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Midwest Mtn Quest

Midwest Mountain Quest – Saturday 2005
10 Mile Drivers-Single
1st – Gary Jackson (Horus – Morgan) 357
2nd – Bruce Thayer (Dayo – Morgan) 348
20 Mile Drivers-Single
1st – Wes Licht (Lena Su Ladyhawk – Morab) 347
2nd – Jac Deweese (Scooter – Morgan) 343

Midwest Mountain Quest 2005

By Jac Deweese

A variety of issues had made this trip to Prairie du Chien questionable and it is late when I am able to start preparing to go. Scooter has shown a fear or at least a distrust of the trailer and we’ve been working on resolving this problem for about a month. We’ve got everything loaded and it is now time to test our efforts. I catch Scooter, lead him over to the trailer and he hops in. What a wonderful surprise!

So we head out at 6:30pm. It’s going to be a late arrival. With the very curvy road and in the dark, the trip takes a little over 3 hours and we arrive at the campground at 10pm. I’m surprised to find a spot near the vet check area and pull in. Set up goes smoothly and we are all settled in by 10:30. As I’m setting up Elinore Tonsor, one of the ride managers passes by give a friendly hello. We’re sharing the grounds with some weekend trail riders who seem to be deliberately noisy. I learn the next day that indeed they were expressing their displeasure over the early morning noise of the endurance riders that morning.

After a good night’s sleep I am awakened by camp activity about 5am. Knowing I won’t get any more rest I get up and discover that Scooter hasn’t touched his water. This is a concern and I take him out of his pen for some hand grazing in the dark.

As we walk through the generally quiet camp, we are drawn toward an open field with the big dipper hanging in all its glory. The stars are brilliant and I find myself gazing at them as Scooter searches for the tastiest bits of grass. After about 45 minutes the sky starts to lighten and we head back for our camp.

People are now up and tending to their chores. I mix the beet pulp and grain for Scooter and leave him happily munching while I fill out the paperwork of getting us entered. Elinore and Ramona Radtke (the other ride manager) are there and as I check in they inform me of a benefit breakfast at the end of the road. They plan to take the vets, Howard Ketover and Jon Quinton, and the volunteers (Hugo Hartman and June Ross) to breakfast there before our drive which starts at 10am.

The vets are present and there is a lull in the activity, a perfect time to get vetted in. I pull Scooter from his pen and am surprised when he is unwilling to stand for Howard’s inspection. This is very unusual and I’m not sure what is the matter. He does stand well to have his legs checked by Jon and I’m thankful for that. Ramona tells me that it is bad when the manners scoring knocks you out of competition before the event even starts. (This proved to be almost true.)

I search out the other driver and his wife, Wes and Jane Licht, who stayed over night to see if they are interested in going to the breakfast. They are and after Wes gets his horse Lena vetted in we enjoy an excellent pancake breakfast, returning to camp about 8am.

We are delighted to see that Gary Jackson and Bruce Thayer have arrived while we were gone. There are now four drivers. Wes and I will do 20 miles while Gary and Bruce will do the 10 mile drive. Gary and Bruce are both Morgan breeders who are very proud of their fine horses. Gary has been competing a number of times this season and has his horse in good condition. Bruce attended our Iron Oak Novice Ride/Drive and the Midwest Mountain Quest drive would be his second time out. Bruce informed us that he had just retired and was looking forward to more driving activities. He was very enthusiastic and positive about his experience.

This will be the first drive where I have my Old Mac boots and I’m anxious to see how they affect Scooter’s performance. I put them on at about 8:30 to allow Scooter time to get used to them and give myself plenty of time to get them on and adjusted. I remember that there is a right and left, but can’t find the label. Sure enough I’ve got them on backwards! I remove them and refit. Scooter is very patient and it is a painless exercise.

