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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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Scooter Jigsaw Puzzle Katz and Talon Jigsaw Puzzle Jane and Wes Jigsaw Puzzle Glenn & Junior Jigsaw Puzzle
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Last First Horse Place Miles Pts
Licht Wes Ranger (Morab) 1 12 5.28
Shea John Kim (Canadian) 2 12 4.8
Clapper Mary Benjamin (Rocky Mountain) 3 12 4.32


Last First Horse Place Miles Pts
Shea John Kim (Canadian) 1 12 5.28


Last First Horse Place Miles Pts
Troyer Tony Heart of the City (Arab/Saddelbred) 1 15 6.6
Troyer Tony Junior (Arab/Saddelbred) 1 15 6.6
Jackson Katz Talon (Morgan) 1 15 6.6


Last First Horse Place Miles Pts
Shea John Kim (Canadian) 1 15 6.6


By Wes Licht

When I arrived at Horseman’s Park, I found an open spot in the day parking area very near the Start and Finish.  A friendly face and a familiar horse greeted me.  It was Jack Shea with his Canadian horse Kim.  They obviously had been there a while since Kim was comfortable with hay and water in front of him and he had a number on his side.

After a cool morning, it was a bright and beautiful afternoon – perhaps a bit warm for some of the horses that had started to get their winter coat.   Jack’s horse, just standing by the trailer and eating, was noticeably sweaty.  Jack said that happens a lot due to his black color.

I unloaded Ranger and tied him near Kim so he could see another horse that was relaxed and mannerly.  After fixing him with hay and water, I headed to the shelter to check in and UMECRA president Sheryl Levin handled my registration.  A third driver, Mary Clapper, appeared and asked a couple of questions about our driving route.

Down from the shelter a few endurance horses were being vetted in.  Having been out on the trail, they looked warm but none of them were having any problems.  Upon questioning a couple of riders, they indicated it was very pleasant in the woods and there were no bug problems at all.

I hastened to vet in Ranger but the endurance horses kept coming and took priority over our predrive vet check.  Barb Gardner, Ride Manager, assured me not to worry even though we were nearing our starting time and I needed a few minutes to harness and hitch Ranger.  There was some flexibility in the schedule and I could go last in order and that would give me the time I needed to prepare.  Ranger was not very patient, perhaps picking up cues from me, and he showed lots of energy in the trot out.  His manners were lacking with the vets but eventually we were finished and he received his blaze orange number.

Friend Sandy Rudstrom wandered by as I was about to hitch and she gave a hand to steady Ranger.  Mary and Jack were already started and timekeeper Larry Clapper kept me informed about how many minutes I had till my start.   After one last check of harness and things, I climbed on my marathon vehicle and off we went.   Ranger was very happy to be on the move and so was I.

The small hills and deep sandy footing at the beginning of our trail was good for adjusting Ranger’s attitude quickly.  He realized this was work and settled down to a steady trot, even walking when I asked him to slow down.  Then came the stony trail up and down the larger hills.  My back told me that my four-wheel carriage is twice as bumpy as my cart and we picked our way through this area carefully.  I was pleased with Ranger being so forward but willing to listen.  He was sweating profusely but this was expected with the temperature up and the work more difficult on these hills.

Since most of the endurance riders had already finished, we encountered only a couple on our way out.    Protocol is to pull over and stand quietly while the riders pass and Ranger was very cooperative in doing this.   The distance horses had no problem with passing but a couple of recreational riders had horses that were more apprehensive.   After the last riders we moved on to the trails that were more gently rolling with solid footing and lovely vistas.   Ranger enjoyed cruising here and I had to give him some walking breathers now and then.

After about four miles, I encountered Mary in a wide spot in the trail.  Her horse Benjamin looked warm but steady.  We exchanged greetings and a question, “Did you notice the 2-mile marker on the way out?”   We were told that two miles was marked but we obviously had missed it.

Shortly after, Jack and I met up with each other and likewise, he had not noticed the 2-mile marker either.   Having been on this trail before, we speculated where it should be.

A few minutes after we left Jack and Kim, Ranger and I found the Turn Around sign for our drive.   I checked my watch and calculated that we were doing well on time.  I adjusted my strategy to press forward where the trail was excellent and utilize a slower gait when we hit the stony area.  This would allow Ranger to cool down and hopefully lower his P/R rate.

I found the 2-mile marker in the area where we had encountered the recreational riders.  It was not terribly obvious but it was there.   I checked my watch again and continued with my game plan.  All forward motion and no stopping after this point but we could take a more leisurely course back to camp.  Ranger was very willing to alternate walking the down slopes and trotting up the steep hills.  This put us at the finish right in the middle of our ten-minute window of allowed time.

Ranger drank a bit as I completed unharnessing him and we headed over to the vet check area.  Mary and Jack had already finished vetting in.  Ranger stood quietly as I attempted to relax him but he was warm and his breathing had not settled down.  Not until about a minute after his P/R check did he take his first deep breath.  At least he wasn’t in any trouble.  Ranger displayed a good trot-out and improved manners for the vet exam.  Now he would get to roll in the sand and have a cooling bath.

DRAW IV – 2008

By Jac Deweese

This year has been something of a ‘bummer’ for me and Scooter.  I simply haven’t been able to drive Scooter enough at home to be comfortable using him in competition.  Imagine my delight to find that Tony Troyer was in need of a groom for Saturday!

