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9th Annual Skunk River Horse Driving Trial (SRHDT)
June 25-26, 2011

Cathy Mueller and daughter, Mardy, Maple Plain, Minnesota, were late to the welcoming Friday night pizza party thrown by the Best of Iowa in Traces Society (BITS), sponsors of the Skunk River Driving Trial. "Omigosh!" Cathy exclaimed, "Merlin was just a mess! We couldn't do anything with him!" We should all have so much trouble; Cathy and Merlin drove a 38.15 dressage test the next morning in front of judge Muffy Seaton, Williston, South Carolina. The turnout went on to win the chair awarded for overall Training Level Champion.

Photos by D&G Photography. Used with permission.

Other notable dressage scores at the event, held June 25-26, 2011, at Three G Farms, Ames, Iowa, were BITS member Paul Degen's 37.19 in Prelim Single Horse with HH Moonshadow and BITS member Gene Rhinehart's 43.84 with Celtic in the first-ever Intermediate Division offered at the Skunk River.

Offering Intermediate meant having a second judge; we were pleased that John Greenall, West Windsor, Vermont, agreed to do the honors. He judged the Training and Prelim cones before moving over to the dressage arena for the Intermediate dressage tests.

On their way to the Training Division championship, Cathy Mueller won Training Single Pony.
They were followed closely by BITS member Anita Schlosser driving her new Morgan, Bambi.
Winning first in Training Single Horse was James Thomas, Oskaloosa, Kansas, driving his Morgan, Diamond.

BITS member Dale Watson, Ames, Iowa, placed second with his Morgan, Royal. (When handing out the ribbons on Sunday, Jada Neubauer noted that Dale and Royal cut their 2010 SRDT score in half!)

Winning the blue ribbon in Training VSE was Miranda Schoenecke, Lake Mills, Wisconsin.

Chad Rhinehart, Reedsberg, Wisconsin, drove his pair of VSEs to the blue ribbon in Training Multiples. Placing second was Douwe Plantinga from Mt. Vernon, Texas, driving a Friesian pair.

Dressage tests on Saturday were driven in everything from a light mist to a downpour. But the rainy weather did not stop 10-year-old Luke Dahlberg from driving his first-ever dressage test in competition and earning a respectable 57.93. Luke and his pony, Jesse James, from Solon Springs, Wisconsin, went on to win third place in the competitive Training Single Pony class.

Demi Anderson, Salem, Wisconsin, in her first-ever three-phase event, drove the best cones run in the Training Division.

Winning cones ribbons in their divisions were Paul Degen, Mason City, Iowa in Prelim and Pam Johnson, Pleasant Hill, Missouri, in Intermediate.

The three tandem competitors, (Candis Hankins, Superior, Wisconsin, and BITS member Jim Block, Minong Wisconsin, driving Preliminary, and Mark Dahlberg, Solon Springs, Wisconsin, driving Intermediate), along with the Single and Pairs Intermediate drivers, performed their tests in a 100 meter arena. Changing the dressage arena from an arena that is 40 x 80 meters to one that is 40 x 100 meters is done quickly and easily. The edge of the arena is a fringe of grass; to change from 80 to 100, the fringe of grass on either end of the 80-meter arena is mowed, both A and C are moved back 10 meters to a second fringe of grass, the M, F, H, and K markers are moved, and the S, R, V, and P markers are brought into place. The change from 80 to 100 meters takes about 20 minutes and is inexpensive . . . but only can occur once a year!

The weather on Sunday for the marathon was much better then that on Saturday. . . sunny, cool, with a slight breeze. Just right for driving the 7-kilometer course and the 7 hazards laid out by BITS members Randy Farwell and Earl W. Morris and their crew, and approved by Technical Delegate Wayne Kramer, Slaughter, Louisiana. Randy single-handedly built the new, permanent hazard, Hansen's Hill, dedicated to the memory of long-time BITS member, Bob Hansen. Using free utility poles (Utility crew member: You have any use for these 10 poles? Put them in the hay field; we'll think of something!) cut into 8-to-9 foot lengths, Randy set 13 of them in a pattern that offers many different options for flagging.

Lots of rain on part of the first cutting of hay at Three G Farms yielded nine round bales that will feed the neighbor' s cows this winter, after being used to make the gates for the Hickory Corners hazard.

To no one's surprise, BITS member Jada Neubauer had the lowest score in the preliminary marathon, turning in a stunning 40.77 driving her Connemara, Century Hills Kieron. (Jada and GS Thunderboy Henry burned up the marathon courses in the Advanced division at the three CDEs in Florida in 2011.)

BITS member Gene Rhinehart's 43.84 in the Intermediate marathon with his Friesian cross,

Celtic, was also no surprise . . . that turnout knows it way around a hazard or two. Both Jada, from Ames, Iowa, and Gene, from Ferguson, Iowa, went on to win their division championships.