While hitching, Scooter has one of his moments and is swinging back and forth making it very difficult to hitch the cart. Fortunately, Sandy and Randy Rudstrom have come on their motorcycle (Randy’s horse Buddy is still recovering from an injury) and they immediately offer assistance. Once hitched, Scooter becomes his old reliable self again and we drive down to Wes for a quick harness check.

We are back at the starting line almost exactly on time and Hugo tells us we are free to go.

We have a steep blacktop drive from the camp to the trail and I’m pleased to see that Scooter is happy to maintain a slow trot all the way to the top. It’s really a pretty drive with the road twisting and climbing through the woods. Scooter is working smoothly and I am enjoying the view and the power of my horse.

We go around the barn and past the old plow sitting on a large concrete pad. The plow concerns Scooter and he moves over a bit but proceeds without pause.

As we turn onto the trail we immediately encounter three riders. We slow down but they move over and tell us to go on. We exchange a few quips (mostly about my ability to stay upright in the cart!) and soon leave them behind. We are moving through woods and the trail is excellent.

We soon enter a meadow and turn through a gate into another meadow. There are a group of trail riders ahead. We slow and approach with caution. They voluntarily move off to the side and we visit briefly as we pass. I notice that three riders are on long ears. Only one of the mules appears to have a concern about the cart and we move slowly and cautiously by. Everything is OK. The trail has ruts worn by the riders over time and we move forward with care.

No problems and we are soon approaching the million-dollar home. It really is marvelous, sitting in all its majesty on top of a big round hill. Across a gravel drive and into a meadow, past the elk pasture, marked by a very high fence, then on past some round bales along the trail. We meet some more riders and again pass without incident. I think the ridden horses are getting used to the carts.

We are now going down a gentle hill and I know we are approaching a very steep down hill but can’t remember exactly where it starts. I’m not concerned because Scooter is listening very well and I’m able to pace him at will. Sure enough we are at the steep hill. I ask Scooter to walk and we negotiate it very easily. I have the impression that the Old Macs are helping. In the past we have slipped on this hill, but today it seems easy.

We see a lone rider approaching at a trot and we stop but he waves us on and we continue by with no problem. We drive past a clay bird launcher and a shooting deck into the yard of a cooperative neighbor. We walk to do minimum damage to his lawn and turn down a fence line that parallels the road. We are cautious, since this area has not been mown and we are uncertain about the terrain. After crossing a dry ditch we move onto the road and pick up a trot as we look for the entrance to the lumber trail.

It’s further than I remember but soon we are at the lumber sign and the very long graveled road up out of the valley. We encounter the same group of riders that we passed when we entered the trail. They must have taken a different route because they had not passed us! As we trot by, one suggests that we give them a tow up the hill! We laugh and keep going. Soon we meet a couple of trucks pulling trailers. We pass them with a wave and a smile. As the road gets narrower and steeper we are confronted with a pair of mini vans coming down. The banks are rather steep so we slow to a crawl and pass cautiously. No problem and Scooter picks up his trot.

When the hill becomes even steeper, Scooter attempts a canter but he soon backs off to his ground covering trot. We see riders ahead, but we are all going about the same speed so we just maintain our distance as we finally break over the top of the hill. There are a couple of pickups in the meadow at the top of the hill and the riders pull up. I’m wondering if there is water there so I also stop, but Monna tells me it is surprise check for the riders and I should keep on going. Scooter is hot after the long hill and I’m a little disappointed that we can’t stop for a bit, but the trail is almost level and across a meadow so we continue at a walk.

Scooter soon recovers and we are trotting nicely through the bean and corn fields. Scooter is fascinated by a farm stead in the distance. The buildings are bright white and red with tall silos and it is very attractive in the bright sunlight. He offers a couple of whinnies to see if there might be a horse or two in the distance. No luck and we continue to the road crossing.

Across the road and we are still running through beans and corn. I’m impressed by how good the crops look. They must have had more rain. Through the fields the only concern I’ve had is to stay in the trail. Some of the sides are pretty steep and if we wander too much I could find myself lying on my side again. Not a pleasant thought!

