Meet the equestrian community of Martha’s Vineyard

Isabelle Crawford on Woodlands Fortnight. — courtesy Jennifer Crawford

We all see the Horse Crossing signs when we drive around the Island, but where are the horses?

Come and meet them at the Martha’s Vineyard Horse Council’s Spring Open House on April 27, from 12 noon to 3 pm  at Tracey Olsen’s Woodbe Farm, 628 State Road, West Tisbury, next door to Fiddlehead Farm.

A big slice of the Vineyard’s equestrian life will be on display, with demonstrations of jumping and dressage, breed demo, team driving, saddle fitting, and horse massage. Representatives from barns large and small will be on hand to offer information about different riding disciplines, lessons, summer camps, and volunteer opportunities. There will be pony rides, a tack swap and sale, and free lunch from the grill. Anyone with spare tack for sale is encouraged to bring their own table. Kids can make the acquaintance of all kinds of friendly equines, from miniature horses to massive clydesdales.

“We did this for the first time last spring and the response was overwhelming,” said Ms. Olsen, a dressage rider fresh from a winning season in Florida. “There’s clearly a lot of passion for horses on the Island and this is a fun way to learn what’s available.”

The M.V. Horse Council is a nonprofit group that welcomes new members, riders or not, who want to see Island riders continue to enjoy affordable opportunities to interact with horses.  The organization hosts four horse shows through the summer and fall. “Vineyarders might not be aware that these small shows have produced many young equestrians who have gone on to win national honors,” said Ms. Olsen. Among them is dressage rider Clara Maynard who represented region 8 for the North American junior young rider championship last summer and now rides at Brown, where she is a freshman. Also, 13-year-old Ava Stearns, a West Tisbury middle school pupil, has won national recognition as one of the country’s most outstanding young jumpers and had an outstandingly successful season in Florida at the winter equestrian festival. “Watching Ava soaring over those big jumps was a highlight of last year’s open house,” Ms. Olsen continued. “We’re happy that she and her mom, Sarah Doyle, have agreed to demonstrate for us again this year.”

The dates for this season’s horse shows are:

June 1: Hunter show

June 15: Hunter show

June 29: Dressage

Oct 4: Fall Fuzzy hunter show and gymkhana

Oct. 18: Hunter Pace