Letters

Letters 08-25-14

Save America

I read your paper because it’s free and I enjoy the ads. But I struggle through the left wing tripe that fills every page, from political cartoons to the vitriolic pen of Mr. Tuttle. What a shame this beautiful area of the state has such an abundance of Socialist/democrats. Or perhaps the silent majority chooses to stay silent...

Doom, Yet a Cup Half Full

In the news we are told of the civil unrest at Ferguson, Mo; ISIS war radicals in Iraq and Syria; the great corporate tax heist at home. You name it. Trouble, trouble, everywhere. It seems to me the U.S. Congress is partially to blame...

Uncomfortable Questions

defending the positions of the Israelis vs Hamas are far too narrow. Even Mr. Tuttle seems to have failed in looking deeply into the divide. American media is not biased against Israel, nor or are they pro Palestine or Hamas...

The Evolution of Man Revisited

As the expectations of manhood evolve, so too do the rules of love. In Mr. Holmes’s statement [from “Our Therapist Will See Us Now” in last week’s issue] he narrows the key to a successful relationship to the basic need to have your wants and needs understood, and it is on this point I expand...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Horse Heaven
. . . .

Horse Heaven

Kelsey Lauer - July 13th, 2009
Horse Heaven
Four-week equestrian festival
brings thousands to Traverse City

By Kelsey Lauer 7/13/09

Imagine having $250,000 in your pocket. Can you picture yourself spending
it on a horse?
That’s the average price for an equine at the four-week Horse Shows by the
Bay Equestrian Festival, where some horses have recently sold for as much
as $1 million. The horse show will be held for its sixth year at the
80-acre Flintfields Horse Park off Bates Road in Williamsburg, July 8-Aug.
2.
More than 3,000 riders are coming from all over the U.S. to compete for
$395,000 in prizes in three different disciplines: hunters, jumpers and
dressage. And with a polo match and special events for spectators, there’s
plenty to do and see -- regardless of whether or not you are familiar with
horses.
Following are some of the events at Horse Shows by the Bay:

HUNTERS VS. JUMPERS
What’s the difference between a High Junior/Amateur Show Jumping Prix and
the Show Hunter Derby? You’ll see both terms — hunter and jumper — used to
describe events listed on the festival schedule.
Both disciplines involve a horse-and-rider sailing over a jump of an
intimidating height, that’s where the resemblance ends. So what’s the
difference?
A hunter competes over jumps from two-feet, six inches to four feet in
height and is judged on style, motion and way of going. Because the hunter
discipline originated from foxhunting, the horse should effect a safe and
comfortable ride.
Consistency counts for hunters; ideally, the horse should jump every time
in a manner identical to the prior jump.
For jumpers — also known as show jumping — speed is what counts, rather
than style. The object of the game is to jump over a series of jumps in an
allotted amount of time without knocking down any jumps.
A show jumping class consists of two different rounds. The primary focus
of the first round is to clear all of the jumps within 90 seconds. Only
competitors who have gone clear in the first round may compete in the
second round, which lasts 45 seconds. Jump heights are commonly raised,
and some jumps are usually eliminated.
The jump height varies depending on the difficulty of the class. At Horse
Shows by the Bay, jump heights range from three feet to four feet, nine
inches.
The hunter-jumper series runs July 8-26 and includes classes such as the
weekly $30,000 Grand Prix, four $5,000 hunter classics and a $15,000 UHJA
International Hunter Derby Classic.

DRESSAGE
Meaning “to train” in French, dressage is one of the most artistic equine
disciplines. Sometimes referred to as “horse ballet,” precision is the
key.
Horse and rider perform a series of predetermined movements -- known as a
dressage test -- in perfect unison. Ideally, the signals that the rider
gives to the horse will remain absolutely invisible.
The difficulty of movements varies depending upon the level of the
dressage test. Examples of upper level movements include tempi flying
changes, which resemble skipping, and piaffe, during which the horse
marches in place.
Dressage by the Bay runs July 29-Aug. 1. New this year will be a musical
freestyle dressage competition on Saturday, Aug. 1 at 5 p.m., which
differs from normal dressage in that it is performed to music and that
riders may decide which movements they want to use in their performance.
Music -- chosen by the rider -- is selected to fit with the horse’s
movement and rider’s preference and ranges from classical to rock.

