From Endurance to Dressage
Newt is fixed and good to go. You might remember that Newt, my "new truck," went to the shop on Friday to fix an issue with the front end and steering. I dropped Newt off in the morning before Ford opened and braced myself for the call letting me know they couldn't find anything. To my surprise, I got a call that morning letting me know that the technicians were working on the steering issue. A full inspection had been performed, including a road test, and it had been determined that Newt's steering stabilizer was worn. The Steering Linkage Damper needed to be replaced.
A short time later, Ford called me back letting me know Newt was ready to be picked up. Frankly, I was dumfounded. I had done a Google search on the issue and was fully prepared for a month-long fight. Instead, Ford's service department admitted that it was a known problem and even though Newt is just outside of the original warranty at 38,000 miles, all of the work was performed at no charge.
As I ended the call, I let out a deep breath and felt the tension leave my shoulders. I had traded in my 19 year old Blue Truck because I was worried about surprise mechanical issues, and here I was dealing with the very thing I was hoping to avoid. Ford came through though and solved the problem in just a few short hours. My fingers are crossed that Newt got rid of its bug and will be road worthy for the next decade at least.
After a week on GastroElm, Izzy seems almost back to his usual self. He was on UlcerGard for ten days without a whole lot of improvement, but after just a handful of days on the GastroElm, he bounced back like nothing had happened. Again, I can't say whether it was just the GastroElm or a combination of the two things, but man, does he feel good.
Every day that I went out last week I noticed some additional way he was feeling better. The first thing that he started doing was trotting up to the fence for a treat, something he hadn't been doing over the past month. I also saw him playing around with Speedy, rearing up and "fighting" over the fence. On Wednesday he actually galloped around his field racing my dogs up and down the fence line.
He's no longer sensitive to grooming, and I tested him by using firm pressure. He never even flicked an ear my way. His appetite is also improved, and the shortness in his left hind is fading. The only sign that things aren't 100% is the slightly loose poop piles. He doesn't have diarrhea, but his piles aren't exactly well formed either. I'll continue to "activate" the GastroElm by mixing it with water before topdressing his feed for the rest of the week. Once his poop piles firm back up, I'll just top dress his feed without activating it. I also plan to keep feeding it as part of his daily routine. I think he needs it.
Only horse people get excited by a good pile of well formed poop balls.
First of all, Happy New Year! Like every other Earthling, my wish for the new year is peace and good health for everyone; let's get the world's train back on track.
I don't know about your long weekend, but mine was jam packed, starting with some much needed work on Newt and my trailer. Early in November, Izzy and I had that horrible ride that nearly killed us both. At the time, I made the deduction that the propane tank's bracket broke creating a terrible vibration in my truck when the tank hit the ground. It was a theory that seemed the most likely explanation for what happened. Last week while hauling home from a lesson at Symphony Dressage Stables, I felt the vibration a second time, but this time it was worse, and no propane tank was involved.
I was on the phone with my mom when the vibration started. I apologized and told her I had to go as there was something wrong with my truck. I hung up and pulled to the side of the highway - not much safer than the pullover in November. I checked all eight tires and underneath the truck and trailer, but everything appeared normal. Once I was back on the road, I called my mom back to tell her I was okay.
My mom is not like most moms. She's a good mechanic, and she's incredibly handy with all sorts of power tools. Whenever she comes to visit, I always have little projects around the house she helps me fix. I told her I was okay and things seemed to be working normally. Even so, she begged me to get my truck checked out. My mom knows what's "normal," so I knew her warning came from experience.
Since the vibrations have only happened while hauling the trailer, I decided to have the trailer checked out first. I suspected something in my trailer's wheels might be sticking and dragging. Wheel bearings are something that are supposed to be done with a certain degree of regularity. This is embarrassing to admit as I really like to keep my vehicles well-maintained, but in the fifteen or so years that I've owned this trailer, I've never had the bearings repacked. It's not that I didn't want to, it's just that this trailer rarely ever sits for more than a few weeks, so I just didn't think it was really necessary.
