The Wagon Wheel Teamsters will be hitching up their horses, ponies and mules for the 40th Annual trail ride on Sept 24th and 25th, 2016.  Curtis and Kathy Noll will be hosting this year’s ride on the family farm in Alma, WI.

The driving club started with some local teamsters getting together to enjoy the hills and backroads of our beautiful Buffalo County at a slower pace while enjoying and sharing their passion for equines and driving them.  Through these years our family has been actively involved.  David and I both grew up on the Belvidere Ridge above Cochrane, WI and trail riding was a family activity.  In the mid-seventies my Dad, Mike Passow bought his first draft team.  We then became interested in driving because it was hard to ride horses with the younger children and driving would allow the whole family to come along. All of our grandparents worked with horses on their farms so it was natural to follow in their footsteps.   David got his grandfather’s harness and collars out of storage and we went from being “outriders” to teamsters!  Within a short time and with the help of my Dad, our riding horses Tomak and Major became our first team.  For several years we drove my brother’s draft cross team Dolly and Bell.  In 1995 we purchased our draft mule team, Molly and Jack and we quickly learned there is a difference between horses and mules.   Our family has made many good memories over the years. We also survived sleigh tip overs, runaways, bad weather and sliding down muddy dug ways. As we ride along the backroads I can’t help but marvel at the courage of the pioneers as they traveled across this great country with everything that they owned in the back of a wagon.  I always share that with the grandchildren and other riders on the wagon while emphasizing that we would be walking and not riding!

The knowledge and stories that the older, experienced teamsters have shared through the years was welcomed. And even though many are not with us anymore the memories and knowledge are. When my Dad was still driving his team, “Duke and King” we had four generations on our wagon rides. There are fond memories and along with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren we remember him hauling manure, planting corn and helping with threshing oats. The older grandchildren learned how to drive with Mom’s pony team and were able to bring friends along.  People always enjoyed watching my Dad and his team back the trail wagon into the horse trailer at the end of a ride.

My parents hosted the first Wagon Wheel Teamsters overnight trail ride in 1976 and it became an annual event. In the earlier years the club had one-day rides, rode in parades, gave wagon rides at local events and some did weddings. Now, President David W. Fetting and Sec. Treas. Curtis Noll alternate hosting the fall trail ride.  Vice-president Lyle Bartsh and his friends have put on Friday night fish fries. The host family prepares Sat. supper, Sunday breakfast and lunch.  We try to travel about 10 to 12 miles a day.

For the Wagon Wheel Teamsters trail ride to be successful we depend on the generosity of landowners who allow us to travel through their property.  The club is dedicated to the support of our county 4-H Equine project.  They have purchased horse pen gates at the fair, a display case for the horse barn, sponsored trophies and door prizes, provided driving books and donated towards the purchase of the equine project’s storage trailer.

The Wagon Wheel Teamsters driving club has provided many family memories and I am looking forward to our 40th weekend trail ride.  We can reminisce, visit with fellow teamsters and enjoy life at a slower pace with the kids and grandkids.   I am hoping that future generations will be able to continue this family tradition.

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