Festival of the Horse
The Mackinac Island Festival of the Horse would not be possible without our many volunteers and caretakers of our "kings," the horses! Take a look below to learn more about some of our very valuable volunteers.
If you are a volunteer and have not submitted your bio and photo, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to volunteer? We always need help! Contact Ann Levy at email@example.com
Maryanke Alexander, living in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan with her husband Paul, 3 dogs, 4 cats and 6 horses, has 5 children. We have been summer residents of Mackinac Island for the past 6 years.
Professional background includes: B.A. from Michigan State University, Masters Degree from C.M.U., Certified Tour Professional, Member in Good Standing with the National Tour Association. I am the owner of Maryanke Tour & Travel which began its operation in 1978.
Horse Related: I have been involved with horses all my life; however, it wasn’t until 1992 that I purchased my first horse for my daughter, who was 9 years old at the time. I have been actively involved with 4-H of Isabella County during my daughter’s commitment and dedication to her horse and 4-H for 10 years. My herd increased to 11 horses. I have been involved in breeding quality Friesians for a few years, my web site is www.friesiansonmackinac.com. I have been riding consistently for the last 15 years and am a member in good standing with the United States Equestrian Federation, the United States Dressage Federation, the International Friesian Show Horse Association, the Friesian Horse Association of North America, and am currently the President of the Mackinac Horsemen’s Association.
Michelle Stuck will be riding Gysbert. Michelle bought her Mackinac cottage on the fall of 1999. She has loved horses her whole life and was finally able to obtain her dream when moving to Mackinac Island as a summer resident. She and her husband, Randy, were able to obtain property behind their cottage to build a barn. They now have 4 beautiful Friesian geldings.
Gysbert was born in the Netherlands and was imported as a yearling. Michelle bought him when he was 5 years old. He will be 8 years old this summer. His temperament is wonderful. Gysbert is a very versatile horse, being able to ride or drive him. He loves attention and shows a lot of affection.
Having had owned a horse in my early years and with my experiance as a building contractor and owning a home on Mackinac, became facinated with the "Mackinac Island Horse Culture". Wanting to help keep the equestrian heritage alive, I volunteered to help with the construction of a new Community Stable. We have taken the idea of a new stable and have expanded that idea into helping the economy and tourisim in the entire Straits area.
Betsy Van Dyke
Betsy Van Dyke began riding by the age of four and became involved with 4-H and showing at the age of seven. After moving to the Traverse City, Michigan area, she was exposed to upper level dressage at a dressage demonstration and was instantly transfixed. She decided to pursue dressage on whatever horse she had the opportunity to ride.
JACK and his wife Terrie have had their home on the Island for 11 years. Jack and Terrie have three children, Collin and Hailey attending the Mackinac Island Public School and Jordan at Michigan State University Jack has been involved with the MHA for three years and acting as the treasure for two years.
The Armstrong’s have an Appaloosa mare named Moonshine that the family enjoys at their home.
As a lifetime lover of horses, it is a dream come true to have my Quarter Horse mare, Rosie and Friesian Sport horse gelding, Ringo in my life. Rosie is a great little carriage horse and Mackinac Island is the perfect place to enjoy learning these new skills. Ringo will have his first summer on Mackinac Island and I look forward to all the joy and challenges that will bring. Although I have loved horses all my life it was only 4 years ago that I had the time to pursue my dreams.
At this more "mature" point in my life I had a lot of catching up to do! If not for the support and knowledge of other riders and friends on the Island, I do not think my these dreams would have been possible. I am glad to be part of the Mackinac Horsemen's Association and am dedicated in my goal to support "all things Horses" and the dreams that go with that on beautiful Mackinac Island!
Ben Mosley is the Head Coachman for the Historic Grand Hotel and year round resident of Mackinac Island. Mosely traces his own roots to a Saddlebred training barn in Indiana, but he is well versed in numerous breeds, especially the Grand Hotel's revered Hackneys. Ben is also an expert on vintage coaches.
Don & Lisa Eckhardt
Don has been involved in the driving world for the last 20 years. He has been competing in Combined Driving, in the Northwest since it's beginning here, 19 years ago. Don and navigator Lisa, along with his one of a kind horse Gem, won many Combined Driving events in the US as well as in Canada, through the upper levels, until her retirement in 1998. After many successful seasons in Combined Driving as well as pleasure shows, Don decided to go ahead and train professionally, after the many requests to do so. He has been professionally training for over 12 years.
Lisa, with 28 years horse experience, is a valuable asset to the Training Center. Her ridden dressage experience, as applied to the driving horses, is one of the primary reasons the horses go on the bit, bend, and go round. With 16 years as Don's partner and navigator is the driving competitions she knows her way around a horse and carriage, but the time spent on the horses back in a training situation is what makes her shine. Contact Lisa at 906-847-4061.
For more information, please visit their Driving Training Center website.
The long line of horses of different breeds and several with very little, if any, training that followed taught her more than most instructors would! She later was fortunate enough to lease a few well-trained dressage horses. Those horses gave her an in-depth perspective on being a well-rounded rider. After participating in many clinics with Catherine Haddad, on several different horses, Betsy and her parents purchased the Dutch Warmblood, Al Manjano, from Germany. With the purchase of Al Manjano, the real plan for Betsy's career started to emerge.
Betsy and Al Manjano competed very successfully from Third Level to Prix St. George, and also in the Young Rider Qualifying Competitions. The pair were Regional Reserve Champions at Fourth Level and Prix St. George, and competed in Wellington, Florida against some of the best competition in the United States. In the winter of 2004, after Betsy officially began teaching and training regularly, she then sold Al Manjano, and went over to Europe with her trainer, Karen Lipp and purchased Cantana. Cantana was seven years old, but had just been started under saddle. Cantana is a Danish Warmblood by Comeback II. His half brothers Calecto V and Come On III have both been long listed on the USET and both competed at the World Cup Championships and World Equestrian Games. Calecto V was at the 2012 Olympics on the 5th placing USA team.
Betsy has trained the horse she calls "Tanner" herself, up through the levels, competing in both Wellington and the Midwest, to where the pair is now showing at the Grand Prix Level. She also is continually training and showing many other horses from Training Level through FEI.
Betsy competes regularly, as well as coaching her students at shows during the season. Betsy has won many awards and Championships, including Regionals, throughout the levels on various horses. Betsy Van Dyke has earned her USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals. She, in fact, earned her Gold Medal on Cantana, a horse she has trained up through the levels herself! To continue her education, Betsy has ridden with many top riders and Olympians including, among others: Maryal Barnett, Lars Peterson, George Williams, Susan Dutta, Christine Traurig, Michelle Gibson, Herbert Seinberl, and Marius Schreiner, as well as Catherine Haddad and Karen Lipp.
Betsy Van Dyke caters to the needs of riders who are looking to hone their skills in the area of dressage. Betsy's lessons are designed to instruct the rider and horse towards better harmony and communication. From developing a good seat to perfecting a pirouette, setting goals and growing in your knowledge and ability is a a lifelong journey.
Betsy is always continuing her own education, as she desires to keep growing in her own expertise to instruct you better. Betsy is willing to work with riders just starting in their journey with horses, as well as advanced FEI riders, recognizing that only a correct foundation can produce correct upper level riders and horses.
View videos of Betsy Van Dyke at practice: