Friday 13 July 2012

Ahh, a horse trailer - parked on memory lane...

Wait a minute ... How hard could it have been to get Ms. V on the trailer - you obviously got her to Muddy View Acres without incidence just a few months ago (because surely if there had been a story to tell, Dressage Curmudgeon would have told it).

Yep, that is true.  She walked on and left her birth home without a second look.  So, one less familiar with horses (like, say, Mr. Motard) might expect that this would happen again.  And again, and again. And be totally perplexed when the horse suddenly grows roots.

In practice, though, we all know that this is rarely the case. 

There are different theories on this. 

One is that when a horse sees a trailer for the first time, it just looks like an elevated stall, and they figure "Hmm.. you REALLY want me to go in there?  Well, how bad can it be.  There is hay, and you seem to be shaking a pail of pellets.  What the hell".  And in they go.

It isn't until they actually start driving around and witness the horror of the creaking, rattling vibrating stall, that they realize it was a fairly stupid idea to step in, and commit to never doing it again.  Like me, and the Tequila shooters, back at South Residence.   

(If you have never ridden around in a horse trailer, you should give it a go.  It does make you wonder why a horse ever gets on there a second time.  Really it is a miracle). 

I have another theory - one that revolves around the concept that the personality of dogs and horses does begin to resemble that of their owners over time. 

And, if you know a bit about my history with horses and trailers and the combination of both - you would realize that giant glowing green waves of DANGER DANGER DANGER seem to eminate from me like bad gas whenever it is time to trailer a horse.  Wait - now that I think of it - I do actually get bad gas, accompanied by diarrhea, when I have to trailer a horse.  So maybe it is not just a "seeming" thing.

There are many times when the sayings "ignorance is bliss" and "you don't know what you don't know" are absolutely perfectly applicable when horses are concerned.  And trailering is most definitely one of those times.

But I did know what I knew.  And sure, I am pretty ignorant.  But not when it comes to this subject.  I knew what could happen... oh yes, I knew.

Picture if you can, for a moment, the life and times of the Curmudgeon family back in the 70's.  With our poor, horse trailering patriarch, Mr. Curmudgeon.

Mr. Curmudgeon.  (actual product may not be identical to image shown)

Unfortunately, back in the 70's, good fathers who knew absolutely nada about horses were nonetheless expected to hitch up spooky steel two horses to their Mercury Monarchs (until the transmissions got blown out, at which time they had to upgrade to monster woody Wagoneers like the one Skyler White drives on "Breaking Bad") and take their own little ponies, to little shows, to watch their little children cry after not winning pathetic little ribbons.  Good times!

Now, new millenium fathers typically just hand over big sums of cash to have all of this done by their child's smiling coach, (who drives a rig worth more than many people's homes in order to get the job done).  I am sure they have their problems too, but part of the fee involves keeping this all on the down-low, behind the scenes, medicating here and there as needed, and cleaning up any mess before the parents have a chance to notice.

But back in the day, all of this fell on the shoulders of our old school dads.  Together, they learned to link arms and took turns shoving each others evil ponies onto their spooky two horse trailers -  luckily, a determined 35 yr old man and another fatherly friend can pretty well pick up a 600lb, 13hh pony and lift the bugger off all four feet, so bad loading manners didn't really come into play as much as when the horse is 1000 lbs heavier.

They learned how to manoeuver their little rigs effortlessly, so that on the somewhat regular occasion when  a hot horse show twentysomething babe got her own rig hopelessly stuck in the mud or jacknifed, the horse show dads could spring into action and show off their backing-up, turning-around prowess, rescuing her and making waking up at 4:30 am almost worthwhile.

Really, they did remarkably well for people thrown into situations not of their own making, when they secretly would have rather spent the time and money golfing with friends.  Or anyone really. 

