Site Users

This site is not optimized for mobile access.  Would you like to access from a mobile device?
41 Vote
7 Vote

Subscribe for updates




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.

Stored Msgs

Puzzle Fun

Scooter Jigsaw Puzzle Katz and Talon Jigsaw Puzzle Jane and Wes Jigsaw Puzzle Glenn & Junior Jigsaw Puzzle
Join MDDA now!     Check out what drivers like about distance driving (right sidebar)

Future Events


Competitive Distance Driving Rules…

1. Distance Driving Horses will follow the same rules as Competitive Horses with the following
General Rules
A. The pace for a drive is between 5 and 7 mph. The pace will be determined by the drive
management. Factors determining the pace will be heat, humidity, difficulty of the terrain,
conditions of the trail.
B. Mileage of Distance Drives shall not be less than 5 miles, but may be any greater distance that
provides a safe and practical venue for driving. Longer distances are encouraged.
C. There shall be one division: Single Horse and Multiple Horses– regardless of the age of the
driver shall share a division for points and awards. Junior drivers must be accompanied by a
sponsor in the carriage from start to finish, who will assume full responsibility of the turnout.
D. Drivers should be started at 5 minute intervals. This may be shortened by a minute or two if
number of entries exceeds 12.
E. Competitive drives must use the “window system “ as follows: A driver may come in from 5
minutes before or up to 5 minutes after the exact scheduled time without losing points. One
point per minute is lost for coming in before or after these limits, up to 55 minutes (a total of 55
points) without being disqualified.
F. When scoring multiple horses, each horse shall be scored individually; however, their
individual scores are averaged to determine the final score.
G. Drivers can be accompanied by a groom, or have a groom meet them at vet checks, who can
assist in all aspects of the competition, except driving. (See Rules for drivers for more
H. Natural water at water crossings can be offered by the groom from a bucket.
I. Drivers will have 15 minutes to present their horses to the veterinarian for pulse and respiration at the vet checks and at the end of the drive. (2013 rule change)
Rules for Drivers
A. 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.
B. Horses will not be left unattended while put to a carriage. They cannot be left tied to a trailer
unattended while put to a carriage.
C. A Slow Moving Vehicle sign must be on the rear of the carriage and displayed at least 3 feet
from the ground.
D. The driver must carry a whip in hand at all times while in the cart, but not during the pre and
post drive veterinary exams.
E. Breeching or a brake is required.
F. Helmets for drivers and grooms are mandatory
G. Pair carriages must have a groom. Duties of the groom include assisting the driver in hitching
and unhitching, cooling out, holding and helping in the care of the horses. the groom is NOT
allowed to share the driving. The groom may give the driver directions on the trail.
H. Single drivers may carry a groom. The duties of the groom would be the same as for the
I. At no time during the competition may the groom/passenger or others along the route hold back
the carriage going down a hill or push the carriage up a hill. Failure to comply will result in
immediate elimination.
J. Safety Check. There will be a safety check prior to the start of the drive to inspect harness and
K. Spares Kits are required. They include a Knife, Screw Driver, Pliers, Small hammer, Leather
Punch, Hoof Pick, Wheel Wrench to fit axle, Length of Rawhide, string, or wire, Halter and lead
per horse, Cooler or quarter sheet for each horse, A Hames strap if applicable, Spare rein or
splice, Spare Trace or Splice.
L. Bicycle type wheels are not allowed. Traditional wood or metal wheels are recommended.
Pneumatic tires on automobile or heavy duty spoke wheels, such as those used on
motorcycles, are acceptable.

These are in addition to those Rules of the Upper Midwest Endurance and Competitive Riders Association.

As this sport evolves in the Midwest, we always want to keep in mind that the safety of horses, drivers & grooms and volunteers is of the utmost importance. All competitors should be treated in an equitable and impartial manner to provide a fair competition. The event should be a pleasant experience for horses, riders and volunteers.

1. Divisions

A. Entries will be divided into Single Horse and Multiple Horses – regardless of the age of the driver.  Amended for 2014 – If only one pair at an event, singles and pairs will be treated as a single division.

B. Junior Drivers under 14 must be accompanied by an adult, 18 or older, in the carriage from start to finish who will assume full responsibility of the turnout.

2. Rules for Drivers

A. The driver must have a whip within reach at all times while in the cart, but not during the pre and post drive veterinary exams.

B.  Breeching or a brake is required unless using a racing type harness employing “quick hitch” couplers, which attach the shafts of the cart directly to the saddle pad of the harness.  This type of racing harness may only be used with a light weight two-wheeled cart. The driver must affirm to ride management via the Safety Check that the horse is accustomed to the harness and cart configuration on hills and rough terrain.

C.  It is the responsibility of the driver to allow sufficient time at the Safety Check to complete the inspection and make any necessary adjustments prior to the start time. Ride management has authority to disqualify a competitor if the horse, vehicle or harness is deemed unsafe.  Entry fees will be refunded.

