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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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ApDRA 2005
10 Mile Drivers-Single
1st – Wes Licht -378  Annie
2nd – Randy Rudstrom – 369  Buddy
3rd – Jac Deweese – 354  Scooter  —  Tie for 3rd
3rd – James Clay – 354   Pepe     —–  Tie for 3rd
5th place – Art Espe – 340   Fancy

ApDRA Ride
By Wes Licht

When I arrived at Horseman’s Park and parked my truck and trailer near the Deweese vehicles, Marguerite greeted me with a cheery “Hello.”  Jac had already set up his tube gate pen for Scooter and was off trying to get Scooter his pre-drive vet check. After unloading my cart and Annie, I tied up her hay bag and filled her water bucket all in the shade of the big Ash tree protecting us from the intense sun.   The humidity and heat were high but Marguerite remarked that Jac was pleased to have a sunny warm day for the drive for a change.

At registration, a volunteer was recording scores coming in from a surprise vet check for one of the rides going on.   She remarked that the P/R’s were very high – an omen of things to come.  Vetting for the five drivers that were there was finally completed as other riders were finishing and took priority.  Ride manager Dawn Haas gathered us and indicated a change in the trail but said that getting lost was next to impossible with lots of orange ribbons and paper plates pointing the way. She also indicated use of the water tanks that were put out was acceptable since it was hot and no natural water was available.   It was a bit of a hurry with harnessing, hitching and quick safety checks but everyone made it out on time.  Being on the trail was a welcome relief for anxious horses and drivers and it seemed somewhat cooler in the shade of the woods.

There were a couple of photo shooters near the beginning which excited Annie for a moment and then we settled into a strong trot.  An occasional bit of deep sand on the trail along with some small hills made her pull harder but she wanted to trot despite the terrain.  Finally, after about 7-8 minutes of being out she became willing to walk without lots of persuasion and I decided we should strategize more to conserve our energy.  It was hot but it felt great to be competing again.

I slowed down and looked back as I passed the backside of some paper plates.  I had been anticipating the 2 mile marker set up for the same route home and now that I had passed it going out, I made a mental note of the terrain just to be sure I would not miss this spot coming back.  Hopefully my Annie and I will be along this way with about 20 plus minutes left so we’ll have a leisurely, less stressing ending for this drive.

The bright overhead sunshine left us and I heard a weather siren – possibly from Palmyra.  Shortly after, Connie Gray and Katie Ruckel came riding by, finishing their 50 mile Endurance.  I pulled to the side and stopped – protocol for carriages meeting riders on the trail.  They came along side and I greeted them and Connie mentioned severe storm warnings were out.  I wondered how she knew the latest news and then realized that they had just been at the road crossing, where they probably met their crew who shared the information with them.  Soon we were trotting out of the woods and in the open meadow where we could hear car traffic.  I stopped Annie in front of the water tank near the highway but she was too leery to put her head down to reach the very low water level so I moved on.

Along the road Tracy Porter was setting up her tripod to shoot some video of competitors and we spoke briefly.  They had not heard the siren.  Beyond her truck I noticed the wide traffic gate was still closed but obviously the other driving competitors had made it through. To the right of the post was a small passage for riding horses and I squeezed into that area, noticing other cart tracks before me.  The right wheel went up high over the edge of the berm but I was leaning in anticipation of this and maneuvered Annie through and we were on our way again.

The trail was relatively flat and solid for a while and we made good time. Annie’s ears perked up as Randy with Buddy came trotting around a bend.  He was the first driving competitor out and now was on his way back so I knew we were nearing halfway.  He had not heard the siren either.  Encountering more riders I pulled to the side under some large leafy trees.  As they rode by I noticed it starting to rain but I was prepared for the expected downpour. I had packed my rain suit and quickly put it on before I left the shelter of the trees.  The light rain continued as Jac Deweese with Scooter, closely followed by Jim Clay with Pepe, came trotting down the hill.  Neither was prepared for the rain but Jac commented that the rain was good for Scooter to help him cool down.  Then just as quickly the rain stopped.

The sun reappeared during the last mile before the turnaround point and I stopped in the shade of a large oak to shed my steamy rain gear.  Annie seemed invigorated after turning back and we moved quickly on the trails.  Art Espe, driving Fancy, was the fifth competitor out and we encountered each other at a narrow area with just enough space for passing.  Minutes later Jim Haas was filling the water tank as we crossed the road but once again Annie didn’t feel comfortable to drink despite his coaxing.  It wasn’t long before we were at the 2 mile marker and I checked my watch.  Not much extra time for leisurely driving but I wasn’t worried since Annie still seemed willing to move out on cue.  Once again the cover of the woods felt good and for the last time I noticed two other shade lovers – the wild geraniums with their lavender bloom and the delicate lady ferns.  A wild turkey crossed the path directly in front of us but Annie didn’t lose stride.

With no time to spare I drove Annie to the finish, picked up my green card and hastened to unhitch, unharness and rest up for the P/R check – just 10 minutes away.  Marguerite was at the trailer explaining why many things were out of sight as folks had earlier scurried to put away gear when a bad storm with accompanying high winds was predicted.  Evidently it moved on around us and things were back to normal. Annie took a long drink from her water bucket and then I moved her to the vetting area to wait quietly for my P and R.  Dawn came by and said the DNR man had stopped and sheepishly admitted, with apologies, that he had forgotten to open the wide gate for the drivers.  Soon I called “Time for P and R” and handed my card to the scribe.  “Fourteen,” the vet said as she removed her stethoscope from Annie’s side, “Every one’s been rather high.” As she began her respiration count, Annie took a very long, deep relaxing breath.  “Just in time,” I thought.

Despite the heat and humidity, all the driving horses finished with acceptable pulse and respiration counts and “to finish is to win.”   It had been a very good day.

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