2018-07-07 / News

Mackinac Horsemen’s Association Celebrates 20 Years With Cookout

By Marley Tucker


This 1905 Beaumont Emergency Hospital Ambulance is the newest addition to the Mackinac Horsemen’s Association equine history museum. This 1905 Beaumont Emergency Hospital Ambulance is the newest addition to the Mackinac Horsemen’s Association equine history museum. Burgers were sizzling on the grill as 150 people joined a June 28 outdoor cookout and fundraiser celebrating 20 years of service to the community by the Mackinac Horsemen’s Association. The party was held at the Mackinac Community Equestrian Center and the milestone year caused attendance to double from last year’s cookout. The food was free to members, who are recognized on the association website and for whom annual dues start at $25.

“The response that we’ve gotten this year is phenomenal,” said Ann Levy, the association secretary. “So many people walked through the door to come and celebrate with us and I am so grateful to the community for their response. We’ve been able to expand through their help.”

Guests could enjoy taco bar in addition to hot dogs, burgers, and desserts. Tim Plutchak helped cook on the grill, Doud’s Market, Island House Hotel, and Pete Pellerito and Lisa Brock donated the food, and Murdick’s Fudge donated dessert. Karen O’Dell created centerpieces fashioned into equine décor for tables.


Makayla Rickley holds Lacey steady as Dr. Jeff LaHuis feels along Lacey’s jaw for any irregularities during his demonstration for the Mackinac 4-H Horse Club about horse health and spine alignment. Makayla Rickley holds Lacey steady as Dr. Jeff LaHuis feels along Lacey’s jaw for any irregularities during his demonstration for the Mackinac 4-H Horse Club about horse health and spine alignment. The cookout included a raffle and silent auction which raised money for the general fund. Tribute Equine Nutrition and community members donated the auction items. Tribute Equine Nutrition, an Upper Sandusky, Ohio, equine feed company, partners with Mackinac Horsemen’s Association to provide quality nutrition and care for horses.

“I’m very happy with the event this year and it has exceeded expectations,” said Sherri Plutchak, the event planner and board member. “We have a supportive community to back us and a lot of new members to welcome.”


Maura and Dylan Plutchak play an outdoor corn toss alongside their grandfather, Tim Plutchak, of Stephenson. Maura and Dylan Plutchak play an outdoor corn toss alongside their grandfather, Tim Plutchak, of Stephenson. Dr. Jeff LaHuis, proprietor of Sault Animal Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, demonstrated to members of the Mackinac 4-H Horse Club the areas of horses’ bodies that can exhibit strain and how to loosen their muscles. A 1995 Michigan State University graduate with a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and a B.S. in Animal Science, Dr. LaHuis is a “spinal manipulator” for horses.

“You need to start with the front of the horse because that side doesn’t kick,” Dr. LaHuis joked. “Neck and pelvis issues are found in a lot of horses, but we aren’t sure why. You can see by the amount of stretch in the limb that they don’t have a full range of motion when they’re strained. The goal is to get the joints to move properly.”

Dr. LaHuis examined Lacey, a horse housed in the Equestrian Center, and concluded she was in good health except for a slight soreness in her front left leg.

Following tradition, president Steve Rilenge gathered a crowd in front of a closed-off area where a secret object was under wraps. He rec- ognized the Mackinac Island State Park Commission and Director Phil Porter for helping the association lease state park land for the Equestrian Center and paid tribute to Mackinac 4-H Horse Club founder Leanne Brodeur for her work in the establishment of the association.

The Equestrian Center is now also a museum of horse-related history, including antique carriages, and its newest horse-drawn vehicle to go on display is a 1905 Beaumont Emergency Hospital Ambulance, on loan from Mackinac State Historic Parks, which Mr. Rilenge unveiled with great fanfare,

“Fourteen years ago,” he said moments before the unveiling, “I went up inside a barn and saw a lot of carriages hidden away for about 50 years. They sat undisturbed. I hope that this is the first of many that can come out of storage and that people from Michigan and on Mackinac Island can see. I think that there’s some really neat stuff up there that we’d all like to have a chance to look at.”

The ambulance will be shown next to a pony parasol top surrey, Meadowbrook cart, and C.P. Kimball & Co. carriage.

Of the ambulance, Mr. Rilenge said, “We’re not sure the history of it, but we believe that it is a Studebaker chassis that helped transport patients on the Island. Since we are a horse history museum, we hope to fill the rest of the museum with more mementos and memories. Now that the centerpiece is in place, the rest of the museum can build.”

Gains achieved this year through the efforts of the members are a rise in the number of short-term boarding nights, from 80 last year to 105 so far this year, and the number of class hours held at the facility, from 34 hours through June last year to 58 hours through June 28 this year.

Barn Manager Ashley Day announced the organization will host “Best of America by Horseback” for a filmed ride across the Island and a weekend celebration of Island riding September 28 through September 30. Guest spots for the event, filling quickly, are available to Island residents. More information can be found on the association’s Web site.

Donations can be made to Mackinac Horsemen’s Association for wish-list items that require additional funding, such as an arena watering system, valued at $4,000, and a storage shed for equipment, valued at $8,000.

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