As we approach a gate Scooter suddenly plants all four and then jumps slightly to the side! We are confronted with a car coming at the same narrow gate. We both stop and since I am closest to the gait I drive through and into the hay field to get around him. We both laugh and wave and continue on our way.

As we proceed through the newly mown hay field (the smell of hay is one of my favorites!) Scooter can smell horses and starts talking. Sure enough we are at the Children’s Ranch. I don’t know the history of this facility, but they obviously were giving riding lessons to some young folks. Scooter thought maybe we should join the fun, but I convinced him we should return to camp.

As we drove through the facility we noticed a horse tied to a hitching rail who was showing some concern at our approach. We paused, she seemed to settle down and we proceeded slowly by. Once past it was obvious that she no longer was concerned and we moved on down the trail.

We soon came to the 2 mile marker and had a nice open meadow so we trotted across the meadow knowing that we had the long downhill on blacktop that we would want to walk. We did stop in the middle of the meadow to retrieve an Easy Boot that someone had lost.

We were soon back in camp and passed through the mid point vet check with no problems. I checked the Old Macs and could find no evidence of rubbing so we were ready to go after our 40 minute hold.

The second round was a repeat of the first. There were only two significant differences. On the long gravel hill, Scooter doggedly walked. He was getting really tired but he never hesitated. The second difference was that when we got to the water tank about 2 miles from the finish he stopped and drank his fill.

I was proud of Scooter. His results were identical at the mid point and the finish. He had no evidence of problem, but he was tired and his trot out at the end left something to be desired. I’m always impressed that no matter how hyper he may be in camp, he is a perfect driving buddy on the trail. 100% responsive to my cues and willing to stand quietly when encountering riders on the trail.

Wes and his super horse Lena, maintained their winning way in spite of some apparent trials and tribulations. Wes had fitted Lena with Easy Boots on all four feet. Apparently on the first round a couple of them came off and he spent some time back tracking to recover them. (It turned out that the one I found was one that he had lost.) As a result Gary and his horse Horus caught up and when Gary took a wrong turn Wes spent some time trying to find him to get him directed back on track. He was not successful in finding Gary, who eventually returned to the trail and in spite of going off course for some time he managed to place 1st in the 10 mile event.

Then to add insult to injury, Lena caught a sign with her tail while waiting for the final vet check. This excited her just before taking her pulse and respiration and they jumped considerably over her normal 9 and 2! The standard joke among distance riders is to tell everyone that your horse always has a pulse and respiration readings of 9 and 2, which is so low it is zero points off your score, but this is actually quite typical for Lena.

The results were:

Ten mile drive: Gary Jackson (Horus – Morgan) 357; Bruce Thayer (Dayo – Morgan) 348

Twenty mile drive: Wes Licht (Lena Su Ladyhawk – Morab) 347; Jac Deweese (Scooter – Morgan) 343

2005 MMQ

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Bruce Thayer and Dayo trot circle
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Bruce Thayer and Dayo head up the hill
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Checking Dayo's gut sounds
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Horus gets his respiration checked
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Dr. John Quinton and Dr. Howard Ketover
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Driver's meeting
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Gary Jackson and Horus at the start
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Gary Jackson and Horus trot for vet in
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Gary Jackson and Horus wait their turn
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Dr. Howard Ketover checking Dayo
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Hugo records Lena's time
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Jac drags Scooter thru the trot out
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Jac and Scooter ready for safety check
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June Ross taking Dayo's pulse
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Katz Jackson riding her mare Talon
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Checking out a map of the trail
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Signs for the park
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Romona Radtke on the gator
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Scooter mid point trot
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Scooter at mid point check
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Gary trots out Horus
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Wes Licht and Lena arrive for mid point vet check
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Wes and Lena at Childrens Horse Camp
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Wes Licht and Lena on the trail
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Wes and Lena relaxing
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Wes offers a drink to Lena
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Wes Licht and Lena trot out

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