BITS member Barbara Simmons, Bellevue, Nebraska, won the blue ribbon in Intermediate Pairs, driving her Morgans, Dexter and Ace.

BITS member Jim Block won the Preliminary Tandem blue ribbon with his Morgans Nikki, Jodee, and July, and BITS member Mickey Hansen, driving her VSE, Cody, won first place in Preliminary Combined Test. Winning a second blue ribbon was Gene Rhinehart driving wife Katy's Haflinger, Buck Naked! in Prelim Single Pony.

With 34 competitors from 10 different states, the 9th Annual Skunk River was judged a resounding success by officials, competitors, and the organizing committee. Plans are already underway for the 2012 Skunk River Driving Trial, when we will be celebrating its 10th year as one of the premier driving events in the Midwest.

SRHDT Sponsors

The members of the Best of Iowa in Traces Society (BITS) are grateful to the sponsors of the 2011 Skunk River Horse Driving Trial, who offered almost $2500 in cash plus good and services in support of the event. In alphabetical order, the sponsors are:

LuAnn Arney, Dorchester, Iowa

Tom and Deborah Bridges, Gibbons, Nebraska

Canterwood Farm, Leanne and Gerald Schwickerath, Newton, Iowa

Paul Degen and Sally Overturf, Mason City, Iowa

Dragon's Lair, Katy and Gene Rhinehart, Ferguson, Iowa

Electronic Engineering, Ames, Iowa

Gilbert Fire Department EMT, Gilbert, Iowa

Richard and Sheri Haviza, Whitewater, Wisconsin

H&R Friesians, Sharon and Rod Rucksdashel, Aplington, Iowa

Paula Hagen-Peterson, Elizabeth, Colorado

Mickey Hansen, West Liberty, Iowa

Helmuth Equine, Raymond Helmuth, Zearing, Iowa

Mike Hendricks, Farrier Service, Hubbard Iowa

Iowa Morgan Horse Association

Iowa Valley Carriage, Sandee McKee, Toledo, Iowa

Shirley Jensen, Audubon, Iowa

Key Cooperative, Gilbert, Iowa

Debra Knoll, Dallas Center, Iowa

Christina M. Loiacono, DVM, Boone, Iowa

Midwest Driving Company, Jada Neubauer, Ames, Iowa

Cathy Mueller, Maple Plain, Minnesota

Dennis Neubauer, Garden City, Iowa

Edna and Fred Oakley, Ashland, Missouri

Odden's Norwegian Fjord Horses, Phil Odden and Patti DeVault, Barronett, Wisconsin

Team Possum, Donna Crossman, Margot Ashley, Miranda Schoenecke, Lake Mills, Wisconsin

Ryerson's Implement, Nevada, Iowa

Anita Schlosser, Ames, Iowa

Steve and Valerie Siegel, Cheyenne, Wyoming

Barbara Simmons, Bellevue, Nebraska

Three G Farms Equine Center, Ames, Iowa

Donna Treiber, Danbury, Iowa

Woodpecker Woods, Kathy Johnson, Montrose, Minnesota

Wrightway Trailers, Sheryl Stillions, Hiawatha, Iowa

A huge THANK YOU to the people and the businesses for supporting us!!

2nd Annual BITS Summer Carriage Classic (BSCC)
August 27-28, 2011

Members of the Best of Iowa in Traces Society BITS) love obstacle classes, so it is no surprise that the BITS Summer Carriage Classic, held August 27-28, 2011, at the Hamilton County Fairground in Webster City, Iowa, featured lots of different ways to drive cones. Of course, we had the traditional ring classes: Working Pleasure, Turnout, and Reinsmanship. And the somewhat-traditional obstacle classes for the division championships: Pick Your Route, Timed Obstacles, and Pleasure Drive Pace. To this list, we added Double Jeopardy, Reverse Psychology, Gambler's Choice, and Cone Weaving. We thought (and we were right!) that many of the competitors would be BITS members, so we may as well do what we like to do!

Cone Weaving? What is Cone Weaving, I hear you cry. Think pole bending in western pleasure shows. Six cones in a straight line, with 24 feet between every two cones. The competitor enters through an in-gate, drives to the far end of the line of cones, weaves back through the six cones, turns around the last cone, weaves back, and then heads for the finish line. Fastest time (with no knockdowns) wins. Fun to watch a small pony in a two-wheeled vehicle (SL Rey, driven by BITS member Earl W. Morris, Ames, Iowa) run the pattern, as well as a draft cross put to a 4-wheeled vehicle (Miss Ruby, driven by Debra Sauer, Friendship, Wisconsin) both of whom were edged out by BITS member Jim Block, Minong, Wisconsin, driving his Morgan, July.

