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Annual Meeting

2007 MDDA Annual Awards Meeting

by Jac Deweese

Distance Driving enthusiasts started arriving at the McFarland Municipal Building at 3:00 PM on November 10, to celebrate the 2007 season with our Annual Awards Party.  By 3:30 the meeting room was alive with activity as folks began setting up and socializing.

While Wes Licht was busy lining up an indoor cones course around the tables, Sue Garbisch’s daughter Kristen Metcalf with her husband Todd, son Evan and daughter Kennedy set out a beautiful birthday cake for Sue that would be a yummy dessert for the potluck.  We all celebrated Sue’s birthday this year.

Very soon thereafter a second cake featuring our motto “To Finish is to Win” and an outstanding model of a horse and carriage was added to the table.  This fine example of creativity and artistic ability was contributed by Mary Clapper.

The enthusiasm became evident as the noise level increased and stories flew between groups sharing pictures and memories from events of the past year.  At about 4:00 PM, MDDA President Wes Licht called for some order and after introducing ourselves we all became involved in the driving game.  The participants worked in pairs, usually with the family member who had been an active distance driver taking the role of the horse and the other family member acting as driver. The “horse” was then blindfolded and with reins held near the waist, driven through the cones course.  The driver could not physically touch the horse, but many verbal commands were used.  Mostly “right” and “left” were heard interspersed with a loud and frequent “whoa!” or “‘stop!”.  The event was timed and penalty seconds were added for balls knocked off the cones.

Participants (driver/horse) included:  Sue/Glenn Garbisch, Larry/Mary Clapper, Becki/Jac Deweese, Katz/Gary Jackson, Carol Dilbeck/Tony Troyer, Claire Hill/Jack Shea, Jane/Wes Licht, and AnnRah/Bonnie English.  This funny event served the second purpose of emphasizing the need to maintain some ‘contact’ in the reins.  When the reins became slack, the horse’s direction soon deteriorated with a noticeable loss of time.  In an amazingly competitive event, the team of Becki and Jac were declared the winners with Claire and Jack coming in a close second

After the game, the group got down to the serious job of eating from a wonderful varied and tasty array of food.  Between bites the conversation resumed in full force.  While some were considering their third trip to the food table, Wes again interrupted to call the group together for a short business meeting.

After reviewing the minutes of the last board meeting and the profit and loss statement, some minor rule changes being proposed to UMECRA were discussed.  (UMECRA stands for “Upper Midwest Endurance and Competitive Riders’ Association” that is the umbrella group for MDDA.)  These changes would allow pneumatic tires (while still prohibiting bicycle type wheels) and permit managers to offer driving distances of 5 miles or more.  The changes are being proposed to broaden the appeal of distance driving.  We also discussed ideas for guidelines for ride managers who want to include driving at their events.  Romona Radtke, our founding member and one of our favorite ride managers who was in attendance, offered some helpful insights.

Wes held up a denim shirt with the embroidered MDDA logo that will be presented to Sandy Rudstrom, a key member of the Board who has resigned due to changing conditions in her family.  We all recognize the great contribution Sandy has made in her seven years as an active member of the Board.  We’ll miss her help and guidance in the future.

Glenn Garbisch was newly elected to the MDDA Board of Directors and the other board members were re-elected.  Jac Deweese was recognized for his many contributions to the Midwest Distance Driving website and members were asked to contribute articles and photos for publication of the newsletter.

Then it was time for the REAL business of the evening.  AWARDS!

Wes got things started by calling up our novice drivers, drivers who had not completed more than 3 events in a prior year.  These included Tony Troyer who with his horse, Heart of the City, completed 6 drives and earned the Rookie of the Year Award.  Also completing the minimum of three drives were Glenn Garbisch with his horse Junior and Claire Hill with her horse Lulu.  All received a denim shirt embroidered with the MDDA logo, driver and horse name.  We congratulate these Rookie award winners and look forward to participating with them in the future.

Next up were the Limited Distance awards, designed for less experienced drivers and/or horses, and horses that because of conformation or size may be limited in their ability to go longer distances.  The key requirement is that these horses must participate in only the shorter distance offered on any day of an event.  This group included Tony Troyer with his horse Heart of the City as the Limited Distance Champion.  They drove a total of 78 miles in 6 events and earned 32.88 points.  Katz Jackson with her horse Talon was the Limited Distance Reserve Champion.  Wes Licht with his horse Anniversary Annie earned third place, followed by Jack Shea and his horse Kim who earned a fourth place finish.  The awards included appropriately embroidered jackets and horse coolers.