But what these Dads could not control, (much to the alarm of their children - who at the time, thought Dads could do it all and did not fully appreciate the unstoppable power of the stupidity of some equines) was what it is the evil little bastards did once the doors of the trailer were shut.  Or opened, really.  Because standing behind a pony and lifting its ass into a trailer while staying safely off to the side is one thing.  Seeing its flailing forelegs coming at your head, and getting hung up in the partition the second you open the front mandoor is entirely another.  Watching as a fleet of people armed with ropes and blindfolds and plenty of ACE arrive to help you to pry the pony out of the trailer without killing it is also entirely another. 

Or, driving home from a horse show with the pony scrambling like a mix master, yanking the entire Woody Wagoneer rig around on the road, with a car full of crying children would be another experience that a 70's Dad would not anticipate when looking at that shining Cherokee two horse in the Bahr's parking lot.  Once again, prying the pony out of the trailer, this time from beneath the partition instead of on top, would be an unexpected ...uh... adventure.

And these are the sorts of things that happened as we were growing up and transporting our ponies across Ontario.  I still have the mental scars. It got to the point where when we were pony shopping, the first question dad asked wasn't "is he sound" or "can he jump", but instead "can he stand on four fucking legs in a horse trailer without falling over or having a mental meltdown".

To make matters worse - Mr. Motard and I had a little trouble coming home from Cape Hatteras once upon a time...there was an incident involving a construction zone, a flat tire, decorative safety chains, and several hundreds of dollars worth of destroyed windsurfers.  Let's just say it did not build my "Trailering's FUN" confidence level. 

If you are wondering what Mr. Motard is saying, as I recall it was something along the lines of "oh, my love, I am so happy we are ok and no one was hurt".  No, wait... I am confused.. maybe it was  "Put that fucking camera down before I shove it up your ass".  
Now, I know there are adults out there who have had a horse for a total of  6 months, and a trailer for 6 weeks, who merrily proceed to load up old Trigger and ship the sucker all over hill and dale.  They stop for 4 course meals with cocktails here and there along the way, while Trigger munches hay peacefully in the parking lot. I envy these people.  I will never be one of these people.  Like I said - you don't know, what you don't know, and until Trigger decides to jump through that front window one day, the thought just doesn't occur to you that he ever might be stupid enough to do so.

I really do think I have made progress (more on this later, when I make a concerted effort to do so), however I think my nervous vibes did transfer to poor innocent Ms. V and freaked her out a bit.  That, and Grandpa MVA of course, who was a scary thing at the very best of times.


  1. I believe you just gave me post-traumatic recollections of hooves through windows and flagging down truckers to help pry horses out from under dividers. *shudder*

  2. Been there... Oh yeah. Ive been the in the car following and seen all kinds of OH NO! Before cell phones were popular had to do the drive up to the window an point and scream! Horror genre for the horsey people to be sure.

    Have watched the linking arms with yearlings that couldnt tie but we expected trailering?

    Have seen horses you couldnt keep in pens/stalls/paddocks because they were on 30 acres with no human involvment until three (usually wb's ... sorry folks... or mustangs lol)

    Have seen a ton of fun tied to the trailers at the shows too. Horses setting back and dragging trailers along,or just tearing the bejees out of it with their hooves and teeth.

    Brings new meaning to... He'll be fine lol

  3. Yep, that moment when you're in your car, leading your friend's non-horsey husband who is trailering your horse in a rented 2-horse straight load trailer, only to look in your rear-view mirror to see the trailer stopped and non-horsey husband standing outside scratching his head... and then notice your horse's leg sticking out the top front window.

    Then the next moment where you manage to extricate your horse from the window, unload and re-load him, only to have him jump into the manger (16.2hh and appx 1300 lbs) and go through it. Thank god I paid for the optional insurance at the trailer rental.

    Then comes the decision to call non-horsey husband's horsey wife, who somehow convinces a neighbour to watch her five children (the reason she was unable to pick up my horse herself and sent non-horsey husband instead) and drove out to help. We wound up having to haul my idiot horse facing the rear window with his head tied down between his legs so he didn't try to jump out the back.

