We’re glad you stopped by to visit our website on distance driving. Perhaps you’ve just discovered MDDA and want to learn more about just what we do. Perhaps you’ve come to check the schedule to see when and where competitive drives are being held or check the results of past drives. Or perhaps you are just interested in looking at some photographs of our horses and drivers at the various competitions. Whatever the reason, thanks for browsing and drop us a line if we can answer any questions or be of service to you.

Midwest Mtn Quest

2003 Midwest Mountain Quest
Drive Results –  Oct 4,2003 – Praire Du Chien,Wi
10 Mile Drivers-Single
1st – Theresa Burns with Bold Endeavor Gus, Cross, 390 points
2nd – Paul Schamberg with Amigo,385 points
10 Mile Drivers-Pairs
1st – Wes Licht with Jessie and Lady, Morabs, average of 384 point
2nd – Dean Achenback with CC&Sour and Captain&Coke, Draft Cross, average of 347
20 Mile Drivers-Single
1st – Randy Rudstrom and Gus, Standardbred, 379 points
2nd – Jac Deweese and Nora, Morgan, 356 points
3rd – Sharon Brunzlick, 353

By Jane Licht

The driftless (unglaciated) area of southwest Wisconsin is as close as we can get to “mountains” and the tops of these substantial hills provide a glorious view of the countryside.  The Midwest Mountain Quest distance ride/drive at the Children’s Ranch near Prairie du Chien is famous for its challenging trails and scenic views.  This time the event was held October 3-5, 2003.  Camping and most of the vetting took place at the Horse Park near the bottom of a large hill.  Organizers were concerned about the possibility of rain but there was little on Friday and sunny skies on Saturday.  Most participants camped out with their horses and were well-prepared for cold temperatures. Campfires and groups of people sitting in circles around the fires were common.

Saturday morning, those of us at the Horse Park who are carriage drivers packed up and drove to the top of the hill for our distance drive that would start at the Children’s Ranch.

The Rudstrom family had been camping for several days.  They even had their “kitchen” tent set up.  Their daughters, Sara, Rachael and Jennifer and mother Sandy had been distance riding while father Randy crewed for all of them.  The rest of us came Friday night or Saturday morning.

After we thought all the vetting was done and the first driver had left, Dean and Connie Achenbach showed up with their pair of draft-crosses.  No problem, they would still have time to be vetted and start out at the end of the group of drivers who were leaving in five minute intervals.  Shortly after that, another rig pulled up.  It was Paul Schamberg and Larry Leppin with Paul’s Quarter Horse, Amigo.   They found a spot and quickly got their horse out for vetting.  Dean and Connie also had to bring their horses to the vet immediately, giving them no time to recover from the stress of trailering.  This was their first try at distance driving and they learned a lot.

Our start time was 10:25 AM and by the time we left, husband Wes and I were shedding layers of clothing as the sun warmed the morning.  We took off with our Morab mares, Lady and Jessie, using our nifty little marathon vehicle.  Wes also uses it for training and combined driving events so it gets lots of action.  We were instructed at the drivers’ meeting that we should walk a good portion of the trail because of the steepness going downhill.  Wes did not mind the ups and downs but it was skewing of the trail that was a challenge.  We both did a fair amount of leaning to the left when our right wheels were considerably lower than our left.

The views were spectacular and made the drive very enjoyable.  We drove through meadows, around farm fields, through a bit of woods and next to bugling elk in a large fenced enclosure.  At many turns, we could see for miles and miles.

Near the first part of the drive as we were trotting through a beautiful meadow, we came across Jim White and his pair of horses.  Jim’s groom, Rich Brannen was attaching a lead rope to one of the horses (halters were under the bridles) with intentions to lead the horses back to the start at the Children’s Ranch.  They decided that the large wagonette over the rugged ground made too hard a pull for Jim’s older horses.  Discretion is a large part of valor and we appreciated their decision.

Those of us who elected to do the “ten-mile” drive came in our window of one hour and fifteen minutes with no problem and we suspected that the drive was actually not quite ten miles.  We waited for the 20 milers to come in and then went back to the Horse Park for a short awards ceremony.

MDDA President Theresa Burns set the good example by completing the 10-mile single horse division with an amazing 390 points with her well-conditioned Quarter-horse cross, Bold Endeavors Gus.  Paul Schamberg and Amigo were not far behind with 385 out of a possible 400 points.

Our mares did well in the pairs division, getting a combined average score of 384.  They still had energy at the end of the drive and trotted out briskly for Howard Ketover from the Madison Equine Clinic, our veterinarian at the drive.  Dean’s pair also had good pulse and respiration scores but one of his horses took a notion to be uncooperative so Howard had to take off points for disobedience.  CC&Sour had been easy to handle for Dean so he was not sure about the reason for this sudden change in attitude.

The famous team of Randy Rudstrom and Gus repeated their winning ways with a score of 379 to lead the 20 milers.  Jacque DeWeese and Nora, and also Sharon Brunzlick with Junior had very respectable scores of 356 and 353.

Sharon’s daughter, Cadence, rode along with her mom in the cart and Sharon’s husband Larry attended as the support person plus rode his mule on some of the trails, so this event was a real family affair for the Brunzlicks.

We were pleased to see the eight drivers and their family members and friends participate.  However, we realize that we will need more participation next year to keep the sport viable.  This activity has attracted many riders over the years and we would like to see more drivers participate as well.  It is a great way to really get to know the physiology and emotions of your own horses and it creates a bond like no other sport.  Plus, you don’t have to polish brass!