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WELCOME to MDDA

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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AHDRA II

AHDRA II AHDRA II
Last First Horse Place Miles Pts Place Miles Pts
Troyer Tony Heart of the City (Arab/Saddelbred) 1 12.5 5.5 1 12.5 5.5
Troyer Tony Junior (Arab/Saddelbred) 1 12.5 5.5 1 12.5 5.5

Endure for the Cure – 2008

By Bryn Iten

The best adventures are the unplanned and unexpected. At the Endure for the Cure AHDRA II Endurance and Competitive Ride and Drive I experienced one I will never forget. Tony Troyer, a great horseman and an even better friend set the fun in motion on Saturday, the second day of the ride by asking if I would be willing to be a passenger/ groom for his Sunday 12 mi. competitive team drive.  Having agreed to volunteer for the entire three day ride event, I accepted his offer as soon as the question was in the air. “YES!!!”

Saturday night I helped vet-in the real stars of the show. I was well acquainted with both Tony’s National Show Horse mare City girl and Arabian cross Junior although I had never seen them in harness.

Sunday morning found us harnessing up, feeling the anticipation and excitement being channeled through the horses even though it was round two for both of them. Due to storms on Friday the trail had been re-routed on Saturday and changed back to the original for Sunday. So it was a new trail for all participants involved.

We left camp at 8:50 am with only one “oh crap!” glitch “Wait! That;s the left rein and this is the right one!” Tony offered a stream of apologies for the confusion. At least he had his reins attached, a detail I have overlooked on several ride camp exits with thankfully only humorous results.

We headed out on Cinder Road a nice two track fire road that goes through the heart of the park. Shortly we took a “haw” which I quickly, after almost falling out of the cart, learned means left onto a large open prairie also known as “Lower Creek side Prairie.” This prairie contains steep inclined trails, a horrendous ditch and on this occasion a photographer.  Under Tony’s guidance which is 99 percent voice and 1 percent rein contact, we were able to enjoy the beauty of the trail and of course the horses in their element. The man popping out of the bushes and tall grass making mechanical noises did not even receive a second glance from the horses. Lower Creek Side Prairie reconnected with Cinder Road and we traveled along two tracks once again at an even pace.

In camp I was assigned navigation responsibilities, something I felt very confident about. This is my “home park” and I have ridden every distance and type of ride offered at AHDRA II Endure for the Cure, minus the driving. Traveling down a fire road a rider enters another prairie appropriately named “Muddy Meadow” skirting the perimeter and turning onto a trail that connects it with another two track. Tony followed my directions, letting the horses move out along the edge of Muddy Meadow.

At one point we pulled into the actual field to allow three competitive riders to pass us heading in the opposite direction. Always having been the rider in these situations it was a very good eye opening and humbling experience. Horses in carts are  just as excited and unpredictable when encountering new horses on the trails as those under saddle but seem often expected to remain perfectly still in this type of situations.

Our encounter and my revelation over, we continued on at which point Tony following my directions sent the horses down the connector trail that all riders in the competition take. It starts out innocently, two track through woods with a little mud but quickly Tony was managing the team through ridges, ditches, ruts and two creeks full of rocks. Treacherous terrain in any situation.  As we bounce and jar it occurs to me that a serious miscalculation had occurred in my navigation plans. I am following the trails as if in one of the riding events, single person on top of single horse, NOT a two horse wide team pulling a two person cart. Tony somehow remained calm and collected which kept the horses on track and managing amazingly well.

This kind of behavior and performance by horses can only be attributed to their phenomenal endless trust that Tony has earned from them. Through all this I am so in awe of Tony’s horse’s teamwork and handling of the horrendous trail. I easily forget that I should be scared even when the grand finale of the trial comes. At the end of the connector trail stand large trees on either side of a trail now diminished to around eight feet wide. A large mound of earth rests here too. Tony stops the horses, gets off keeping the horses at a halt, calculates, hops back on, and maneuvers them through the impossible obstacle with such cool confident movements I am left completely speechless. Which is a change from only seconds earlier when I was urgently asking Tony if my assistance was needed to maneuver the horses somehow. Of course it didn’t sound like that as the words, “Tony? Do I need to get out?”  are what came out of my mouth in a high pitched voice.

Once on the two track we had a nice few miles of letting the horses go, doing what they love. The two track forks and curving right leads up a large steep hill known as Horse Hill that opens up into another prairie called Upper Prairie. Halfway through charging up Horse Hill Tony halts the horses. Junior’s harness clip has unsnapped and the front bar is swinging unattached. Tony has me grab the lead ropes from the back and steady the horses as some quick engineering with electric tape and wire reattach the snap.

Once on the field we make two uneventful loops around the perimeter The awesome scenery and company making the time pass at super speed. Heading down Horse Hill, we take the two track back to our first prairie, Lower Creek Side, covering the perimeter at a fast clip that is a rush like none other.

Done with the prairie, its all on Cinder Road back to camp. Sloshing through two large creeks we reach the two mile marker with a nice amount of time to relax the horses. Upon returning to camp, I bail off to speed to the bathroom, another revelation about driving versus riding for me.

We unhitch the horses who quietly stand grabbing bites of grass when possible as they wait for their P/R’s and exit exams. Tony and I take the horses back to the trailer. Once horse free, I thank him for one of the most exhilarating and fun adventures I have had via a huge hug with tons of “Thank you Thank you Thank you.”

Later at awards Tony received not only the first place but the turtle award as well, being the only driver. The team competitive driving was something I will never forget. It was an experience that confirms for me that so much fun can be had at an endurance race even if you are horseless and volunteering.

Editor’s note:

It is great to get the perspective of a passenger and rider at one of our events.  I want to thank Bryn for her delightful story of her ride with Tony.

I’d also like to point out that the severe weather had caused the ride managers to cancel the Saturday drive, but because Tony was on the grounds with his horses they did go ahead and re-route the drive.  Our apologies to Claire Hill who had planned to drive on Saturday.

One last note regarding the break down which was the neck yoke popping out of the snap.  This was caused when the keeper on the snap was tweaked on the ‘missed’ trail mentioned in the story.

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