    Oh yeah and that isn't even counting the time my older TB gelding fell and got wedged under the divider AND under my younger TB on our way to a horse show one day. I will never forget when I ran to get the show organizer (an old friend) and told him what had happened, he says "welp, here we go" and I was like that's the end of my trailer...

    I HATE hauling horses.

  4. Oh yes, happy memories of my Dad hauling my rickety 1 horse trailer behind his Cordoba (man they just don't make cars like that anymore do they?) We couldn't decifer the funny noise coming form behind one day, so we thoughtfully decided to take a look. Well, the back door/ramp had fallen down (darn those jury rigged diy latches) and the only thing between horsey and the road was a very thin chain. Thank God for Quarter horses!

    1. Wow, that's weird. I suddenly can hear Ricardo Montalban talking about fine corinthian leather in my head.

      RE: Funny noises - I once thought a helicopter was flying overhead on my way home from a show one day. For miles. I finally realized that the whup-whup-whup-whup sound was actually the last shreds of my beyond flat tire disintegrating off of the rim...Duhhh... thank god trailers have 4 tires.

  5. Horse trailering -- what memories. For years, I was dependent on the kindness of friends. Thankfully, I had this amazing QH who'd load on anything, day or night, rain or shine. He was my first horse, so I had no concept of the trailering treasure he was. A friend and I would go to shows together and her fancier horse would get loose after being tied to the trailer at the show. Whenever we heard someone bellow, "Horse loose," we knew exactly where to start our search grid. Since then, I've had I-will-never-get-on-that-thing "loaders" who'd rather drag you home than get on; a horse so big he barely fit in oversize trailers, but would get on with coaxing; and a mare who will wait you out if you lack patience, but who eventually sighs and walks on like you hadn't been standing there shaking feed for twenty minutes if you have patience.

    1. The butt high buggers may not be able to "sit" or "collect" to save their lives, but QH certianly do have their strenghts...

  6. Very funny! I had the door open on a stock trailer once while going to the vet's same thing, guy driving up beside me pointing, thought he was admiring my rig! stop go back door is open, never saw his eyes (Appyx) so big and scared as he was watching the pavement whizz by... then the memorable time I foolishly got in said stock trailer to re position our new horse who had never trailered so I could get my Appy in, big dummy turned against me and almost crushed me into the wall, thank god he respected a hard knee in the stomach.. gaa,, yea have a nice 2 horse and a great hauler now but hate when people always want me to bring there horse, who "loads perfectly, great in the trailer", well you know how that usually ends up.

  7. I'm not a trailering weenie, but the one incident that almost did me in was a 2yo stallion that pulled the tie ring loose, reared, fell over backwards, stood, and jumped out over the back door of a 2 horse straight load while going down the road. Knocked 2 teeth out and got a few scrapes. He was a trailer veteran at 2 and had "never had a problem".

    1. I once rode a Morgan gelding who pulled a similar stunt - he was forever after known as "Crash." He had a kind of derpy droopy lip afterwards to boot.

  8. Try borrowing your rich friends trailer, that rarely gets used but has prized place in her driveway, gets a weekly wash and vaccum inside and out (no seriously!) and kindly lends it & her matching Range Rover to transport your poorly 16hh WB yearling that has injured it's knee and needs surgery - then said yearling kicks seven shades of shit out of it, and headbutts dents into the sides for good measure. Have you ever been in a Range Rover while it bunny hopped down the road?! Not fun!!

    Never a lender nor borrower be.

  9. My horse decided sideways in the haybag/walkthrough area was the way to ride. Both chest bars were still up, head divider lifted off and "gently" (?) placed behind him against the driver side escape door, and him with hay bags at his feet and head craned into passenger side horse stall. Two cuts on his head, requiring just a few stitches each. Not lame, not sore, loaded up the next day no problem! I really wish I had video in the back!