Deb Sauer and Miss Ruby were first in Gambler's Choice, racking up a whopping 205 points in their two minutes, 10 points ahead of their nearest competitors. Double Jeopardy is a favorite among the BITS members with the competitor, sitting on the right, driving pairs 1-10, then handing the reins to the person on the left, who drives pairs 10-1. The person on the left is a driver, of course, but often is not a competitor. So anything can happen.

Photos by Randy Farwell, Nancy Eich Kayser and Doug Martin. Used with permission.

This year, however, Double Jeopardy was won by two seasoned competitors, Jim Block and Jada Neubauer, Ames, IA driving Jim's horse, July.

Jada was a busy woman at the BSCC, competing with her own Connemara, Kieron, and riding with her 6-year-old daughter, Molly, driving a 28" VSE, Prince.

Molly and Abigail Simmons, Omaha, Nebraska, were the two competitors in the Junior Driver division. Abigail, 12, was twice as old a Molly, and her horse, Dexter, a Morgan owned by her grandmother, BITS member Barbara Simmons, was at least four times as big as Prince! Abigail also drove in Gambler's Choice (6th), Pick Your Route (4th), Double Jeopardy (2nd), and the Pleasure Drive Pace (2nd). These two juniors will be heard from in the years to come!

Her first place finish in the Pleasure Drive Pace, along with blue ribbons in Working Pleasure and Reinsmanship propelled BITS member Anita Schlosser, Ames, Iowa, and her Morgan, Bambi, to the Novice Driver Championship and the High Point Morgan Award, provided by the Iowa Morgan Horse Association.

Anita was joined in the championship circle by pleasure show veterans Deb Sauer (Open Horse) and Dr. Joan Kepros, Cresco, Iowa (Open Pony). Others taking home championship ribbons were BITS member Leanne Schwickerath, Newton, Iowa, (Multiples) and Abigail Simmons (Junior Driver).

Reserve Championship ribbons were won by BITS member Dale Watson, Ames, IA (Novice Driver), BITS member Jada Neubauer, Ames, Iowa (Open Horse), BITS member Earl W. Morris, Ames, Iowa (Open Pony), BITS member Molly Neubauer, Ames, Iowa (Junior Driver), and BITS member Randy Farwell, Boone, Iowa (Multiples).

Also participating in the Novice Driver classes were Robin Mathison, Canton, South Dakota, BITS member Edna Oakley, Ashland, Missouri, Jeff Hughes, Davenport, Iowa, and Terry Hooten, Waterville, Iowa.

Other drivers in Open Horse were Jim Thomas, Oskaloosa, Kansas, Dave Dunn, Shell Lake, Wisconsin, won won Turnout with his elegant new vehicle and was only two seconds off in the Pleasure Marathon Pace!

And BITS member Mickey Hansen, West Liberty, Iowa, competed in Open Pony with her VSE, Gem's Hot Commodity.

ITS member Katy Rhinehart, Ferguson, Iowa, designed all of the courses and even found time to drive her pony, Buck Naked! in a couple of the games.

And BSCC organizer Mary Winter even participated, driving Double Jeopardy with her husband, Earl W. Morris, and BITS member Christie Loiacono's pony, SL Rey.

The Second Annual BSCC has come and gone. The weather was almost perfect. Even the storm that threatened on Saturday spit rain over the lunch hour and then quit. The competitors were fun and flexible. And the BITS members were everywhere that they were needed: setting up and taking down stuff, timing events, and just generally keeping things on track. Officials Judge Susan Koso and Technical Delegate Deborah Bevan offered assistance in managing the show, and made terrific suggestions for the 2012 BITS Summer Carriage Classic. With the assistance of Holly Myers and her terrific crew at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds, we will be back next year!

BSCC Sponsors

The members of the Best of Iowa in Traces Society (BITS) are grateful to the sponsors of the 2011 BITS Summer Carriage Classic, who offered more than $500 in cash, plus good and services, in support of the event. In alphabetical order, the sponsors are:

Dick and Mary Loy Brown, Liberty, Missouri

Theresa Burns, Perry, Iowa

Casad Brothers Implement, Webster City, Iowa

Dragon's Lair Hats, Katy and Gene Rhinehart, Ferguson, Iowa

Dave Dunn, Shell Lake, Wisconsin

Electronic Engineering, Ames, Iowa

Valerie Herber, Wood River, Nebraska

Iowa Morgan Horse Association

Iowa Valley Carriage, Sandee McKee, Toledo, Iowa

Mike Hendricks, Farrier Service, Hubbard Iowa

Dr. Joan Kepros, Cresco, Iowa

Anita Schlosser, Ames, Iowa

Three G Farms Equine Center, Ames, Iowa

Woolstock Implement, Woolstock, Iowa

A huge THANK YOU to the people and the businesses for supporting us!!