Last weekend he showed up at the barn with two boxes in tow. To my surprise, and delight, he revealed that he had been to Camping World (still not sure why) and had bought me a small gift. Check it out!
I have the greatest husband. I fully acknowledge that he is extremely tolerant of my (completely obsessive) horsey life and even supports me in my endeavors, wherever they lead.
Last weekend he showed up at the barn with two boxes in tow. To my surprise, and delight, he revealed that he had been to Camping World (still not sure why) and had bought me a small gift. Check it out!
Yep. Hubby bought me wheel covers. Cool gift, huh?! This side of my truck and trailer gets a lot of sunlight which is hard on tires. The other side is fairly well shaded throughout the day. So now my tires will have a little sunscreen for this summer's heat. Thanks, Hubby! You're the best!
My truck is nearly always connected to the trailer since I have a more economical car for driving around town. In 2007, Hubby and I went on vacation. since we were going to be gone for two weeks, I used the truck to deliver my quad to the shop for some maintenance. I left my truck parked at home while the trailer remained at the barn and the quad stayed in the shop.
Near the end of our vacation, I got a call from the barn manager. My trailer was no longer in its parking spot. Had I let someone borrow it? Uh, no, I hadn't. From our hotel room, the sheriff's office and my insurance agent were notified of the theft. I was pretty angry and frustrated because there was nothing I could do about it, especially since we weren't even in California.
Fortunately, I didn't have any of my riding tack in the trailer, but it was filled with many other supplies: buckets, rakes, organizers, hay bags, dishes, bedding, etc. After the insurance claim was settled, I spent about $1,000 to resupply the new trailer with all that had been lost in the first one.
Once we returned home from our vacation, we pieced together what had happened. Since it was a gooseneck and not a bumper pull, the thief had come prepared; this wasn't a crime of opportunity. Not many trucks have a gooseneck hitch installed in their truck beds. We are fairly certain that someone scoped out the trailer in advance and realized that my truck was no longer parked in the way. Sometime during the night, the thief drove onto the property, passed by the five or six other trailers parked in the row, and hooked up mine. He simply drove away.
I spoke to the sheriff's office a few times, but they had no leads. They admitted that it was an unusual crime as the trailer would need to be registered at some point here in California. They felt certain it was on its way out of state.
My insurance agent, Michael Gipson of Farmers, was great. We've been with him since our early 20s so we already had a good relationship with him. He worked very quickly to get our claim processed so that I could replace the trailer.
Knowing that it was going to take months to get the whole thing sorted out, I started my search for a new trailer. Two-horse trailers with living quarters are not very common; we had special ordered the first one. Right away I discovered that I was probably going to have to get a three-horse which meant a lot more money.
The insurance claim was settled within about 30 days, much to my relief. The check they issued was enough to pay off the note on the first trailer, with enough left over to put a down payment on a new trailer. Much like the housing market, the price of trailers had also risen. My new trailer was going to cost almost $30,000. I found myself once again pondering how to pay for a trailer. The good news, if there was any, was that I no longer had a truck payment, and my financial situation was much improved.
I did have to finance the trailer, but this time, it was for 6 years with the plan to pay it off sooner if possible. And that brings us to March 28, 2013, five years and seven months later. I made the final payment in person because I wanted to walk out of the bank holding a piece of paper saying that nothing was owed on it. It felt really good to actually own my horse trailer.
It took 12 years and four months, but I am finally rid of trailer payments; what a relief. I hope I don't have to buy another trailer for a very, very long time! By the way, the new trailer stays hooked to the truck, and if I need the truck for something else, the trailer sports a substantial lock over the ball receiver - so far, so good!
If you're relatively new to my blog and want to see more pictures, check out this post and this one. I've also included a slide show of photos that I've shown before.
On March 28, 2013, I finally became the sole owner of a 27 foot, 3-horse, Silverlite horse trailer. No, no, no ... I haven't just gone out and bought a new trailer. I hope I don't have to do that again for a very, very long time. Nope, what I mean is that the bank no longer holds the title; I do. Well, I will as soon as the DMV gets their paperwork done and mails it to me. Let me start at the beginning ...
I've ridden my whole life; I don't remember my first ride. I don't even remember my tenth ride. My grandmother had horses, three of my uncles were farriers, and I rode my neighbor's horses until I finally got my own horse as a teenager.
Going places with my horses didn't happen very often as we didn't have a trailer, but it did happen. I went camping, trail riding, and even rode Sunshine in the rodeo parade. Each of those trips happened because someone else generously offered to bring my horse and me along.
