Thursday, July 29, 2010

Trucks and Trailers and How They Evolve

My husband and I were proud owners of a new F-150 4-speed pickup when I bought my first horse.  
I remember taking our truck into the shop to be wired for a brake controller, etc. 

Our good friends had an old Miley straight load two-horse trailer and were generous about letting us borrow it.  We eventually purchased it from them.

With our truck set up and the two horse straight load Miley trailer, we soon acquired another horse.  Summer came and it was time to hit the road.  What better place to go with our horses then to Cabin Creek on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass.

The plan was for me to take Friday off and our daughter and I would haul the horses up to the cabin.  My husband would join us when he got off work.

I recall my husband taking me for a driving lesson the night before our trip.  I drove all over the place pulling the little red trailer.  He had me park, back, and unhitch/re-hitch the trailer.

The next day our daughter and I were out on the road early, horses loaded in the trailer.  With the dog and cat in the cab of the truck, along with all the things one "thinks" they need to take when they go on vacation, we were really loaded down.  I recall my husband telling me to be careful, that everything he loved was in my hands.

Things went pretty good until we started to climb up Snoqualmie Pass.  I found our truck having trouble keeping up with traffic.  I shifted down to third gear, but eventually I had to put it into second.  I stayed in the right lane, not pushing the truck but waving and smiling to those who passed us.  So very slowly, we reached the Summit and headed down the other side.

But going down the other side had its own challenges.  Although I had my new trailer brakes, as I found my speed picking up and I could feel the trailer start to sway, even though my husband had put on the sway bars.  

I recalled my horseshoer's advice to look way ahead of where I was going.  And I did just that, breaking ahead of corners, etc.  I kept remembering my husband's comment that everything he loved was in my hands.  My palms were sweaty and my mouth was dry.

We eventually arrived at Cabin Creek, almost an hour later than usual.  When my husband arrived that night driving my car I was happy to swap keys with him and let him drive the truck and little trailer back home.

We shortly purchased another horse when our daughter wanted to participate in 4H.  We now had three horses.  Our daughter and I set out to find a local barn and trainer that would allow us to haul in so she could take lessons. 

This started a routine of our daughter and I hauling her horse to weekly lessons.  But our little F-150 was having a tough time keeping up so we sold it and purchased a used  F-250.  I loved that truck.  I spent a lot of time driving it and pulling the little red trailer...but fuel consumption....ugh, it was bad, real bad.

We now had a good sized truck, three horses and a two horse trailer.  We wanted to take all the horses with us to our cabin on vacation.  Plus our daughter was doing a lot of horse shows.

We felt the need not only for a larger trailer, but one with a good sized tack room so she could change, etc.  So off we went to (sadly because we loved it) trade in our little red trailer for a brand new three-horse slant with a good sized tack room. 

We did a lot of hauling to lessons with the F-250 and the three-horse slant.  Our daughter and I had the process down.  We could hook up the trailer and load her horse in record time, reload him and haul him home, put the trailer away and be in the house in time for dinner and homework.  Here are the two of us right before hooking up the truck for a lesson.

But something was missing and when my husband's sister and brother-in-law moved to California, we inherited....A Camper.  With it riding on our F-250, my husband and daughter were able to go to weekend shows the night before.  The camper reduced the stress of getting up early and having to haul to a show in the wee hours.  We could haul in the night before; have a relaxing evening and day at the show.  Many were the times we ate our lunch in the camper and my husband watched football games!  It was really relaxing.

It was an older camper and needed a lot of work.  So we sold it and upgraded to a newer camper with air conditioning, etc.  Now we ate in the coolness of the summer heat.  The new camper had a shower, etc.  Life was good, except (be forewarned) it's not a slide out and the bathroom is very small.

With the camper on the truck, pulling a fully loaded 3-horse slant (to help out kids who needed a ride to a show), we were tapping out the maximum weight we could pull.  Even with sway bars on the trailer, the swaying I encountered when going down a hill on a highway when I was hauling 3 large horses and 5 excited kids terrified me.

So.....we sold the F-250 and bought a new, one-ton, fully decked out, dually Dodge Laramie that ran on diesel instead of gas.  We now had the truck and trailer for any event with the mileage to cover it. 
OH MY GOODNESS!  How did we get here!!!!!

Is this like boats?  Does one start with a small boat and then upgrade to a bigger one?

Today we have a new dilemma.  With two (huge) Belgian Draft horses and one saddle horse (with a plan to add another saddle horse down the road), our three-horse trailer is too small to haul everybody to the cabin.  So we are talking about a larger horse trailer...

        Hmmm.  I'm thinking we might need to take a look at a larger, gooseneck trailer.

                   ....Living quarters would be nice.

                             ....Maybe a fireplace?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Road I've Traveled

Since I left 50+Horses in April, I've traveled many roads.

I moved my blog to because I wanted to open it up to more then 50+ people.  In that blog you will read about Champ and my experiences at ground work and how I earned his respect.

But I feel I missed the mark on my decision to move my blog and surely have missed my 50+ readers.  So I've returned and will not stray again.

Things between Champ and I had been rocky since winter.  I found ground work was the key to earning his respect and earn it I did.  As a result things were going well for us.  We had bonded to the point that he tried whenever I asked, even if I asked wrong.  He also started to anticipate what I asked, to the degree that I only had to think and he knew what I wanted.  After a year of ups and downs, we were on our way to being a team.

I'd replaced Cisco, the horse I lost in January to Colic with an older, sweet and mild Appaloosa named Poco, whom I purchased last month.  My intentions were to keep him here at home so I could ride when I wanted and have a horse for my friends to join me when I rode Champ.

So it was heartbreaking when two weeks after my purchase of Poco that Champ got sick with an impaction and bladder infection.  Which came first?  They both seemed to appear at the same time.

Thanks to barn pals and my family, we walked Champ for almost two days straight as well as pumping IV's into him numerous times.  The impaction started to move but the bladder infection didn't respond to any medications, and we tried many.

No matter what we did, things didn't get better.  Seven days later, with Champ in misery and the Vet's prognosis of a tumor in the bladder, we made the heart wrenching decision on June 29th to put Champ down.  I still can see them leading him from his stall and hear myself sobbing so hard I thought I'd throw up.

As grateful as we are for Poco, today my family is still in mourning.  Champ was a huge part of our lives.  He is missed.

Poco now resides in Champ's stall.  An older, mellow horse, I will learn what I can from him and down the road I hope to find another horse, perhaps one of Champ's siblings.  That would be a horse with bling, younger, that's versitile enough so that I can try different disciplines with him.  And crazy as it sounds, maybe a horse that challenges me a little bit.

As my husband said, "You've become the rider you've always wanted to be."  I owe that to Champ but know that to remain that rider I will need to push my envelope to retain the ability.