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ADIRONDACK LIVING: Horse show is vacation time for Lake Placid resident

July 5, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - When it comes to summer vacation, people tend to imagine sitting on a beach with bright blue waves or chasing snowy weather to a European ski resort. Village resident Mike Miller, on the other hand, takes two weeks out of his summer to direct traffic and parking at the annual Lake Placid Horse Shows. He's done this for the past 30 years.

"I've always loved horses," he said, "so for me, this is the best two weeks of the summer. My wife used to ask, 'When are we going to take a vacation?' and I'd say I already did. Working at the horse show is my vacation, but I never really considered it work. It's always been enjoyable for me."

From an early age, Miller was interested in horses. He used to attend country fairs and hang out by the show grounds among the equines.

Article Photos

Mike Miller poses at the North Elba Show Grounds during the Lake Placid Horse Show Wednesday, June 27. For the past 30 years, he’s dedicated two weeks of vacation time to directing traffic and parking during the event.
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

"I was stupid enough to buy one when I was young," Miller said.

Unfortunately for Miller, the horse was only halter broken, meaning that it wasn't trained to carry a rider yet. He had his aunt, who lived on a farm outside Buffalo, tame the horse, but shortly after, Miller's father made him sell the animal.

Miller eventually got his daughters into riding.

"That was my excuse to get into horses [again]," he said. "Just another way to indulge myself."

Miller is no stranger to jumping himself, although it wasn't with horses. It's with ice skates. In his younger years, Miller competed for US Speedskating. Sometimes he and his teammates would drag a few barrels onto the ice and see how many they could jump over - longways, that is.

"We might have been able to get over two or three," he said. "Once you add that fourth one, it gets pretty tough."

About 100 yards away from Miller at the show grounds was the ring, where horses and riders follow extremely intricate rules as they jump over fences of varying heights. There are two variations - hunter and jumper. Miller knows the difference and can explain them in detail, but he knows it takes time.

"They're very similar, but also different," he said.

To keep it simple, Miller explained that the hunter class judges the horse - is it keeping its head down, did it lead with the appropriate foot, did it touch any of the jump bars even a little - while the jumper class judges the rider - was the rider able to get the horse over a jump.

While new generations of horses and riders attend the show each year, Miller said he tends to see a lot of returning competitors, which makes it kind of like a reunion.

"You've got some people who have been coming here forever," he said. "You always cheerlead a little harder for them."

He listed off some of the veterans - Laura Chapot, Margie Engle, the Leone brothers.

"For one of them to win a Grand Prix," he said, "it's always a little more enriching to me."



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