I remember each of those trips with my horses very vividly. I adored driving down the road with a horse in tow. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. Whenever we were driving and a horse trailer went by, I gave it as long a look as I could before it was out of sight. Hubby even learned to point out trailers for me when we were first dating. I wanted a horse trailer in the worst way.
Fast forward a few years ...
After college I bought Sassy, but of course I had no way to get her home. I paid a driver to transport her across town to her new barn. While there, I soon met Jim who did have a trailer, several in fact. I spent the next five years bumming rides with him, my mentor MC, and later from my pal Taz's Mom.
Those were actually very helpful years. I learned how to load horses, keep them comfortable while traveling, and most importunely, how to keep them healthy while traveling. As an endurance rider, we traveled all over California (and even into Nevada) all of which gave me quite a thorough trailering education.
The problem with bumming rides was that I was always at the mercy of my driver. I went when they went and where they went. There were many times when I didn't get to go somewhere because no one else wanted to go.
In 2000, I was on track to place in the AERC Desert Southwest Region. I had done two hundred-milers earlier in the year, but needed one more to really guarantee myself a spot in the year-end point standings. Jim suggested I do the Swanton 100 up in the Santa Cruz area. With no trailer and no friends interested in going, I shrugged it off and hoped my points would hold up through the remainder of the season.
In June of that year, Hubby and I bought a truck suitable for hauling a trailer. We now had the truck, but no trailer. I decided to ask Taz's Mom if she would consider loaning us her horse trailer for the weekend. Friends do some pretty remarkable things; she and her husband graciously agreed to the loan. I share this because it was that trip that enabled me to get my first trailer.
We went to Santa Cruz to do the 100-miler, and Hubby offered to go as my crew. This particular 100-miler was a single loop trail which meant that the horse and rider never came back to camp for supplies, food, or water until the finish. Any items needed must be given to the rider while out on the trail or at the away vet checks. I am not sure Hubby knew quite what he was getting into.
For nearly 24 hours, he met me on the trail and at the vet checks. He brought me warmer clothes, fresh water bottles, and food. He provided hay and water for Montoya, brought a cooler for her while she ate, and held her while I made the occasional stop at the port-a-potty. We arrived back at camp at 5:00 a.m., vetted Montoya through, and tumbled into our sleeping bags which we had arranged in the back of the trailer.
Although we were both exhausted, neither of us could sleep; we were cold, uncomfortable, and aching. Hubby pointed out what a terrible experience it was. Having already competed for more than four seasons, I already knew how unpleasant endurance camping could be.
As we lay there, Hubby started talking about what kind of trailer we should get. Our plan was to buy a sensible two-horse much like the one we had borrowed. He began wondering what it would cost to upgrade to a gooseneck with a finished dressing room. He had seen those trailers that were carpeted and had room for a mattress in the trailer's neck. I quickly agreed that it was a good idea. He went on to add that a sink would also be nice for hand washing and teeth brushing. I couldn't agree more.
Two months later we went trailer shopping. We started out looking at the sensible two-horse trailers, but Hubby gave a quick look and kept on walking. We finally ended up looking at gooseneck trailers, but after calculating the price to customize a stock trailer, it seemed easier, and only slightly more expensive, to buy one with full living quarters.
At the time, we already had a hefty truck payment so a large trailer payment was out of the question. To lower the payment, we financed the trailer for twelve years. Today of course, we would do no such thing; we're far too conservative to finance anything for that long. But back then, we did what we could.
I drove the trailer home in November, and the next weekend, Hubby and I took it to the Sunland 50 for its first time out. As I showered at the end of the ride, Hubby asked if I was glad that he had thought to upgrade. I just smiled.
This should be the end of my story, but it is not. The trailer that I own today is not that cute two-horse with living quarters that I financed for twelve years back in 2000.
To be continued ...
White Birch Farm - Click to enlarge.
No, it's not cancelled! My times have changed slightly. I am actually riding at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and 10:45 a.m. on Sunday.
There are nine ride times for Saturday. The first is at 10:00 a.m. and the last begins at 4:45 p.m. On Sunday, the first rider will go at 10:00 a.m. with the last riding at 3:15 p.m.
Thank you all so much for the many kind and encouraging messages! Wow, what great people I find myself connected to. Not one person has suggested that I am in over my head! I can't wait to get going!
And it's a rain or shine deal; check out their covered arena pictured above. Nice, huh?!
I feel like I owe an explanation about my trailer pictures the other day. There were so many nice comments about the trailer itself. I hope, hope, hope, the pictures didn't come across as a "brag." My intention was to show that having a bigger trailer with living quarters is expensive and a LOT of extra work!
