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 ...