels the United States as the program's advocate. He is trained in carriage driving (pleasure, distance & other) single and pair, English pleasure and parades, and has won a gazillion national awards. My favorite thing about him though is that he is a Delta Certified Therapy Animal - just like BEAR!

A carriage from Jack's Livery Stable, pulled by everyone's favorite Belgian, Bud.

Lisa Brock, driving her Friesian/Paint cross, Ringo.

I believe this is one of the private livery's wedding carriages.

Another awesome pair of Hackneys!

The 2011 Lilac Queen and Princess were riding in this buggy. Again, these look like Grand Hackneys, but I'm not sure.

Taz and Skip, two Standardbreds, owned and driven by island veterinarian, Dr. Al Sibinic.

A Grand Hotel omnibus, being pulled by two of the Grand Percherons.

This photo is mine also and shows Miwok, a mustang adopted through the BLM program. She is also a national award winner and has worked as a Therapeutic Riding/Driving Horse. Miwok has the distinction of being the only mustang to be quiet enough to handle the added distraction of a portable ventilator and oxygen tank set up for a disabled trail rider. Pretty awesome!

The parade this year was probably twice as long as last year’s, with around 20 entries (apologies to those we missed photographing) – and the drivers and riders were all in period clothing.  It was totally awesome to watch – talk about taking you back in time!  Even better is that most of the folks above are island summer residents, and they hitch up their horses to their carriages and go out for pleasure rides quite often.  If you’re visiting, you might just see them on the roads through the woods or near the fort or on the bluffs.  It’s always a special “added attraction” to an island visit.

Tomorrow – the Breed Show!

Previews! 7/24/2011

Oh my gosh – I am so excited about this next week of blog posts I can hardly wait to get started.  With the help of friends, I was able to capture “almost” every event of the Festival of the Horse, and miraculously my camera started working like a champ again on Saturday afternoon for the Breed Show.  Below is a little preview of what’s to come in the next few days.  I sure hope everyone loves horses!


Thanks to Mary Stancik from the Grand, you'll get to see the spectacular Carriage Parade through the streets of Mackinac Island.


The Breed Show held Saturday afternoon. You'll see over 20 breeds - from the largest, like this magnificent Percheron . . .

. . . to the smallest, like this precious miniature, appropriately named "Shortcake" . . .

. . . and everything in between - like this beautiful hackney from the Grand Hotel.


The heart-warming story of a "found" horse that played out at the Breed Show Saturday afternoon. You won't want to miss this one.

That will finish up the Festival of the Horse except for a few random photos that I’ll post on Thursday (you can expect several Friesians to be featured in that one).  Come Friday, we’ll be back on our “normal” schedule with something totally different than horses AND this week’s Mystery Spot – guaranteed to be the toughest one yet!

See you Monday morning!

Clay and Saber 7/23/2011

I gave my camera two aspirin and some chicken soup last night and hoped for the best.   When I walked down the hill to get the mail on Friday, I stopped in on the second day of the Festival of the Horse and snapped a few shots of Clay Meier and his amazing horse, Saber.  The photos came out pretty good, but I can still tell something’s not quite right.  With this horse, though, it would be really difficult to make him look anything but awesome.

Saber is a 14-year-old Friesian that Clay Meier has been training three years.


He responds to Clay’s softly spoken commands instantly.


He will rear up at Clay’s special signal . . .


. . . rising higher and higher as Clay says, “Up, up, up!”  Clay and Saber, and another of his Friesians, Paris, will be performing again on Saturday, the last day of this year’s Festival of the Horse.

A Nice Perk! 7/20/2011

Note:  I was unable to attend, but I’ve heard that the Mass at St. Anne’s for the two sailors who lost their lives this weekend to the storm in the Chicago to Mackinac Race was stunningly beautiful and  inspirational.  St. Anne’s was filled with families and friends who were on the island for the races, as well as island residents and visitors.  It was a wonderful tribute to Mark Morley and Suzanne Bickel.


Before I officially start the “perk” story, I just want to remind everyone the Mackinac Island Festival of the Horse begins Wednesday evening, July 20, and runs through Sunday morning, July 24.  The festival has been named one of the top five horse festivals in the world by Equitrekking and is one of only two in the United States to make the list.