I never went to horse shows as a kid, and as an adult I've only been to dressage shows. I've been to three or four local h/j shows, but they're not rated and only attract local riders. My experience with traveling with my horse is essentially from competing in endurance races. I have only recently learned (over the last two years) that not everyone who competes has a trailer. It seems that many riders get to shows via their trainers.
Endurance riders drive all kinds of rigs. Some are small bumper pulls with a truck with an extended cab that serves as a sleeping area. Some riders make do with a tent. You will see every type of camper/trailer/tent that you can imagine. But the truth is, sleeping in your truck or tent really, really stinks. Any rider who plans to do endurance rides for any length of time eventually upgrades to something bigger.
Long time endurance riders have BIG trailers. Doing-it-forever endurance riders have BIG trucks that carry BIG campers. Some of them drive HUMONGOUS RVs that pull even BIGGER trailers. My rig was nothing fancy at an endurance ride. In fact, it was a little on the smallish side, at least out here in California.
One of Bakersfield's endurance families (Mom, Dad, two daughters) hauled a 4-horse living quarters trailer that was around 40 some odd feet! My trailer is barely 27 feet long. I once met a woman at a ride whose camper was big enough to host a party with at least ten people, and I am NOT exaggerating!
When my trailer is paid off, hopefully in the next three months, I promise to tell you how I went through TWO living quarters trailers. Believe it or not, I've never even owned a regular bumper pull!
As always, horses are expensive. Getting them somewhere, even more so!
The Christian Schacht Clinic is this weekend. I am riding at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday. I am both nervous and excited. I am excited for the obvious reasons: it's a clinic with a well-known trainer whom I have seen before and admire. I am nervous though because Speedy and I are pretty low level riders, and I really don't want to be embarrassed. We work very hard here at home, but no one else is going to know that. They're simply going to see an aging adult amateur on an average horse struggling with the basics.
It's too late to back out, and I wouldn't anyway. No matter how inexperienced we are, I am going down there as prepared as I can be: my farrier gave Speedy some sparkly new shoes yesterday, we have good fitting tack, and my pony is pretty darn likable. Our performance may not wow anybody, but I am hoping Speedy's charismatic personality will win them over!
On to the real point of this post. I haven't gone anywhere with the horses since October. Remember the dead battery from the other weekend? I decided that maybe I better give my trailer a once-over to be sure that it had weathered this cold snap without any surprises.
After I vacuumed the floor, I replaced my large outdoor floor mat and lawn chairs. I also bring an EZ-up if it's going to be hot, but that's stored in my garage. I need to load my generator, but I usually do that on the day I leave as I need to fill it with gas. For a quick one night trip, I'll only run the generator to charge my phone and maybe to watch a DVD on my laptop.
I am pretty sure that I'll be the only out-of-towner at this clinic which means I'll certainly be the only one staying over-night on the grounds. It can be a little intimidating to camp alone, but knowing Speedy is close by always makes me feel less "alone." I always get up in the night to check on him and without exception, he always looks for my arrival. Sometimes I even hang out in his stall with a glass of wine and just visit. I know he enjoys the company as much as I do.
If you're interested in seeing Christian Schacht work, we will be at White Birch Farm, 10680 Broadway Road, Moorpark, California.
Wouldn't you know it? I quit keeping track of what my ponies cost me and out of the blue my truck battery goes dead. I spent almost $150 to replace it on Sunday. Even though I am no longer keeping track, I am still a bit peeved about it. Crap. That's a lot of feed, lessons, vet care, shoes, etc.
Now, I say the battery went dead out of the blue, but that isn't quite the truth. It might have had something to with the fact that the battery is at least five years old and the truck hasn't been started since ... October? Really? Has it been that long? To be honest, I can't remember when I started up my truck last. I think I can safely say that the dead battery is really mostly my fault.
For weeks, okay, Dad, make that at least a month, I've been telling myself to go start the truck up. I leave my truck hooked up to my trailer, and both are parked at the barn. I nearly drove the wheels off the pair this last show season. We went to 13 shows and several other events over a nine month period. But after out last event, the ride-a-test, which was in October, I don't think I've taken the horses anywhere. And even before that, I had been noticing that it wasn't firing up as eagerly as it normally does.
I finally decided to give the truck a warm-up on Saturday morning. I was a bit puzzled that the clicker didn't work, and then I was slightly panicked because I wasn't sure how I would get the door open without the clicker, but then I remembered that I was holding the KEY in my hand, which SHOULD unlock the door. Sheesh! But seriously. Who unlocks a car door with a key anymore? I truly can't remember the last time I did THAT.