Saturday arrived and I traveled to Palmyra to join up with Tony and his horses, City Girl and Junior.  City Girl is an old pro at this kind of stuff, but Junior is relatively new.  It showed at the pre-drive vet check.  City Girl had a heart rate of 8 and respiration of 3 or 4.  Junior, even though he seemed very laid back and relaxed, had a pulse of 14 and respiration of 7.

After vetting we proceeded to harness and hitch.  I’m unfamiliar with a pairs harness and this was a learning opportunity.  I was also fascinated by the forecart that Tony uses.  I learned that it had been built rather than purchased and found that it had a unique adjustable axle to aid in balance.  I was pleasantly surprised at how light the tongue weight was in spite of the obvious heavy weight of the tongue and cart.  It’s built like a battle ship!

I was impressed with the quiet acceptance of the horses to the whole procedure.  Hitching a pair is a much bigger task than hitching a single.  After wrapping the yoke snaps with tape to prevent their coming loose, we were ready to go.  As we approached the timer the horses showed their Arab heritage and provided a few moments of excitement.  This was soon dissipated as they settled in to their task of pulling this large, heavy cart down the trail.

Almost immediately we were surprised to see a pair of lath markers that appeared to be the exact width of our cart.  I was amazed to see that Tony passed between and both were left standing in our rear.

The heavy sand was easily conquered by the automobile tires.  Their width allowed us to literally float over the sand and it appeared much easier for the horses than my narrow wood wheels.  A very annoying noise was immediately apparent.  It turned out to be the metal double tree bouncing on the metal tongue.  This was constant throughout the entire drive and was really annoying, at least to an old guy like me.

It’s also the first time I have ridden any distance as a passenger.  My legs were too short to effectively brace on the floor board and as a result I found it difficult to keep my back from banging into the unpadded back rest.  At times it really hurt and I found the lack of a suspension system very annoying.  Tony’s grooms in other drives have been young women and I’m sure they were more resilient than an almost 70 year old man!!  (Probably better companions too!)  I did invite Tony to come and take a ride in my home made cart as I’m sure he would note a distinct improvement in ride comfort.

In spite of some discomfort the scenery was outstanding and we had many encounters with riders which required us to stop while I got out and headed the team.  These encounters were invariably pleasant, especially since Tony knew virtually everyone we met and there was a good deal of bantering between he and the riders.  One thing about the banging double tree is that we never surprised a rider.

Tony felt somewhat challenged by the narrow trail.  Indeed, considering the width of his cart it was a challenge with either sharp drop offs or rather high shoulders.  I was impressed with Tony’s ability to judge how to make some of the sharp turns without issue, especially since this rig is 2 to 3 feet longer than a typical cart without the advantage of a turntable that you have on a 4 wheeled carriage.

As we approached the finish line we realized that we needed to negotiate through that narrow finish line marker.  Tony’s comment was that doing it once could be put down to luck, doing it twice should be allowed as ‘good driving’.  I had to agree and was dully impressed when we successfully made it through a second time.  Later measurement showed a total clearance of 3 inches!  Pretty darned good driving!

When we vetted I was interested to note that Junior had exactly the same P/R as in the pre-drive vet.  He also had some evidence of lameness in the left front.  Later evaluation seemed to indicate some tenderness from the breeching.  He had been swinging out going down hill, apparently trying to avoid the breeching.  We had agreed that the breeching seemed to be a little too low on Junior.  I think Tony will adjust it a little higher in the future.

The only other participant on Saturday was Katz Jackson who drove her mare, Talon.  We like to tease Katz about getting lost but she had no problems on Saturday and enjoyed the drive.

I was also able to visit with Mary and Larry Clapper.  Larry has become the ‘go to’ timer and had been pressed into service on Saturday.  Mary, after driving Benjamin on Thursday, decided to try the novice ride on Friday.  Her comment, “Riding is not the sport for me.” Probably says it all.  She noted that Benjamin now has a hard time deciding on whether to ‘gait’ or ‘trot’ and the result is a very rough ride.  Her experience on Friday kept her from driving on Saturday and she wasn’t even sure that she would be able to go on Sunday, although she was feeling much better when I left on Saturday.


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Becki and Marguerite Deweese visit with Jack Shea before the drive
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Dr. Tracy prepares to vet in Ranger who is held by Wes Licht
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Jack Shea and Kim head out on the trail
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Jack Shea and Kim on the trail
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Another view of Jack Shea with Kim on the trail
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Kim is harnessed and waiting to be hitched
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Mary Clapper and Benjamin Blue start out on the trail
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Mary Clapper and Benjamin Blue on the trail
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Mary Clapper gets some last minute directions from Barb Gardner, ride manager
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Mary Clapper is on her way down the trail
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Wes Licht and Ranger on the Trail
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Wes Licht and Ranger head down the trail
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Wes Licht and Ranger wait their turn at the vet check
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Wes Licht visits with friend Sandy Rudstrum
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Kim seems to be wondering "Where is the cart"
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View of Fall color on the trail over Heart of the City and Junior
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Junior seems to be asking Heart of the City, "Can we really get between those flags?"
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Heart of the City and Junior are heading out on the trail with driver Tony Troyer and groom/passenger Jac Deweese
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Heart of the City and Junior tied to their trailer. Forecart in the background.
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View of the trail over Heart of the City and Junior
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Preparing to meet a rider
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Heart of the City and Junior wait for riders to pass
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Katz Jackson and Talon start their drive
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Katz Jackson is getting Talon ready to go
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Tony Troyer meets Katz Jackson and Talon on the trail
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Katz Jackson and Talon on the trail
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Timer Larry Clapper hands out a time card
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Larry Clapper checks in a rider

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