Winners from Draw IV at Black River Falls,Wi on October 13, 2002
1st Wes Licht with his Morab Jessie – 385
2nd Jacque Deweese with his Morgan Nora – 376
DRAW IV at Black River Falls State Forest
By Jane Licht
It was the kind of fall day that we in Wisconsin enjoy – a crispness in the morning air but bright sunshine warming the countryside, the aroma of pines everywhere and the color of hardwoods still decorating the hillsides. So when Wes came home on Wednesday, October 9, he was excited about competing at DRAW IV at Black River Falls State Forest the following weekend. He had traveled north with MDDA President Theresa Burns to help mark trails for the first driving event at the park. Keith and Jennifer Baker were new ride managers and together the four of them with some assistance from the park ranger measured and made decisions regarding the various trail options. Then they put out signs and ribbons to help the riders and drivers stay on course. The parking area was spacious and surrounded on all sides by woods with gently rolling sandy trails leading in and out. He couldn’t wait to return and drive over the trails and the low traffic roads through the woods, the prairie and marshes of the state forest.
We headed north from the Madison area on Saturday with everything our truck and trailer would hold, encountering rain showers along the way. But by the time we arrived the sun had returned and clear skies and sunshine brightened our spirits again. We set up camp not far from the water and bathroom stations. I relaxed by walking our young four-year-old Morab mare, Jessie Jane, around the campgrounds, visiting the tenting areas for the registration and vet check to get her used to them and allowing her to graze. Wes put up a small electric fence enclosure powered by a battery next to the trailer. This was his first attempt at stabling this way and he was thrilled when he tested it and it actually worked. Jessie adapted well to her makeshift corral, first checking everything with her senses and then settling into eating more hay. Jessie was vetted yet that evening before it got too dark. Then Wes took her back to our trailer, blanketed her and gave her electrolytes in applesauce, a bit of grain and some hay for the evening.
The night was cold but the sunshine was encouraging on Sunday morning. Frost was covering the vehicles and gear and there was a light coating of ice in Jessie’s water bucket. The air had warmed considerably by the time Jessie was harnessed. Wes and I helped Jacque Deweese get his exuberant Morgan mare Nora hitched and they started on their drive. Then we hitched up Jessie and soon Wes was trotting her over the trail leaving the campground after Jacque and Nora. I drove to a spot where the trail crossed the road to take photos. Jacque and Nora came by shortly thereafter and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Jacque smiled as I took his photo and Nora, who was completely settled in, just kept walking briskly. When Wes came by, Jessie seemed very relaxed and he said she was doing fine. I then headed to another trail crossing to take more photos of the drivers and horses.
Thereafter I returned to camp with the truck and in a while Wes came walking in from his 10-mile drive with Jessie. She passed her vet check with flying colors and got a blue ribbon for her efforts. We let Jessie eat grass for a while and visited with the ride managers and Jacque. Wes said the trees and the scenery were outstanding, and the small stream crossing and puddles were challenging for Jessie, but with patience and coaxing they had made it through. Jacque indidated Nora had no problem with the water crossings. He also commented on the gorgeous colors and fragrant aromas of the forested trails, as well as the chill in the air in the early part of the drive. They were disappointed that there weren’t more drivers there to share in this experience. Then we went back to our campsite where Wes gave Jessie some carrots and hay to munch on while I fixed a late breakfast. All the while many distance riders entertained us with their busy activities, coming and going to finish the various competitions they were in. We were in no rush to leave this pleasant place and we just sat and enjoyed the sun on our faces.