3. Guidelines for drivers

  1. Often drivers share the trail with ridden horses that may be frightened by the appearance and sound of a horse and cart.  In the interest of safety the driver should pull over and stop when meeting riders.  The driver should stand his horse as quiet as possible while talking to the riders and allowing them to decide how to safely pass.  When approaching riders from the rear, the driver should call out to them and get their input on how to safely pass them.
  2. Drivers are often confronted with hills and other conditions where heavy pulling or braking is necessary.    Through proper harnessing the driver can give the horse as much advantage as possible.
    • The proper adjustment of the hip straps places the breeching (just below the big part of the butt) neither too high nor too low.  The proper adjustment of the hold back straps can eliminate a sloppy fitting breeching and will reduce the possibility of the cart or breeching banging  into the horse when stopping or going down hill.  A properly adjusted breeching will allow the fingers of both hands to be inserted between the horse and the breeching when the traces are in draught (approximately 1 inch).
    • Overchecks hinder the horse from naturally lowering its head when pulling through heavy sand, mud, or up hills and should be avoided.
  3. Nosebands are recommended for bridles with blinkers to help hold the blinkers in place.
  4. A kicking (bucking) strap may be used at the driver’s discretion.  If a kicking strap is used it should be properly fitted to effectively thwart unwanted behavior.  It should pass over the rump just behind the highest point of the rump and be tight enough to allow no more than one hand width (3 to 4 inches) of slack above the hip.  It should be attached in such a manner as to prevent slipping backwards toward the tail but should have freedom to move from side to side without pulling on the crupper.

Guidelines for Drive/Ride Managers

4.  Year End Awards

MDDA presents Year-end Awards for “Competitive” and “Restricted Mileage” competitors based on points earned by finishing drives.  “Competitive” includes all distances at all events. “Restricted Mileage” is for driver/horses who complete less than 100 miles in a season and is designed to accommodate equines whose size, age, experience or condition may prohibit competition at the longer distances.  Awards include Champion and Reserve Champion horse and driver combination in single and pairs for Competitive and Restricted Mileage. The MDDA Board may recognize additional placings in both Competitive and Restricted Mileage. Each horse and driver combination must complete at least five drives to be eligible for Competitive awards and three drives for the Restricted Mileage. (The Restricted Mileage category replaced the Limited Distance category in 2016.)

MDDA also recognizes new drivers with the high point Rookie horse and driver award for single and pairs. A Rookie must complete at least 3 drives during one season to be eligible. The MDDA Board may recognize additional rookie placings. Rookie status is retained only until the driver has completed 3 or more drives in a year.

Often ‘fun’ recognition awards may be presented.

MDDA members, who are also members of the Upper Midwest Endurance & Competitive Riders Association (UMECRA), are eligible for similar awards from that organization. (Note: There is one division for all drivers competing for UMECRA awards.)

8 comments to Rules

  • IcePonyGirl


    Can I ask, why you do not have size divisions? Such as VSE and Pony?

    • Jac

      Maybe someone can give a better answer, but my understanding is that UMECRA didn’t want to get into a situation that would complicate laying out courses. (UMECRA is an organization of Ride Managers.)
      MDDA created a ‘limited distance’ category for those equines that are unable to compete at longer distances because of size, age or other reason.
      We’ve had several VSE and ponies compete. I personally competed with an 11 hand pony who was Champion LD one year. Distances for LD are typically 10 miles. There is at least one event that offers a 6 mile drive which is an excellent distance for VSE.

  • Jeanne White

    From the UMECRA rule book:
    “If boots, bandages,or wraps are used, the horse shall be penalized two points per leg per day.

    Boots and their permanent attachments designed to protect the sole of the hoof are permitted, and shall not be penalized.

    The judges may request to observe the area covered by the attached strap, keeper or gaiter at any time. If boots are not declared, see (H)”

    I take this to mean that if I use EasyBoots or Cavallos or whatever other kind of hoof boot that may have retention bits that extend above the coronary band, I don’t have to declare “boots” unless I put a bell boot over the hoof boot?
    (I took 4 points for “boots” on Saturday at Iron Oak that I really shouldn’t have, in that case, but no big deal to me, as I had a great time and achieved my personal goal of making it “around” in the allowed time:>)

    • Jac

      I haven’t participated for years so I’m no longer certain about how this rule is interpreted, but I believe you are correct.

      I used to use Old Mac’s and was not penalized. (They are bulky and extend above the coronary band.)

      Perhaps Tony Troyer can shed some light on this?

  • Jac

    Jeanne, I don’t know the answer to your question, but have submitted it to Dr. Wesley Elford. I’ll post his answer when received.

  • Jeanne White

    From UMECRA Rules –
    ” 5
    F. Horses must not be under the influence of drug
    s, medications or stimulants, and may be
    subject to drug analysis. ”

    Is there a list of prohibited or controlled drugs? I typically give my haflinger omeprazole before trailering to keep her tummy happy (for whatever reason, trailering clearly stresses her). Is this permitted or do I need to find a more “natural” approach (like papaya mush/Stomach Soother)?

    • Jac

      Here is the reply from Wes:

      Jaccque, The UMECRA rule is what it is. I don’t know if there has been any thought to change it because the AERC has changed things some. The issue is that AERC has nothing to do with drive and comp. There is no budget set aside for drug testing in UMECRA so I don’t think that there will be any testing but hat isn’t the problem–we don’t want to break the rules. So if the person is doing comp of driving they have to go with nothing. If they are doing LD or Endurance they can go to the AERC web site and look up rule 13 and the list is associated with that. They have not yet changed the rule officially but it was voted on at the mid year meeting to approve the use of omeprazole (Ulcergard) during competition. So it will be proper to use that starting the 2015 season, but not right now. So she should try something else for right now and wait till next year to start with the omeprazole. Wes

      • Jac

        Not the answer you were looking for.

        On the other hand, maybe the natural treatments will work. If so, great!

        If it were me and my horse really needed the medication for trailering, I think I would continue to use it and risk being disqualified. I suspect little chance of it actually being monitored, unless I started talking about it.

        To my thinking, my horse’s well being is more important than getting a completion. After all, it’s not a performance enhancing drug which would be violating the spirit of the rule.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>