TRAVERSE CITY – The Horse Shows By the Bay Equestrian Festival kicks off Wednesday with a brand new sponsor: jewelry designer — and horsewoman — Becky Thatcher.
Thatcher, who has stores in Glen Arbor, Leland, Traverse City and Harbor Springs, has long been known for her fine jewelry designs incorporating precious metals and local stones like Petoskey, beach stones and fossils set against rarer gemstones including boulder opal, sapphire, quartz and beryl. But fewer know her as a equestrian.
“I got my first horse when I was 16 and then had to work to take care of it, so I didn’t get to do much riding,” said Thatcher, of Glen Arbor.
After high school she attended the North Fork School of Equitation in Maryland, where she worked on the farm and did a little hunting and junior eventing. Eventually she married and moved to Virginia, where she was in the thick of horse country. And five years ago, back in northern Michigan, she bought an Icelandic pony named Uggi.
“He is 13.2 hands and we do endurance events,” said Thatcher, whose sister, Cookie, also has an Icelandic pony. “We did 230 miles of the Mongolian-Siberian border. It’s sort of a re-enactment of their Mongolian Pony Express.”
Although she doesn’t show at Horse Shows by the Bay, Thatcher decorates her Traverse City store windows in an equine theme each year as a way to welcome show participants and to show her appreciation for festival venue Flintfields Horse Park, 10 miles east of downtown Traverse City. She has also gotten to know some of the dressage riders.
“It’s wonderful to go and see the beauty of the dressage. It’s kind of art in motion,” she said. “And the hunters and jumpers are so exciting.”
This year she took another step by becoming a show sponsor. She’ll have a booth at the show July 17-21 that will display her traditional pieces and two new bracelet tops created from the two “most artistic” equine photos submitted in a “Horses In Motion” contest. The silver-carved bracelet tops showing Woodstock, a therapy horse for veterans, and In the Black 3E, a show jumper, will be offered with bracelet bases as prizes to contest winners Stacy Pearsall of Charleston, S.C. and Grace Gruverman of Bay Harbor and South Florida.