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UMECRA Convention

MDDA Members Attend 2010 UMECRA Convention

By Wes Licht

Eight Midwest Distance Driving Association (MDDA) members were in attendance at the 2010 UMECRA* convention held on January 23 at the Olympia Resort and Spa in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  It was a chance to renew friendships, share stories and participate in a full day of activities.

The morning session consisted of a panel of 4 veterinarians who are active during the year with vetting at various rides in the UMECRA circuit.   Each took a turn at presenting a topic of their choice to the entire membership. Dr. Tracy Busalacchi began with a presentation on ulcers in performance horses.  Dr. Dean Peterson addressed improvements and challenges for competitive riding.  Using his experiences with high level competition, Dr. Beecher spoke concerning the ethical treatment of endurance horses.  The last presentation by Dr. Wes Elford focused on identifying lameness in our endurance and competitive horses.  It was obvious that we, in the Midwest, are well represented with some fine equine veterinarians.

After lunch, the general meeting was led by UMECRA president Rick Nelson and addressed the issues of members and board members regarding endurance and competitive competition. Various members of the board presented over 20 rule and by law changes to improve communication, scheduling, various problems and practices at the events.  Each ride was eligible to have one voter delegate per day of the event.  Since our Iron Oak event was a single day last year, I was the only voter.  At my table, Gary and Katz Jackson were delegates for the two-day Glacier Trails ride, helping out ride managers Monna Radtke and Elinore Tonsor.  A roll call of delegates indicated that there were 72 eligible voters at this meeting.

One of the competitive rider/driver issues that was modified by the voting members was the use of boots on the horses. After a lively discussion, specific wording was passed to clarify the intent of the rule.  If the boots are designed to protect the sole of the hoof and don’t cover up any parts above the hoof, they will be permitted and not penalized two points per leg per day. Conversely, if part of a boot protects the coronet band or parts higher they would be assessed penalties.

Another rule, specific to competitive driving safety, was modified and passed easily.  It reads, “No equine shall be hitched to a vehicle without a bridle and reins.  Violators will be subject to immediate elimination and excluded from further driving at the event.” Thanks to the MDDA board and leaders Jac Deweese and Tony Troyer for getting this specific language to UMECRA to better address the intent of the rule.

A ride schedule for 2010 was handed out with ride managers making last minute modifications before it was passed.   Events with driving competitions should be listed on the MDDA website very soon.  At first glance, with a couple of changes, there should be ample opportunities for competitive driving this year.

Lastly, the delegates at the general meeting reelected Rick Nelson as UMECRA president.  Dr. Wes Elford was selected to be the Veterinarian Representative (Vet. Rep.) Two state representatives (Wisconsin delegates chose Joslyn Seefelt) and four rider representatives were all approved to end the long meeting.

After a short break to relax, the members returned for a social hour, continued to bid on the many items donated for the Silent Auction and found tables with friends to enjoy a very fine buffet dinner. There were no complaints as the food was hot and delicious and served on time.  Rick Nelson, with help from several members, soon presented a long series of year end awards and some very special awards to the many competitors in attendance.  Top five UMECRA driving awards went to Tony Troyer, Wes Licht, Susan Keating, Mary Clapper and Tim Casserly.  Special thanks was directed to Elinore Tonsor, who was in charge of organizing the place and the buffet for this 2010 convention.  After about two hours of awards and lots of smiles, lots of photos and lots of applause, Rick Nelson was surprised with a portrait for his selection into the UMECRA Hall of Fame.  He has been involved in all aspects of endurance and competitive riding since 1970.  The evening ended with handshakes, hugs and congratulations being shared and dancing to the music of a local DJ.

* The Upper Midwest Endurance and Competitive Rides Association (UMECRA) is a distance riding organization which sanctions endurance and competitive rides and drives. UMECRA sanctions over 40 such events throughout the Midwest.