A BRIEF HISTORY OF MHDA - Taken from Excerpts of “THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MID HUDSON DRIVING ASSOCIATION” by Hank Thoben
According to Hank Thoben, he purchased his first Morgan horse in 1971 and worked with Linda M Salwen from Rosendale, preparing horses for driving and showing; at times they discussed the possibility of starting a driving club. In 1974, Hank was invited by Victor Shone to the Fall Picnic Drive in Millbrook, where he saw so many people that were “into driving”. On December 19, 1974 17 people met at Linda Salwen’s house in Stone Ridge, NY; some of them were: Bill Costello, Peter Grant, Jim Hadley, Stan Hemingway, Dick Lahey, Louise Rappleyea, Eunice & Joey Shumalski, Carolyn & Richard Staley, and R Douglas Taylor, together with Hank Thoben.
That blustery, snowy evening the Mid Hudson Driving Association was born. The people who gathered at this first meeting were surprised and thrilled to discover that “… you drive 35 miles every Sunday too!” or “ …you collect and restore carriages too .. maybe you can help me locate some parts I need..” and so on. Thus the goals of the club were defined—this was to be a club for ALL driving enthusiasts regardless of breed, degree of experience or “depth of pocket”.
Plain and fancy turnouts were welcome or even none at all. Beginners and future hopefuls were to be encouraged, -- the club was to be a source of information – a place to exchange ideas, equipment and inspiration. The specific focus was to be on pleasure driving, carriage collection and restoration, parades and cavalcades, picnic drives, show driving, harness drill teams, combined driving events, roadstering and “anything else that related to driving that anyone can think of”. The overall focus was to be on fun--- the enjoyment of the great sport of driving, which can be shared by people of all degrees of expertise and experience. These original goals have not changed, but new ones are being realized.