(Horse) Road Trips

We had no sooner started to unpack and get the dogs and cats settled in when it was time to go back for the horses. And the horse trailer. And the horse carriage.

Bear, rear, and Chiko were road trip troopers.

Bear, rear, and Chiko were road-trip troopers.

So Matt and I left the farm and Rita, our pittie mix, in the hands of two college students, loaded up Chiko the Aussie terrier and Bear the toy poodle mix and off we went. The plan was for Matt to drive a UHaul that had the horse carriage and the rest of our lawn furniture and for my friend B and I to drive the truck pulling the horse trailer.

The geldings were at Cowboy Larry’s, a dear friend who for years has been our teacher and horse mentor, and Neela, my mare, was at CSU for the THIRD attempt to get her pregnant. And lo, third time was charm! I was a tad nervous about the new momma making such a long trip–three days in the trailer–but Neela is a pretty calm girl. The vet at CSU gave us regumate to give her every day, and we set off.

The route was: Colorado to Wyoming to Idaho to Oregon to Washington state.

We made it to Wyoming and blew a tire on the horse trailer.

We had just switched drivers–Matt needed a rest, so I took the UHaul and B took the wheel of the truck and trailer while Matt rode in the passenger side for a nap. I was a few car lengths behind them when suddenly I saw a rear tire on the trailer seemingly explode. Black chunks of tire flew everywhere. I shrieked. Neither B nor Matt apparently realized what happened, as the truck and trailer continued down the interstate, carrying a huge portion of my life with it.

There was too much traffic between us for me to catch them in the ponderously slow UHaul, so I grabbed my phone and, hands shaking, called B’s cell. No service! Curse you, T Mobil in Wyoming!

I then tried Matt’s cell, my hands shaking so badly I could hardly use the phone. He answered (apparently Wyoming has Verizon, which is our plan) and I took a breath so that I wouldn’t scream the words, trying to say as calmly as possible: “Pull over. You blew a tire.”

They were on the side of the road moments later, and within 30 minutes, the always-prepared Matt had changed the tire (yes, I timed him).

We kept the horses on the trailer, and other than Yukon protesting by stamping his massive hooves every few minutes they didn’t seem upset.  We pushed on, stopping for the night in Jerome, Idaho, where we turned the horses out at the fairgrounds corral. Amazingly enough, they stepped right back on the trailer the next morning like old circus ponies, no doubt thinking, “This is our life now, to ride in the box all day. Ah, well.”

Neela the mare says hello to me while we're in line for the ferry.

Neela the mare says hello to me while we’re in line for the ferry.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We got another flat in Anacortes as we headed to the ferry, but a quick trip to a tire store took care of it. We then lined up for the ferry and the horses got to experience the surreal situation of floating across the water.

Then we were home! We unloaded the horses and they calmly surveyed their new surroundings of the dry lot and the paddock and the pastures arrayed so temptingly on either side.

We threw them some hay, filled up their water trough and watched as they immediately got down to the business of eating, drinking and going to the bathroom. A lot. Like healthy horses do.

Whew.

A good sign of contentment: Neela and her yearling colt Quill engage in some mutual grooming.

A good sign of contentment: Now that they’re settled into their new home, Neela (in the back) and her yearling colt Quill engage in some mutual grooming.

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