I finally figured out how to unlock a car door with a KEY and slid said key into the ignition. I gave it a quick turn and knew right away that my poor, neglected truck wasn't going anywhere. It was dead as a doornail. We tried jumper cables, but it was a wasted effort. On Sunday morning, I bought a new battery, and Hubby had it installed in I would say no time, but that would be a lie. The battery cables were so corroded that it took a monumental effort to remove them, clean them up, and then put in the new battery.
My trusty old truck fired right up once it had the proper juice. Hubby suggested I let it run awhile so I decided that it should probably be moved as well. I was about to drive around the block when I realized that the trailer was empty and the drive would be so much better if there was a horse involved. Speedy is an awesome loader and needs no additional practice. Sydney, on the other hand, is still a bit timid about loading so he got a quick lesson. I was quite pleased that he only needed about 30 seconds to be convinced that loading up was what I really wanted him to do. I dropped the window so he had a nice view, and then we drove around the block.
At least I know my truck will start up for this next show season. Now I need to get it gassed up, cleaned up, and ready to go to Ventura for the Christian Schacht Clinic in two weeks!
As I write this on Wednesday, it's a "chilly" 75℉ (24℃) which is 30 degrees cooler than a week ago at this same time. Thank goodness. With such cool weather, I was able to feed seven horses (fed for the neighbor), clean four stalls (twice!), ride three horses, fill 2 water troughs, bathe 1 horse, move sprinklers, clean the barn aisle, and putter around doing other odd jobs.
Tuesday was just as nice. After riding and doing barn chores, I decided to give the inside of my horse trailer a thorough scrubbing. On a hot day, it's like a sauna inside when you hose it out. With low temperatures and a cool breeze, it's almost like visiting a water park. Almost. I wish I had thought to take before photos, but alas, I didn't. I would have been embarrassed to show them any way.
Speedy is a messy traveler. He breathes/sneezes a constant stream of wetness against the front window and partition which subsequently gets grossly crusty. He also loves to poop in the trailer, and it ALWAYS hits the wall and STICKS. I keep shavings on my trailer floor which help absorb some of the moisture and prevent the floor from becoming slippery, but it's hard to clean out every single poop ball which means there are always a few floating around in the shavings. Speedy is also a sloppy eater so there is also loose hay mixed around in the poop infused shavings. Add some summer time dust, and you have a pretty good mess.
I emptied the tack room, swept out the shavings, and armed myself with a scrub brush and a nozzle sprayer set to jet. Here are some after photos.
I just realized there are some confusing elements in this photo that beg an explanation.
The water tank: I haven't used it in a long time, but I don't have anywhere else to store it. Speedy travels on this side of the partition so it's no big deal. When I bring more than one horse, I remove the water tank so that a horse can travel in that stall.
The door next to the water tank: that's a pass through door which leads to the living quarters. It's one of my favorite features of the trailer. There's a screen on the other side which allows good ventilation to pass through the living quarters. It's also handy when camping; muddy/dirty shoes, folding chairs, ice chest, and jackets can be stored in the horse compartment without taking up space or stinking up the living quarters.
Where's the other divider?: I took out the second divider long ago. 99% of the time, I bring only one horse at a time. Without the divider there, he has a lot more room while traveling. Back when I was using two horses at a time for endurance riding, they traveled quite happily side-by-side in the double stall while the first stall was used for the water tank and a hay bale.
What's that above the middle window?: The rectangular thing is a light, and the black lumps are the mounting bolts for the Hi-Tie. The bolts don't stick out that far, but I wanted to be really careful. They're covered with heavy duty foam and Gorilla Tape. They're actually no longer than the receiver bolt for the missing divider seen in the center of the photo.
I love having a clean trailer; I just wish it would stay that way! I'll add fresh shavings before Sunday's show and I've already put my regular stuff back in the tack room.
If you want to see more pictures of the trailer or read more about trailering, I've written a small series on safety and so on. You can find those posts at this link.
Tobias: our little puppy is no longer little, but he is doing great. He made it through the Parvovirus and has finished nearly all of his vaccinations. In two weeks he gets his rattle snake booster, his dew claws removed, and he gets neutered. He'll be six months old.
It is ridiculously hard to take a picture of him because he's either got his crazy on, or he's sleeping and looks dead. Here's a super quick video from last weekend.
California Barn Life: It's been kind of hot lately. Last Sunday, the temperature was around 110℉ (43℃), depending on where you live in Bakersfield. Thankfully the temperatures are heading way south of normal. The next five days should hover around the high 80s.
