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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.

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Scooter Jigsaw Puzzle Katz and Talon Jigsaw Puzzle Jane and Wes Jigsaw Puzzle Glenn & Junior Jigsaw Puzzle
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Future Events

Midwest Mtn Quest

Midwest Mountain Quest 2004
12 Mile Drivers-Singles
1st place  (tie) –  Jac Deweese driving Ashes, pony – 385 points
1st place (tie) –  Raven Fisher driving Domminic,  Warmblood – 385
3rd place –  Jim Clay driving Peppy,  POA – 381 points
4th place – Pauline Stollenwerk with Tony, Standardbred – 319 points
25 Mile Drivers-Singles
1st – Wes Licht driving Lena,  Morab – 395 points
2nd –  Connie Gray with ToGo, Arab – 375 points
3rd – Randy Rudstrom driving Buddy, Standardbred – 369 points

Midwest Mountain Quest – Enjoying the Challenge

After a blustery, cold rain late Friday afternoon until dark, the clouds cleared and stars appeared in the night sky.  However, on Saturday morning the sun seemed slow to peak over the big hills surrounding the LaRiviere Horse Park. There was a fine layer of ice on the water bucket, the frozen autumn leaves on the ground crunched under my footsteps and it seemed like this was a very early beginning to long underwear weather. But as the day brightened and the temperatures rose, so did the activity and spirits of everyone in camp.

Word spread to all the drivers after the vet check that the starting drive time was moved back an hour to 11 AM to allow for repair of the trails.  Ride Manager Romona Radtke had been out early replacing trail markers that the wind and rain had destroyed.  At the driver’s meeting another problem was discussed.  The newly built road for the drivers to get up to the upper trails was extremely muddy and not safe.  The group decided that the best alternative would be using the blacktop driveway that goes up to a nearby farm and rerouting the drivers around the buildings and connecting to the established trail.  It was a wise decision for the safety of all and required only a few sign changes.  Starting times were quickly established and everyone headed off to harness horses and prepare for the drive.

The beginning of the drive was indeed a long, winding steady climb up this blacktop road and while yet damp, it was not slippery.  I thought back at how our concerned ride manager, drivers and support people had all come together to formulate this last minute change to benefit horses and drivers.  I yelled a big “Thank you.” to the home owner as I drove past the house and barn and reconnected with the original trail.  There was lots of ground cover with only small areas that were bare of leaves or grass and I noted the tracks of the two carts that had started before me.  Romona had marked the route well with special notes on the signs to signal where the trail was “rutty,” “steep” or “sharp turn ahead.”   The late morning sun felt good as I drove Lena across the rolling hills with alternating fields and small patches of woods. She seemed invigorated and she energetically walked and trotted according to my commands.

We met up with a group of riders and I asked Lena to stop for a minute while they passed by.   Most riders assured me that their horses could handle the strangeness of the vehicle pulled by my horse and most did without too much fuss.  But this protocol has become standard procedure at distance events by riders and drivers for the safety of all and has certainly benefited our relationships.

The marked trail led us through two other farms past outbuildings before descending at the edge of a long scenic field where the views were spectacular.   While the wind and rain had brought down the yellow aspen leaves, a few of the oaks were beginning to change and the reds and purples of the wild grape, sumac and Virginia creeper along the fence lines and woodland edges were peaking.   Across a quiet valley road and back up again we trotted, this time on a hard-packed gravel road of a logging company.  The woods ended at the top of the hill and the trail led us along the ridge of incredibly scenic farmland.  With clean crisp air filling our lungs, our eyes feasted on the deep greens of lush alfalfa, the golden hues of mature beans and the fading colors of the frosted cornfields.  All were contrasted with each other as contour farming and strip cropping along the ridgeline was the norm for saving topsoil.  Here the cool winds picked up significantly and the dry corn leaves rustled as we trotted by.

fter passing through one more farmstead, this one busy with putting up silage, we encountered the Children’s Ranch and slowed to watch some youngsters riding in a couple different corrals.  I had heard that this enterprise was going through lean times and might be sold and I thought about the many boys and girls who had learned valuable horsemanship skills on top of this high ridge.  Beyond the large barn, the trail started back down and it suddenly became familiar.  I realized we had covered a wide expanse of hills and valleys in our loop.  The sign read “1.6 miles to Camp” and I checked my watch and adjusted my speed.

After descending on the blacktop, Lena was content to walk the road to the Start and Finish.   A few folks gave cheery greetings, and inquired about the challenge of the trail.  After receiving my green card, I unhitched immediately, removed the harness and offered Lena some water and a few bites of nearby grass.  Then I walked her to the vetting area and waited quietly for my ten minute check time for pulse and respiration.  Lena relaxed considerably in the warmth of the sunshine despite the ongoing activities of other riders and drivers nearby.  Her PR scores were good, her trot for soundness passed inspection and we moved back to the green grass area where she enjoyed relaxing while I chatted with some visitors from Minnesota who wanted to learn more about distance driving.  We watched as other drivers finished their 10-mile competition, unhitched and went through the vetting process we had just completed.  We also saw Randy and Connie, who like us were on a 40-minute hold, each in turn head out again with their horses for their second loop to finish the 20-mile competition.

The official clock hung on the park shelter soon indicated it was our time for harnessing and hitching to do our second loop.  Lena stood quietly for me as we prepared to go back out again.  I climbed aboard, waited for the official send off by the time keeper, and asked Lena to move out once again.  She willingly walked the gravel road and then began a slow trot as the gradual climb turned more difficult.  I let her choose her own speed for a while, paused at the level cutback on the blacktop climb to the top of the farm hill and then resumed trotting up and past the buildings before connecting to the trail through the woods and fields.  It was considerably warmer than the first time around, especially where we were protected from the wind.  I checked my watch, noting the time difference till we needed to finish, mentally reviewed the trail and set up my plan to keep good forward progress and ease Lena over the miles of beautiful hills and valleys without stressing her too much.  Everything seemed to be in place.  Now to enjoy the day.

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