2015-08-08 / Top News

For Youth, Show Experience Teaches Teamwork

Focus on Learning and Growth Sets Annual Mackinac Island Horse Show Apart From Most
By Matt Harding


Mabel Styburski of Mackinac Island rides horse Tasia during the 45th annual Mackinac Island Horse Show at the Mackinac Community Equestrian Center Saturday, August 1, where about 25 young riders showed their skills. Mabel participated in multiple classes, along with her sister, Otillia. Mabel Styburski of Mackinac Island rides horse Tasia during the 45th annual Mackinac Island Horse Show at the Mackinac Community Equestrian Center Saturday, August 1, where about 25 young riders showed their skills. Mabel participated in multiple classes, along with her sister, Otillia. A group of about 25 equestrians showed off their skills in a variety of classes at the 45th annual Mackinac Island Horse Show at the Mackinac Community Equestrian

Center Saturday, August 1. The presentation illustrates the growth of the young riders and the Mackinac Horsemen’s Association program.

“This year, we’re seeing a lot of growth,” said Denise Webber, horse show judge. Unlike many horse shows, this one is more about education than competition.

“Riding in a show is a new experience for most of the kids,” said Lisa Eckhardt, education director. “They have to learn to work together as a team because many of them share horses. Most show experiences aren’t like that.”


At right: Opal Fomish holds up a medal she received for her equitation skills. Opal rode horse Trooper throughout the show, and was the show’s overall youth winner. At right: Opal Fomish holds up a medal she received for her equitation skills. Opal rode horse Trooper throughout the show, and was the show’s overall youth winner. Many of the show’s riders only ride on the Island, which means they only ride seasonally, Mrs. Eckhardt said. This can slow their progression. Still, there is great improvement among the regular riders, she added.

She and Mrs. Webber made sure riders knew that the show was a way to have fun and demonstrate their advancement. As a longtime professional horse show judge, Mrs. Webber said the event on Mackinac Island is much different than what she usually does.

She teaches the riders throughout the show, telling them what they can be doing to correct problems with posture or anything else they’re having trouble with. She makes sure they are obeying proper etiquette that would be necessary in a sanctioned show.


At left: Sarah Growney, astride her horse, Rue, took third place in the trail riding class, first place in the western horsemanship class, and second place in the showmanship and grooming class. At left: Sarah Growney, astride her horse, Rue, took third place in the trail riding class, first place in the western horsemanship class, and second place in the showmanship and grooming class. She judges from the positive, she said, giving the children specific, constructive criticism rather than vague comments.

And she encourages the children to continue riding horses to sharpen their equestrian skills and to pursue competitive horse shows as a way to display their honed skills.

Sarah Growney, 14, a regular at the Equestrian Center, rode her horse, Rue, in various classes. Sarah most enjoyed the trail class, which was the finale.

“There’s always a different pattern,” she said. “It keeps things interesting.”

She took third place in the trail riding class, first place in the western horsemanship class, and second place in the showmanship and grooming class.


At right: Tilly Musser and horse Miss Montana placed first in the showmanship and grooming class, second in the trail riding class, and tied for first in the Simon Says walk/trot. Tilly was the overall horse show winner in the junior division. At right: Tilly Musser and horse Miss Montana placed first in the showmanship and grooming class, second in the trail riding class, and tied for first in the Simon Says walk/trot. Tilly was the overall horse show winner in the junior division. Nora Bailey, 10, another familiar face at the Equestrian Center, said her favorite class was the English equitation class, which featured walking, trotting, and cantering. She rode on Fiona and won the class in the youth division.

“I got to be alone in the arena, and Fiona did a good job,” she said.

The Friend family, visiting equestrians from Nicholasville, Kentucky, was trail riding in St. Ignace earlier in the week. Hearing about the horse show, they decided to enter.

Anabelle Friend, 11, who rode in the junior division with her horse, Pistolita, placed first in the bareback equitation class, the trail class, and the toilet paper race, which she won with her mother, Michelle. Anabelle also won the cloverleaf and down and back speed competitions.


Anabelle Friend and horse Pistolita took first place in the junior division speed competitions, the cloverleaf and the down and back. Anabelle Friend and horse Pistolita took first place in the junior division speed competitions, the cloverleaf and the down and back. When Anabelle entered the show, Mrs. Eckhardt asked her how old she was and how long she had been riding. The answers were both 11 years.

Overall winners included Opal Fomish (youth), Tilly Musser (junior), and Sam Simmons (adult). Opal took first place in the walk/trot equitation class, western horsemanship class, and trail riding class, and tied for first in the Simon Says walk/trot. She rode Trooper.

Tilly, on Miss Montana, placed first in the showmanship and grooming class, second in the trail riding class, and tied for first in the Simon Says walk/trot.


At left: Michelle Friend and her son, Clayton, pose with their horse, Miss Lippy, following the costume class, where Clayton portrayed an 1800s soldier. At left: Michelle Friend and her son, Clayton, pose with their horse, Miss Lippy, following the costume class, where Clayton portrayed an 1800s soldier. Riding, Ripley, Ms. Simmons, the Equestrian Center’s stable manager, took first place in the showmanship and grooming class, the Hope Goodwin Memorial Hunter Hack, which was a jumping competition, the western horsemanship class, and the bareback equitation class.

She also won the “Rusty” Memorial Cup, a traditional Island class that included walking, trotting, and cantering, and other requests based on the judge’s choice.

“To be a part of this show has been really good for me,” said Mrs. Webber, the judge. “I enjoy watching the facility and the program grow.”

The horse show had more fun classes this year, as requested by show riders and parents, said Lisa Brock, MHA president. One such class was the toilet paper race, in which riders paired up and rode with about three feet of paper stretched between them, trying to make sure their horses stayed side by side so the sheets wouldn’t break. Other fun classes included the Egg and Spoon class, the Simon Says class, and the Ride a Buck class.



Tilly Musser (left) and Nora Bailey placed third in the toilet paper race competition with horses Miss Montana and Fiona. Tilly Musser (left) and Nora Bailey placed third in the toilet paper race competition with horses Miss Montana and Fiona.

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