The Competitive driving award recognizes those horses with experience which are driven to accumulate as many miles and points as possible.  Jac Deweese and his horse Scooter earned the Championship with 172 miles and 74.08 points in 9 drivers.  Mary Clapper and her horse Benjamin Blue earned the Reserve Championship with 148 miles and 57.76 points in 10 drives.  Jac chose a padded leather halter for Scooter, while Mary chose a customized driving quarter sheet for Ben.

The final driving award recognized Wes Licht and his horses, Ranger and Lily as the Pairs Champion.  They competed in 5 events over a distance of 47 miles to earn 20.68 points.  Wes selected a padded halter for Ranger and also one for Lily who is owned by Tom Smiley.

Mary Clapper took advantage of a pause to present Bonnie English a jacket and jewelry to acknowledge her great help during the season.  Bonnie frequently acted as traveling companion, camp cook, groom and general Aide de Camp for Mary and other participants this season.

MDDA recognizes members who have made significant contributions to our sport.  This year the Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Mary and Larry Clapper.  Larry is a frequent traveler with Mary and Ben and is always available to lend a hand to help anyone in need.  This year he was drafted into the critical position of timer at an event.  Mary consistently opens her camp for visitors and is always trying to make the camping experience a pleasure.  She out did herself this year by taking on the task of trailblazing and establishing a new length of trail at the Louise Riedel ride near Arkdale.  Mary was also one of the MDDA leaders to travel to Illinois and help present a clinic and novice drive.

After being seriously acknowledged for her efforts at expanding our driving trail, Jac Deweese turned around and presented her with a humorous “Trailblazer Award”.  This consisted of a 6 foot plus staff with appropriate warnings at different levels from the base, to be used for measuring obstacles on the trail.   It was felt that perhaps Mary had used her arm span to measure the width and because of her limited height just might have been misled about the space needed to permit a cart or carriage to safely pass.   It was suggested that the staff itself might prove to be useful to measure the minimum width between obstacles such as trees.  The height measurements were labeled as “No Sweat” for 4 inch obstacles, “Take it Easy” for 8 inch obstacles, “Straddle These” for objects below 12 inches and “Get Real” for objects above 12 inches.  When Jac failed to provide details of the events leading up to this award (due to embarrassment for blindly following Mary onto this trail after a tornado had blocked it) Wes took over.  He related how he was debating whether to follow instructions and not turn onto a new trail even though he could clearly see that two other carts had indeed gone that way.  While debating this he was approached by Elinore Tonsor waving and saying “Don’t go on that trail, it’s blocked”.  Followed immediately by “Have you seen Mary or Jac?  Ben came running into camp without his cart and without Mary.”  A short time later Jac and Scooter came back out of that trail with Mary as a passenger.  It turned out that Mary had hit one of the stumps on ‘her’ trail and rolled her cart.  Mary and Ben came out with little or no damage, but the cart and harness did require some repair.  This episode earned Mary the “Trailblazer Award”.  For a really hilarious version, get Bonnie English to tell you her interpretation of Ben’s reaction when he arrived back in camp.  The printed word just wouldn’t do the story justice.

Now that Wes had enjoyed giving Mary the raspberries, Jac turned the tables and presented him with the “Oh $%#t Award”.  As we all know nothing of note happens to Wes at a competitive event, but this year it seemed appropriate to present Wes with an award that would remind him of the Northern Illinois Challenge drive.  Unfortunately I was not in attendance at that event, but Tony Troyer was perfectly capable and willing to share the circumstances.  Apparently this year a section of the ridding trail was opened to the drivers.  This section apparently included a very steep down hill section.  At the end of the drive Wes is reported to have related how he was standing on his dashboard while leaning back over his seat to keep his balance.  We all agreed that this would have been one of Wes’s “Oh $&#t” moments and deserved to be commemorated.  It made enough of an impression on the ride manager that that section of the trail was changed for the following day.  From Wes’s expression when presented with the award it seems that we were right.

After cleaning up the facility a very light hearted group reluctantly broke up to head home, do chores, and dream of next year.  It had been a wonderful gathering.