The days are packed – and I do mean PACKED – full of exciting equestrian events.  If you are planning to be on the island during this time, please head up the hill toward the Grand Hotel to the Burroughs Lot (just below the Grand), where you’ll see the riding arena and tents set up near the island school.  Just for starters, there will be a Saddle Horse Parade, Pony Rides and Fun & Games for Children, a Carriage Parade, West Bluff Historic Stables Tours, the Breeds of Mackinac Show, and Musical Kurs by our very own Mackinac Island Friesian Force.  There will also be lectures on equestrian topics by nationally-known horse trainers and island experts, For a complete list of the festival events, please click here:


Too bad I can’t run for Governor in Michigan.  Being a Georgia resident, I don’t qualify (I also don’t qualify because I know nothing about Michigan politics – or politics in general for that matter – but that’s a whole different story).

If anything could make me consider becoming politically-minded, it would be the Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence, which just has to be the absolute best “perk” of any job anywhere – my opinion, of course.

Cathy had never toured the residence, which is open from 9:30-11:30 a.m. each Wesnesday morning during the season.  Admission is free, and we were among the first in line.

Cathy and I left the condo, biked over to the residence and parked across the street.

As you know from a post I did last year, photographs aren't allowed inside the residence. Last year, when I visited with Blake, the weather was cloudy. Wednesday couldn't have been more beautiful, and I just wanted to show you the glorious views from the front porch of this beautiful home. Here, we're looking southwest over the Straits, and you can just make out the steeple of Little Stone Church.

Southeast is the harbor, the breakwater, and both Round Island lighthouses.

Scouts are stationed all along the porch (and outside on the street) and are always willing to snap photos of your group. They must earn badges in camera operation because I've never heard them ask how to work anyone's camera.

I wonder how many U.S. presidents have had their photograph taken on this porch? It's quite a popular spot for Presidents to visit - on invitation from the Governor, of course. The white structure in the distance is the Grand Hotel.

My favorite spot on the porch - this beautifully furnished, covered area with white wicker furniture. Loving that swing!

Oh yes! I'd love to be Governor of Michigan! And if I was, every Wednesday morning during the Mackinac Island season - if I happened to be visiting - I would come downstairs and greet each visitor to my home - just like new Michigan Governor Rick Snyder did two weeks ago when he was on the island!


We were eating out at the Gate House with Cathy and Charlie for lunch last Friday when a young man passed our table and then, doing a double-take, asked if I was “Bree”.  He and his whole family – including his mom, siblings, and their families – were visiting the island and eating out on the Gate House patio.  I had the opportunity to meet this delightful group, who come to Mackinac Island as often as possible.

Mike and Kathy Fillmore and their beautiful daughters, Danielle and Devin. They were visiting from Saline, MI.

I worked this morning at the Stuart House, and several Bree Blog fans stopped by.  Charlotte DeBroka and her husband Jim came in, and I apologize profusely, Charlotte, for not getting a photograph.  My brain had obviously not started functioning this morning while ya’ll were visiting.  I did post this wonderful couple’s photo last year when they visited, so maybe Charlotte will forgive me.  They were staying at Small Point Inn, just below Robinson’s Folly, and Charlotte shared that there were some trees down across the road out there after the big storm on Sunday evening.  Before arriving on the island, they visited the U.P. and had their copy of South of Superior signed by author Ellen Airgood, who works in a diner in Grand Marais.  It’s on everyone’s “got to read it” list up here this summer and is getting rave reviews!

Also stopping by (after my brain “clicked” on):

Georgette and Larry Ryan, who read the blog from Chicago (Larry took the photo).

This is part of my sweet friend Alyssa's family. Alyssa drove for Carriage Tours when I first met her and now works at Doud's Market. Since she didn't make it home in December, her whole family showed up to have Christmas in July. This is only four of them - Mom and Dad, Lori and Bill Henes, from Lambertville, MI and Alice and Fred, Alyssa's grandmother and granddaddy.

I loved, loved, loved seeing all of you!

More tomorrow on Cathy and Charlie’s visit.  See you then.