The heat has been a bit of a pain because I've been on poop patrol for the last two days. I start by dragging the sprinklers out to the arena. While they're going, I clean stalls and spray down the barn aisle. Once the stalls are clean, I saddle up horse number one. Before I can actually ride though, I have to go and turn the sprinklers off and recoil the hoses. By the time I actually get on, I'm a bit wilted.
This is just practice for July when I will be doing poop patrol/barn duty for two solid weeks. Toughen up, Sweaney!
Trailering: I forgot to mention that as I was coming home from the Clovis show a few weeks ago, I noticed that my truck was handling really poorly. I knew it had to do with the tire rotation. I took it in to the tire shop on Monday morning and was horrified to see the reason for the rough ride. Chunks of tread were missing from one of the front tires and the others had weird bulges and cracks. Yikes!
The tires had fewer than 12,000 miles on them, but they were at least seven years old. Trailering tip ... keep a better eye on your tires, and drive the posted speed limit. The technician said that had I been speeding, I would probably have had a blowout. Needless to say, I now have a new set of tires. That's going to raise my spending total for next month - better that than a blowout.
Showing: Speedy and I are heading to a show on Sunday where we'll continue showing T1 and T2. We have good times (10:32 and 11:08). The show is in Tehachapi which is only a little over an hour away. I can sleep in a bit, and we'll be home in plenty of time for dinner.
Like I said - just a little of this and that. That's all!
Question: How does preparing for a show end up costing almost $200 BEFORE the show entry is even completed?
Answer: look closely at your trailer! Yep. I needed a trailer repair.
I am doing my first two-day show at the end of the end of the month, and I plan on using the RV camping option at the show grounds. I used to camp in my trailer at least once a month. Now, not so much. I use it a lot to haul to one-day shows or other events, but the last time I actually slept in it was June of 2010. I haven't turned on the water pump, heater, or stove top in quite a long time. I am not sure I even remember how to get the refrigerator going. So on Saturday, I decided that the trailer needed an overhaul. I started out by checking on my water pump which hasn't been that dependable over the last couple of years. And ... it was a good thing I did. I got a lot whirring, clunking, humming sounds, but no water. I put in a call to Camping World and lucked into a same-day service appointment.
After an hour and a half wait and a payment of $191.94, my water pump was finally working (it was replaced). I brought the trailer home to finish my overhaul. The batteries were placed on the Battery Tender (a device that keeps them charged and ready) and the empty propane tank was removed and set aside. It will get replaced at Home Depot in the next day or so. I then removed the bedding and chucked it into the washer. I oiled wood, vacuumed, mopped, and scrubbed every square inch of the interior. Four hours and 200 bucks later, my trailer is nearly ready for an over-night stay. That pesky propane tank is the last thing that needs to be addressed before I'll be ready to go.
I was planning on going to the Santa Barbara show, but I changed my mind when I realized that I would be there all alone. I've done many endurance rides alone, but I almost always ran into familiar faces at ride camp so it wasn't truly a solitaire experience. I found out that Bakersfield's other dressage riders will be doing the show at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. It's not that I need to pal around with anyone, but it would be nice to see a familiar face, especially when it's a two-day affair. So I am going to LAEC instead of Santa Barbara.
I am really excited about the show, and not just for the riding part. I love horse camping! It is so much fun to load up all of the "toys" that make camping so much fun. I am one of those everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of campers. I love using my hay bale bags, muck buckets, folding chairs, Eazy-Up, and other gizmos. I'll be sure to keep you up to date on my packing and planning. For now, here are some photos of the overhaul:
... said by a rider who recently forgot all of her clothes, boots, and helmet while heading to a "show." That is so not going to happen again. Click photos for larger view and captions.
My trailer's coat closet has been the home of spare towels, jackets, and winter gloves. It is now the permanent home of my show helmet and show tub (which stores breeches, stock tie, etc.). Those items used to be stored at home in a closet. But after last Saturday's S.N.A.F.U. (this is an acronym for those who don't know), I think the trailer's closet is a better place to keep them. My dressage boots, show coat, and show shirts will remain at home. Hopefully they won't be forgotten again.
My trailer's "sofa," also known as a boot box, has always housed a couple of flashlights, tool kit, the trailer's dining table, a lap blanket, fire extinguisher, and a ratty pair of Ariat Terrain boots. You can now find two old pair of half chaps as well.
Speedy's show pad has also been tossed up on the bed where it will rest in its plastic zippered case. And while this has nothing to do with being prepared, I know some of you are craning your necks for a peek at the rest of the trailer. So here are some other photos (slideshow) of the inside. Enjoy!