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Annual Meeting

2011 Annual Meeting
by Jac Deweese

Dedicated members gathered at the McFarland Community Center on Dec 4, 2011.  The gathering started at 12 Noon with small groups recounting experiences and the sound of laughter resounded in the hall.  Food quickly piled up with the accompanying mouth watering odor permeating the area.

Old acquaintances were renewed handshakes and hugs.  It was a special treat to see Larry and Mary Clapper and Wes and Jane Licht who had been absent from competition this year, the Clappers battling health issues while the Lichts waited for their horse Ranger to recover from his injuries.  Both couples anticipate a much better new year and we wish them well.

By 1 o’clock, everyone had assembled (and Wes was forced to leave for another commitment) and the food was beckoning.   President Tony Troyer lead the gathering in a short prayer and Gary Jackson led everyone in filling their plates with the abundance of food.  Everyone settled into a filling meal supplemented with lively conversation at each table.

After everyone had filled to capacity, president Tony Troyer welcomed the attendees and introduced Dr. Howard Ketover as the featured guest and speaker.

Dr. Ketover led the group in a discussion of how our sport might draw more participants.  He noted that drivers as a group are doing an excellent job of preparing their horses for competition and suggested that we generally fail to ‘challenge’ their ability.  Evidence of this is the relatively high scores for driving horses.  He suggested that the competition would be enhanced by either extending the distances driven or designing more technically ‘challenging’ courses.  He went on to point out that CDE (Combined Driving Events) enjoy a much higher level of participation and wondered why that would be.  Some thoughts were expressed that CDE offers more ‘types’ of competition with dressage, cones and cross country versus essentially cross country offered in distance driving.  It was also noted that CDE offers more ‘spectator’ appeal with dressage and cones (and even some of the hazards) being easily viewed by spectators and other competitors.  Because of this CDE is generally considered more ‘social’ than distance driving which is more of an ‘individual’ activity.

It was pointed out that MDDA is by far the most active distance driving organization in the country with limited participation in the Southeast (SEDRA) and the Northeast.  There was a group in the Southwest who conducted distance driving as a joint rider/driving event that more nearly followed endurance rules but that group seems to have petered out.

Although CDE enjoys apparent popularity with maximum or near maximum attendance, and does vastly exceed the participation of distance driving, it still represents a very small proportion of the drivers in the country.  The majority of drivers would be considered recreational drivers.  They tend to stay near their homes and may drive only occasionally.

The need for ‘conditioning’ and the perceived time required for conditioning, seems to be the biggest negative in attracting these recreational drivers to our sport.  The very thing that attracts the interest of our participants, distance and the ‘challenge’ of the trail, prove to be distracting to these recreational drivers.

The idea of incorporating cones at distance driving events was suggested, but it was also noted that few of the events would have space available for such an activity.  The concept of adding a spectator appealing event just might be appealing.  It would certainly provide some entertainment factor and allow the riders to more closely observe the skills of the drivers and their horses.

The business meeting was then called to order.  Ruth Casserly was elected treasurer and added to the board of directors.  Tony Troyer was re-elected as president.  Gary Jackson was re-elected as vice president.  Alice Hubert was elected secretary and added to the board of directors.

We thank Jack Shea and Katz Jackson for their service as treasurer and secretary, respectively and welcome Alice to the board.

MDDA voted to only sanction events which have been sanctioned by UMECRA.  This will avoid counting drives for year end awards that apply only to MDDA and avoid ‘last minute’ changes at events.

MDDA will cooperate with DRAW on a spring clinic to be held at Shirley May’s farm this spring.  Katz Jackson will be the MDDA coordinator.

Jac Deweese suggested exploring a closer relationship with DRAW as a means to help both organizations.  MDDA might obtain assistance with the riding events at Iron Oak in exchange for some assistance from MDDA members at DRAW events.

After the meeting the awards were presented.  In addition to the standard driving awards (see YE Awards for photos and details) there were a few ‘special’ awards.

This year marked the first horse to achieve 500 driving miles and the recipient was Hearts Big Boy (Buddy) currently owned and driven by Rick Nelson.  Buddy achieved a number of his accumulated miles with Randy Rudstrom as his driver.

Tony Troyer presented Ray and Alice Hubert with a ‘Personal Achievement’ award in recognition of their willingness to go outside the box of limited distance and attempt some longer distance drives.  They were successful and we hope they continue their participation in the longer distance events.

This year marked the introduction of a new traveling trophy to recognize the horse and driver combination achieving the highest number of miles for the year.  The trophy includes the past winners from 2001 and was presented to Rick Nelson and Buddy for the current year.  The combination accumulated 130.5 miles and just barely beat out Tim and Ruth Casserly who were forced out of competition with an injury.

We also had to present a ‘tongue in cheek’, Most Challenging Trail award to Tony Troyer for the very memorable Big River event.  Similar to the Mary Clapper ‘Trail Blazer’ award we simply had to recognize a drive that proved too ‘technical’ for some drivers.  In this case no less than three drivers were ejected from their vehicles, and one was actually displaced twice on the same day.  In this case it was Tony himself!  We decided it would be appropriate to pass on the ‘measuring’ tool previously presented to Mary and added a certificate to commemorate the specific event.

Photos by Jane Licht

2011Annual Mtg

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L-R, Carol Dilbert, Rick Nelson, Katz Jackson, Ruth Casserly, Tim Casserly and Gary Jackson
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L-R, Rick Neslson, Carol Dilbert, Ruth Casserly, Tim Casserly and Gary Jackson - Note the food spread! Everything was delicious as usual.
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L-R, Dr. Howard Ketover, Tony Troyer and Carol Dilbert enjoy lunch
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Foreground L-R, Jack Shea, Larry Clapper, Mary Clapper and Luann Shea
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Foreground L-R, Terri Delke, Jac Deweese, Marguerite Deweese, Katz Jackson, Gary Jackson, Ray Hubert and Alice Hubert
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L-R, Dr. Howard Ketover, Tony Troyer, Carol Dilbert, Tim Casserly, Ruth Casserly and Rick Nelson
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President Tony Troyer welcomes attendees and introduces Dr. Ketover
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Dr. Howard Ketover makes a point
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Attendees listen to Dr. Ketover's presentation
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Katz Jackson accepts LD Champion Singles award from Tony
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Tony Troyer accepts 4th Place Singles award from Jac
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Tony checks out fit and models his award
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Alice Hubert accepts 3rd Place Singles award from Tony
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Ray Hubert accepts Reserve Champion Singles award from Tony
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Ray and Alice receive Personal Achievement Award from Tony for advancing into longer distances
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Rick Nelson accepts Champion Singles Award from Tony
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Ruth and Tim Casserly accept their Champion Pairs awards from Tony
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Rick Nelson accepts the 500 miles achievement trophy for his horse Hearts Big Boy (Buddy), the 1st horse to achieve 500 miles in MDDA
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Rick Nelson holds Buddy's 500 mile trophy and the new traveling 'High Mileage Award' also earned by Rick and Buddy in 2011
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Jac Deweese presents Tony Troyer with the Trail Measurement tropy, passing this trophy from Mary Clapper to Tony for creating a 'challenging' trail
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Tony receives the 'Most Challenging Trail' award for his Big River Ride where a record number of participants were bounced out of their carts (3) a record number of times (4) in one day!

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