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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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Manager Guidelines

Guidelines for a Driving Event

The following should be considered when choosing driving trails:

Width of trail should not be less than 6 feet and this only for very short distances.  8 feet is very adequate, but you should keep in mind any possible need to meet ridden horses or other carriages where a minimum of 12 feet is desired.

You also should keep in mind the space needed to negotiate a 90 degree turn.  The length of the horse, shafts and wheels requires a radius of at least 12 feet.

Short lengths of steep inclines on a driving trail are doable but long lengths of very steep hills should be avoided if possible.  The weight of cart and driver will range between 300 and 500 pounds. Driving horses going down steep inclines have difficulty with this weight pushing against them and can lose their footing.  Tremendous exertion is needed for pulling the weight up long steep hills, especially where running starts are not possible.  The rules do allow for passengers to get out so their weight is not added to the difficulty.

Obstacles, which cannot be avoided such as tree limbs or boulders, should be no more than 8” above the trails surface.

Areas of the trail that contain obstacles such as boulders or stumps that may not be clearly evident to the driver should be identified with a warning sign.  Keep in mind that a 4” to 6” obstacle, taken at speed, can overturn a cart or carriage.

Trails with sharp sideways slant add risk for overturning.

Roads may be used to get from one off road trail to another, but for safety from traffic use ditches/shoulders where possible.  Note that our rules prepare for this by requiring a SMV sign on all vehicles.

Water crossings:

Gravel or sandy bottoms are ideal.  Avoid crossings that have unstable bottoms.  Mud is more of a problem for carts because the narrow wheels will sink excessively.

A depth up to 18 inches should not be a problem if the footing is solid.

Try to avoid very steep and narrow entrance and exit points.  Anything less than 45 degrees should be acceptable.

As a general rule, if you would be comfortable driving a short wheel base pickup over the trail, even if forced to use 4 wheel drive for some portions, it should be perfectly acceptable for driving a horse and carriage.  An ATV is not an acceptable guide because it is too narrow and has too short a turning radius.

Other considerations:

To appeal to both local and more distant drivers consider offering driving on consecutive days, with the 1st day starting later in the day.  This will appeal to drivers who can only participate on one day and allow those traveling longer distances to stay over and get two days of driving for the cost of one trip.

When possible use one marked trail for more than one distance.  For example:  Offer a 10 or 12 mile drive and a 20 or 24 mile drive using the same trail a second time. Some drivers may choose the shorter distance while others will want to drive the additional miles.

When it is likely that a trail will be shared by both riders and drivers, both groups should be advised of the following protocol:  “The driver will stop and hold his horse as quietly as possible to allow the riders to pass.  The driver should hold his whip away from the ridden horse.  Riders and driver should talk to each other when meeting and passing.”  For example:  Comments like, “It’s a beautiful day” or “Isn’t this a great trail”, helps the horse to understand that there is a human in the carriage and that it may not be a monster about to eat that poor horse.

The driven horse may be unable to stand still for an extended time and it is unsafe for the driver, if alone, to dismount and hold the horse.  In some cases it may be necessary for the rider to dismount for safety.  Trying to force a frightened horse on the trail can be dangerous.

Riders might be encouraged to follow a cart around camp to aid in getting their horses accustomed to driven carriages.  For example:  Consider asking a driver to hitch up for this kind of exercise the night before the ride.


The following should be kept in mind when establishing the ‘ideal’ time for driving:

A driving horse will have an easier time (generally) than a ridden horse on level and gently rolling hills.

A driving horse will be more stressed by hills, both up and down, than a ridden horse and this additional stress is even more evident in hot/humid conditions.  This added stress should be kept in mind when evaluating the steepness of hills on the driving trail.  An over faced driving horse is dangerous because he is captured between the shafts and is prone to injury from broken shafts if he rears, spins or otherwise tries to express his inability to handle a situation.

Mud and deep sand create more stress on a driven horse than on a ridden horse.

A carriage is subject to sliding sideways on angled trails, especially when wet.

Minimum Time

Maximum Time

Group A

Group B

Miles

Hrs

Mins

Hrs

Mins

Hrs

Mins

Hrs

Mins

6

0

51

1

5

55

1

0

10

1

26

1

49

1

30

1

40

12

1

43

2

11

1

50

2

0

15

2

9

2

44

2

20

2

30

20

2

51

3

38

3

5

3

20

Target time should be increased if:

-1-the trails include significant portions of sand and/or hills.

-2-when temperatures and humidity are a factor.

-3-when trails are slick from rain

-4-when drivers are expected to meet significant rider traffic and thus incur frequent stops.

The following suggested times for specific drives may offer some help in determining what time to apply to your drive.  These suggestions do not include temperature/humidity which may justify going to the next higher time allowance.

GROUP A – A good target speed for normal weather at Black Hawk & New Prospect.

Minimum Time (Rounded up to nearest 5 minute interval) would be appropriate for Neillsville, Arkdale and Farmdale which are relatively level with good footing.  They normally will require additional time due to temperature and humidity.

GROUP B – May be appropriate for Palmyra, Spring Green, Galena, and Prairie du Chien due to hills.

(Note:  Palmyra’s time should be adjusted toward the Maximum Time for sand/hills if the trails across the road are used)

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