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.

What is Distance Driving?

Participating in Competitive Driving

When you first arrive at the location of the drive, often a state park or a horse farm, you will quickly spot the organizers. They are the ones answering questions, making announcements and handling registration. Find a place to park your trailer and be prepared for lots of activity!
Before the drive, you will present your horse to the veterinarian for inspection. The veterinarians are in essence, the judges of the event. They check the horse’s pulse, respiration, gut sounds, and look for problem areas. The vets will ask you to walk your horse in a straight line and then trot him out in a large circle. Any sign of lameness and your horse would be disqualified. Horses are expected to have good manners during the vet check and points are deducted for unruly behavior. All vital signs and other observations are noted on each horse’s score sheet. Each horse begins the event with 400 points, and points may be deducted throughout the drive.
Next is the pre-drive meeting. You will listen to a brief orientation about the trails on the drive, which have been laid out by volunteers to be a 10-12  mile loop returning to ride camp.  For a 20-25 mile drive you do the loop a second time.  You will be given your assigned start and finish times and you will strive to reach the finish within a 10 minute window.
After the vet check,you harness your horse and hook up to the carriage.  Make sure you have your helmet, gloves, whip and spares kit. Next is the safety check which is done by an organizer or volunteer experienced in driving. Your harness, vehicle and spares kit are inspected.
A volunteer will let drivers begin at the starting point in 5 minute intervals. The trail may be very obvious but if it is not, look for colorful surveyor’s tape and signs with arrows on them directing you to turn. On you go, over rolling hills and meadows, winding through woods and perhaps you find a little creek or beautiful vista on your route. The drive is not a race and you will likely be able to meet your window of time using a steady trot with periods of walking. Are you nearing the midpoint vet check? Then slow down to lower those metabolics.
The midpoint vet check is usually 40 minutes, total length. You can unhook your horse, allow him to drink and graze a bit and present him to the vet 10 minutes after arriving at the check point. Often the crew or other volunteers bring buckets and large jugs of water in a pickup truck to the check point. If there is natural water, such as a pond or stream, you could also sponge down your horse. The vet checks the metabolics of each horse and an assistant records the information on the score sheets. A horse found to be in distress would be quickly attended to.
You did it! You made it to the finish line in your correct window of time and your horse is still very willing to go. Now you have exactly 10 minutes to cool down your horse and present him to the vet for pulse and respiration readings.  You will offer him a drink and a bit of hay to help him relax.
“Come on, fella! Please still have some energy”, you say to your horse as you trot him out for the vet check at the end of your drive. Arabs, Half-Arabs, Morabs, and Standard Bred horses are often used but any breed can do well at competitive driving given the proper conditioning.
Just as in competitive riding, a potluck dinner and awards ceremony cap off a perfect day of driving. The camaraderie of all those involved in competitive driving is an important part of the experience. So, attend an MDDA Clinic to learn about conditioning your horse and come join the fun

You will be given an Entry Form (shown below at the registration desk.  The entry form is filled out before the ride. Hand in the entry form along with a copy of your coggins report and your entry fee to the ride managment. They will give you your number and the time that you will be expected to be ready to leave for the drive.