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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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Future Events


Wildcat – Saturday 2005
13 Mile Drivers-Single
1st – Wes Licht driving Anniversary Annie, a Morab
2nd – Gary Jackson driving Horus, a Morgan
3rd – Pat Jarocki driving Rocky, a Mini
13 Mile Drivers-Pair
1st – Julie Dahlberg driving Bess and Rowdy, Morgan crosses
Wildcat – Sunday 2005
13 Mile Drivers-Single
1st – Brian Fischer driving Uffda, a Fjord
2nd – Gary Jackson driving Horus, a Morgan
26 Mile Drivers-Single
1st – Wes Licht driving Lena, a Morab

Wildcat 2005 (Saturday)

by Wes Licht

Hardly a campsite could be found when I arrived late morning at Wildrock County Park, north of Neillsville, Wisconsin. But near the south end I located an area, just newly vacated, for my truck and trailer. It was clean and shady, and not far from the bathrooms, water supply and manure pit. I moved my truck and trailer into position, unloaded my horses, put water and hay in front of them and set up my electric fencing. Mark Dahlberg came by with greetings and told me how lucky I was to find a place. He and Julie, Luke and Beth had arrived last night and all potential sites were taken so they had to park along the drive.

The picnic shelter was empty as Ride Management and the vets were all out at other sites busy with competitive and endurance horses. But I found the forms and registered both Annie and Lena for the weekend drives. I chatted for a while with the Dahlberg’s and friends Deb and Brian Sauer and shortly the horse ambulance (a volunteer with truck and trailer) came with Jac Deweese and his horse Scooter. Jac informed us that he had attempted the 2-day 60 mile drive, leaving early in the morning, but that Scooter had come up with a stone bruise at the 2nd vet check. So he was hauled back to camp and Jac had to go and pick up his cart and harness.

About a half hour later, the veterinarians and Ride Manager Elinore Tonsor had returned and all the drivers gathered with horses in hand by the shelter for their vet check. Jac came by with his camera and snapped us waiting patiently. Elinore gave us information about the trail at the drivers’ meeting and established an order of go. Then we all headed our separate ways to harness and hitch and head out.

I was last to go following Pat Jarocki driving her Miniature stallion Rocky by five minutes. Ahead of her were Gary Jackson with Horus, and Julie with navigator groom Deb driving Bess and Rowdy. Our trail left the park and we headed straight up the gravelly and dusty road for about a mile. My big concern was how Annie would react with these four-wheelers passing her. She was tested early and often before we turned off road to be on a windy, wooded trail blocked off from the all terrain vehicles. The noise of the machines slowly passing by had caused some concern for Annie at first but it was manageable and I appreciated the considerate drivers.

It was great having such wide open trails all to ourselves and Annie seemed to enjoy getting out and going forward. We often slowed for curvy and uneven terrain, mostly caused by heavy trail use by the motorized traffic. Dust was not a problem on this wooded stretch of trail and in many places there were good size pools of water from the last rain. While Annie quickly sidestepped the smaller puddles, it became a game to put her through the larger pools. She quickly learned that the footing beneath the shallow water was always solid and soon we even began trotting through with little effort. I found out later from Gary Jackson that he was doing similar water training with his Morgan stallion.

After about six miles out, Annie and I noticed Pat with Rocky in a steady trot on the trail ahead. I checked my watch and decided to hold back slightly, giving Annie more chances to walk and play in the water. When I came in sight of Pat a second time I decided to stop for a drink and also fix my lead rope that seemed a bit sloppy tied to the straps right behind the backpad. Annie was willing to stand and by chance I spotted some ripe blackberries opposite my cart. With one hand holding reins, my other hand quickly pulled off a couple dozen of the dark sweet berries. When I could find no more to eat, I put my glove on over my purple stained fingers and returned to driving. It was a wonderful break.

After a couple more miles, I approached a vetting station for the riding competitors. A couple of trucks were there, along with riders, horses and their crews. A volunteer helped guide me to an open area where water was made available for drinking and sloshing on this hot afternoon. Annie was not interested in drinking but using my towel rag I generously put water on her neck and poll and down her legs.

I checked my watch again and moved out with approximately four miles to go back to camp. The road was fairly straight but we took notice of the several play stations along the way for the four-wheelers – places where the hilly terrain lent itself to accelerating over bumps and through shallow puddles. Again, most drivers covered in dust around their helmets, goggles and neckerchiefs were courteous as they passed by and some even stopped their engines upon meeting us. I thanked them all as Annie now moved on with minimal concern.

Somewhere near the two mile marker, I caught up with Pat and Rocky again. This time I decided to pass as I wanted to be closer to the finish before I did any extended walking. Pat and I exchanged greetings as Rocky kept on his steady trot and we slowly moved by. As the camp neared I checked my time again and brought Annie down to a leisurely walk. Three riders passed me by, one with a horse that had probably never seen a cart before, and so the rider dismounted and led her wary horse in the rest of the way. Pat and Rocky also passed me with a few blocks to go, still doing that steady trot.

At the finish I checked in with Hugo, the official timer, and after getting my green card, drove Annie over to an open area near the vet check station. Quickly unhitching and unharnessing, I gave Annie a drink and let her eat a few bites of grass before moving her up to where she would get her pulse and respiration checked. Amidst the excitement of other horses coming in and a few ATV’s on the perimeter of the parking lot, she was willing to stand quietly for a few minutes. She took a lovely deep breath just shortly before my 10 minute P&R check and remained relaxed while the vet examined her. Her trot out was good and her legs and muscles were all in good shape. Back at the trailer I treated her to some presoaked beet pulp, along with her pellets, carrots and electrolytes, and began thinking about relaxing myself. It had been a fun afternoon.

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