POLO
Back on the schedule for its second year is the Polo by the Bay
Tournament, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 2 at 2 p.m.
Co-ed polo teams sponsored by Team Elmer’s and Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel
will face off against each other. Each team consists of specially-trained
horses and riders from the Grand Rapids area.
Also returning is the Hat Contest, which judges the creativity and flair
of spectators’ hats. The owners of the four most creative hats will split
$400 in cash prizes.
One of the oldest team sports, polo is similar to field hockey, but takes
place on horseback and uses long-handled mallets and a wooden ball in
place of a hockey stick and puck.
More than 3,000 attended last year’s match, the first of its kind to be
held in Northern Michigan.

DOGGY COSTUME PARADE
If you tire of the horses, enjoy some laughs at the Doggy Costume Parade &
Contest on July 18 at 2 p.m. Five categories include Best Couple (owner
and dog), Best Celebrity look-a-like, Best Group (three or more dogs),
Best Dressed (rescue only) and Most Original.
Proceeds from the event benefit the AC Paw Animal Rescue. The contest is
sponsored by Northern Michigan Veterinary Hospital in Acme; the prizes
were donated by D.O.G. Bakery and Posh Pet Boutique, both located in
Traverse City.


Mystery of the Horse ...why we fall in love

By Kelsey Lauer

Do you know that little girl who asks, “Can we keep a horse in our
suburban backyard, Mommy?” I was one of them.
But most girls grow out of their desire for a 1,000-pound horse. I didn’t.
I started taking horseback riding lessons when I was eight years old, 12
years ago. I’m still as addicted to horses as I was the day that I started
riding.
To this day, I’m not sure what exactly it is that still draws me to them.
Maybe it’s the sheer beauty when a 1,000-pound animal allows you to get on
its back and move with it in perfect unity. Maybe it’s the spirit a horse
exhibits when she runs and kicks and bucks in the wind that precedes a
coming thunderstorm. And maybe it’s merely the tickle of whiskers when
they siphon the umpteenth carrot out of your hand and come back for more.
(A horse does, after all, tend to eat like a horse).
My own first horse, Perky, is no exception when it comes to inhaling
carrots, as well as peppermints, sandwiches, grapes, Skittles and just
about anything else you offer her. As you might expect from her name,
Perky, who is an 18-year-old Arabian mare (female), is one of the resident
personalities at the stable where I keep her.

BEAUTIFUL BRAT
In horse years, her age is approaching the upper end of middle age, but
someone seems to have neglected to tell her that. Her latest nickname is
“beautiful brat,” given by the vet when Perky refused to allow her to
check her teeth. It’s my favorite nickname that she’s acquired in her time
with me, although “Marezilla” isn’t far behind.
When we first met in March 2006 during my junior year of high school,
things didn’t go so smoothly. Perky was a world away from the saintly old
mare I had leased for the past four years (that same mare is now used to
give lessons to six-year-olds). That mare would put up with anything;
Perky wouldn’t.
Perky knew perfectly well that she was the one in charge, and because I
didn’t understand the way to signal to her, I was just along for the ride.
Her favorite trick was to “forget” how to stop. I would ask her to come to
a halt; she would merrily keep on moving, completely ignoring me.
Riding away from the barn was just about impossible, and the first horse
show we tried to participate in was an unmitigated disaster (think moving
too quickly on slippery mud, while lacking brakes). I stayed on the horse,
but it was made obvious that we needed a change.

AN UPWARD TURN
From there, however, our partnership took an upward turn. A few stepped-on
toes, slobber-covered fingers and months later, we were placing at the
regional meet for my last year on my high school equestrian team and were
well on our way to mastering the difficult skill of stopping.
What I have with her today is a stronger partnership than I’ve had with
any other horse I’ve ridden. She follows me around like a dog, comes when
she’s called and neighs to say hello (the canine resemblance is becoming
rather eerie). When we ride, I would swear that she reacts to my very
thought, and we can ride just about anywhere together.
She still has a few of her old quirks, like drinking water out of the hose
when getting a bath and flirting with the resident stallion. The fitness
water, Propel, has been added to her list of favored human foods, too, and
she goes nuts trying to get to a bottle.
But that’s what makes her Perky, and I think, like it or not, she’s here
to stay for a while.
I still don’t know what it was that attracted me to horses in the first
place, or what it is that keeps me going back to them day after day.
Perhaps it’s the majesty and innate sense of awe that a beautiful horse
inspires, or the sense of accomplishment when a 1,000-pound animal obeys
your every thought.
Maybe it’s simply laughing when you’re trying to pull your ponytail out of
a curious horse’s mouth. It can be all of the above, or none of the above,
depending on the day. It’s something different for everyone, but what
attracts us is all the same: that beautiful being known as a horse.

Kelsey Lauer is the Express summer intern.




 
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