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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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My Backyard


Saturday, June 28

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Jun 29


by Ruth Casserly

Oddly, I’ve had a couple of ride managers tell me that they’re considering adding drives to their rides in the future. For the life of me, I don’t know why when we can’t get drivers to turn out to the drives that are currently offered!!  We have to support their efforts or the sport and club will disappear!  Very frustrating.

Added by Jac,

I have to concur with Ruth.  Many of us have been intimately involved with managing rides and we surely know the frustration of marking a trail for one or two participants.  The effort and time involved is way beyond the rewards.  It is inconceivable that managers will continue to support events that draw only one or two participants.  In my opinion, it is just a matter of time before we start to lose driving opportunities and that will ultimately lead to the demise of distance driving.

Maybe that is as it should be.  We certainly haven’t seen any growth in participation or even interest. 

The lack of interest isn’t only in our area, I have seen no growth anywhere in the country.  Even with prominent articles in popular driving magazines there has not been even a slight spike in interest as might have been expected.

I would guess that the cost of transportation, camping and travel were largely responsible, but how do we explain the continued popularity of CDE where the cost, time and travel is at least equal and generally considerably greater?

I wonder how much of a consideration is being out on the trail essentially alone as opposed to a CDE where you are seldom out of sight?  Or might it be our stressing of conditioning and the ‘work’ and ‘time’ that represents?

I don’t know that the reasons are, but it is pretty evident that our sport attracts a very limited audience.  Failure to gain that audience is likely to result in the demise of our sport.

No photos from this event.

9 comments to My Backyard

  • Sharon Hahn

    Robin, there is always somebody at camp willing to be recruited as a groom/navigator/passenger. In fact, that is how I got converted from a distance rider to a distance driver!

  • Sharon Hahn

    Jeanne, keep in mind that you can take up to an extra hour to finish a distance drive and still complete (with a penalty score, but who cares?)

  • Robin Sahner

    Why this particular driver hasn’t been turning out:

    For me, the fact that we’re alone and out of sight out there on the trail is a big reason. A driving accident can happen in the blink of an eye; I have seen it. At a CDE, on Section A we are generally out of sight for most of the time, but we carry a navigator so we’re not alone. It’s also the case that there’s always someone coming along in 5 minutes, and lots of people zipping around on golf carts to come help if it’s needed. I know I could carry a passenger on a distance drive, and I have done that, but it’s not always easy to find someone willing to go camping for a weekend just to be a passenger.

    Another reason is the uncertainty of trail suitability, footing and conditions. I don’t consider myself a fair-weather rider/driver, but I am protective of my pony.

    OK, so I’m a driving wimp.

    But – I would be very sorry to see the club disappear. I had hoped to come to some drives this year, but I’m still bringing my pony back from a bout of laminitis – he’s sound now but not fit. I might be able to bring him to Big River in October.

  • Jac

    “Maybe we should have “biathlons” where you do your distance drive and then have to negotiate a cones course!”

    Interesting. I’ve had the same thought but it seems that space is lacking at many events. I actually have a set of 20 cones on a roller rack with the balls in a basket along with a set of red and white numbers. I’d be willing to loan them out if anyone wants to give it a try.

    Always thought it would give the riders something to watch and maybe stir up some interest.

  • Sharon

    I’ve had some luck recruiting drivers from local driving clubs to try our events. One person tried it and had fun but didn’t really feel she needed an “event” to go trail driving. Perhaps the problem is that driving 10 or 15 miles isn’t challenging enough to attract the same sort of hard-core people that are distance RIDERS. CDE adds some precision into the mix to make it something you need to work at more. Maybe we should have “biathlons” where you do your distance drive and then have to negotiate a cones course!

  • Christina

    I’m not a driver, though I would hate to see the sport of distance driving shrink. How do you advertise the sport? Is there a way to specifically reach out at events such as the carriage classic in Colombus ?

  • Jeanne White

    I just did an HDT this weekend. Cost was probably about the same as for a distance drive. My most worrisome thing keeping me from entering a distance drive is the conditioning factor and secondarily the relative slowness of my haflinger. The marathon was 3K and the optimal speed 12 KPH. The time window was 12-15 minutes. We were over time by 2.5 minutes or so (though vitals suggested she didn’t work as hard as she could have).

    The furthest I’ve driven to date is about 5 miles and our pace (per Google Tracker) was only about 3.5 MPH. Is this good enough to attempt a distance drive? I see Wildcat is close to home for me. I have emailed an inquiry about closing dates and such, but have made no firm decision to attend.

    • Jac

      Jeanne, I’m puzzled by the 3.5 MPH over 5 miles. Did you walk all the way? Most horses will walk between 3 and 4 MPH. A 10 MPH trot is a reasonable expectation. So walking 50% and trotting 50% of the time should yield an average of 4.5 to 5 MPH.

      To answer your question ‘is this good enough to attempt a distance drive’. It’s marginal. Most events are between 6 and 7 MPH. Over 12 miles that equates to a time of 1 3/4 to 2 hours. At 3.5 MPH it will take you almost 3.5 hours to finish.

      There is a 1 hour window for a completion. Your time would be outside of that window. You would need to average about 4.5 MPH to earn a completion award.

      In my experience 4.5 MPH should be easily achievable and I’d encourage you to give it a try.

  • Jeanne White

    I just did my first HDT yesterday. The distance on the marathon was 3 K (only) and I was over by some 2 and a half minutes with my Haflinger. She passed the vet check with flying colors, so it’s not a case of being totally out of condition, but if I can’t do 3 K at a 12 KPH pace, there’s no way I’m going to manage 12 miles in any sort of competitive time. I’m back to the drawing board for “engaging the accelerator”. I want to try competitive driving, but not til I’m at least competitive enough to avoid total embarrassment.

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