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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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Iron Oak

Iron Oaks Results – 2007

Singles – 6 mile

Place Driver Horse Points
1 Katz Jackson Talon (Morgan) 381
2 Glenn Garbisch Akea (Pinto/Arabian) 378
3 Jack Shea Kim (Canadian) 363
4 Claire Hill Carousel Classic (Haflinger) 304

Pairs – 6 mile

Place Driver Horse Points
1 Wes Licht Ranger & Lily (Morab) 365

Singles – 12 mile

Place Driver Horse Points
1 Gary Jackson Horus (Morgan) 353
2 Mary Clapper Benjamin (Rocky Mountain) 329

MDDA’s 2007 Clinic and Iron Oak Novice Ride/Drive

By Jane Licht

Black Hawk Ridge was again the site of the Midwest Distance Driving Association’s Distance Clinic and Iron Oak Novice Ride/Drive event held April 28.  Operated by the DNR, the facility offers good, well-drained trails and lovely vistas over-looking part of the Wisconsin River basin.  The only drawback is that it does not offer over-night camping and this fact probably discouraged some competitive and novice riders and drivers from attending.  MDDA board members are determined to locate nearby camping facilities and advertise them for the event next year.

Despite the absence of over-night camping on site, a group of novice distance riders and their Icelandic ponies made the trip from Iowa for the event.  Most of the horses are owned by Doug and Jennifer Hamilton who organized the group that included 3 junior riders.

For the morning clinic, MDDA chairman Wes Licht gave introductions, Roger Houk explained distance driving rules, and Elinore Tonsor gave a detailed presentation on the score sheet used for both riders and drivers.  Romona Radtke used visual aids to illustrate the different parts of the horse’s digestive system and gave recommendations for proper feeding of distance horses.  Jac Deweese explained techniques he uses in his horses’ conditioning program.  Mary Clapper talked about the items in the driver’s spares kit plus lots of extras that she likes to take along when driving her horse. Lastly, MDDA’s 2006 “Rookie of the Year,” Jack Shea gave an encouraging rookie talk.

MDDA has developed quite a reputation for exceptional meals and this year’s Iron Oak continued the tradition.  Dana Houk organized the spread and many MDDA members brought a dish to pass and other delectable food.

The competitive riders vetted early in the day and were on the trail at 10 AM to begin their 25 mile ride.   The novice riders started at 1 PM and their distance would be 12 miles.  All of the Icelandic ponies were in a group along with the group leader, Allison Goetz who rode the only non-Icelandic equine.  These hardy little creatures did well and one of them, a chestnut mare named Tata teamed with young Grace Fernyhough to win the youth division.

Jennifer Baker led the other group of novice riders.  Novice rider Nancy Leonard won top honors with her horse Chet, a Quarter Horse, proving that horses other than those with lots of Arab blood can excel in this sport.

The competitive riders returned for their midpoint vet check and stood in line to wait for their horse’s pulse and respiration readings (P&R).  Dr. Howard Ketover provided guidance to Dr. Sabrina Brount and several veterinary students who were learning how to vet competitive distance horses.  A second “surprise” vet check was applied to these horses just north of the large open-air pavilion on the grounds of Black Hawk Ridge, thus giving the veterinary students even more experience as well as an additional challenge to the riders.

The 12 mile distance drivers began their journey following the novice riders.  This group was small and included Gary Jackson and Horus, a black Morgan, and Mary Clapper and her Rocky Mountain Saddle horse, Benjamin Blue.  Then the 6 mile drivers left at 5 minute intervals.  Most of these drivers were experienced MDDA members who had decided to give their young horses a relatively light workout rather than attempt the 12-mile drive at this point in the year.  Claire Hill was the only true novice driver.  Roger Houk rode with Claire and her Haflinger mare, Carousel Classic, to give assurance that they would not get lost.

Both riders and drivers reported that the trails were well-marked with signs and colorful surveyor’s tape and so there was actually little likelihood of lost souls wandering the trails aimlessly.  Jac Deweese, Wes Licht, Jack Shea and Gary Jackson met on Thursday prior to the event and spent part of the day marking all the trails for the riders and drivers.  Many other volunteers contributed their time for the event.  Jerry Millard was the official timer with Jac and daughter Becki Deweese providing assistance.  Jane Licht and Becki Deweese registered the participants.  Sue Garbisch and her daughter Kristin wrote examination results on the score sheets for the veterinarians. (This is called “scribing.”)  Romona Radtke did a variety of tasks to assist the vets and she helped wherever needed.

Katz Jackson’s horse Talon had the best score for the 6 mile drivers and her husband Gary won the 12 mile event.  Wes Licht was the only person in the pairs division and was pleased at the efforts of his rather inexperienced pair.  Wes owns Ranger, a Morab gelding and Tom Smiley owns his mother Lily, a Morgan mare.  Wes drove this pair of chestnuts and Tom rode along as his groom.

It was a picture-perfect day with temperatures in the mid 60’s, almost too warm for horses still laden with winter coats.  However, every horse was pronounced fit to do the events and every horse succeeded.  At the awards ceremony, every rider and driver who completed their event got to select a completion award because in this sport, to finish is to win.

2007 Iron Oak

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Clinic attendees
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Dana Houk set out food
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Jac explains trail at ride/drive meeting
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Jennifer Baker and Allison Goetz (Novice leaders) are introduced by Wes Licht
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Iowa novice riders on Icelandic ponies
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Novice riders from Iowa
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Jac and Wes conduct ride/drive meeting
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Wes points out the start of the trail
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Claire Hill at vet check
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Vets plan strategy
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Jac checks Benjamin's harness
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Katz Jackson and Talon at safety check
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Claire with Carousel Classic
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Gary Jackson drives Horus
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Glenn Garbisch driving Junior
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Jack Shea driving Kim
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Mary Clapper drives Benjamin Blue
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Tom Smiley grooms for Wes Licht and his pair, Lily and Ranger
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Ranger and Lily are released by timer Gerald Millard
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Official timer Gerald Millard
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Tom Smiley with his mare Lily
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Jack Shea unhitching Kim
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Wes Licht vets his horse Ranger
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Glenn Garbisch is ready for the final vet check

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