I scheduled an appointment with my guys over at Pensinger's. If you're local, you'll know that this is the place for trailer and RV repair. These guys are honest, and they do a great job. When I pulled in, I explained what had happened. They didn't think the vibrations were caused by my trailer, but they agreed to check it out. I also showed them where my propane tank's strap had broken, so they also agreed to check all of the fittings and add a new strap.
As we were looking at the trailer, I realized that I had a very flat tire. Not just low, but pancake flat. I had checked the tires a few days prior, so the flat probably happened on the way home from the lesson. Pensinger's doesn't do tire repair, but they agreed to swap out the flat for my spare which would enable me to get the trailer to my tire guys.
Later that afternoon, Pensinger's called and said my trailer was ready. They had repacked the bearings - but they were actually in good condition. They also checked my brakes which were also in great shape. They looked over all of the fittings for my propane tank and declared it safe for use. They added a new strap and sent me on my way. I pulled out of their lot and drove the few miles to the tire shop.
The guys at Les Schwab are always respectful and never treat me derisively even though my mechanical knowledge includes descriptive words like freaked me out, really loud, scary, can you write you that down?, and wow, you're really strong. They fixed the flat - the tire had a hole the diameter of a pencil. The bolt I had run over had fallen out leaving a pretty big hole. They put the repaired tire back on my trailer, checked the tire pressure on the rest of the tires, and replaced the spare.
When I explained the vibration that I had felt, the guys knew exactly what it was. They jacked up the front of the truck and did a front end inspection noting that the track bar and drag link had some movement where there shouldn't be movement. It's not good news, but at least the truck is under an extended warranty. The problem is that it's one of those issues that doesn't have a clear cut solution. It's "safe" to drive, but it does need to be fixed before the front end wobble gets worse. I have an appointment with Ford's service department on Friday.
Thursday was a long day. I connected and disconnected the truck and trailer four times in one day. I drove the combo to two different service departments for several repairs and inspections, but when you have big "toys," they have to be safe. I was grateful that the guys worked so quickly to get everything done for me because on Friday, I had planned to drive to the desert to ride with my friend Wendy.
More on that trip tomorrow.
I took Izzy to a two-day USDF show this past weekend, and I mean it literally when I say we didn't die. Most of the time we mean we made it though the show without anything too terrible happening. I cannot say that about this little adventure. And before I go on, it is OKAY to laugh. When I called my parents to tell them about it, we were laughing hysterically. My husband, not so much.
I should preface this by telling you that one of my greatest fears is being stuck on the side of a busy highway with a problem I can't solve.
The trip from Bakersfield to Santa Barbara while hauling a trailer is nearly three hours. It involves driving down the valley on Interstate 5, one of California's busiest freeways. From there I take the 126, much less busy, but still four lanes. The last highway is Interstate 101, another very busy freeway that runs from San Diego to the top of Washington state.
Shortly after leaving the valley and beginning the long pull up and over the Grapevine - the section of I5 that includes the pass, the front end of my truck began to vibrate and stutter fairly violently. So violently, that I immediately took my foot off the gas and began to look for a place to pull over. That particular stretch of I5 is pretty sketchy as the cars are on the left, and the two right hand lanes are usually a long train of semi trucks crawling up over the pass. There really isn't a place to pull over.
Each time I attempted to come back up to speed, the truck would vibrate and shake. Eventually I was able to creep over into the far right hand lane, and suddenly the vibration disappeared. I called my husband and asked for advice. He of course freaked out - he hates that I travel alone. His advice was to turn around and come home which I immediately ignored. The vibrating had stopped by then, so I kept my speed at 50 and decided to pull off at an upcoming rest area to check things out.
I parked in one of the trucking lanes and quickly jumped out looking for a flat tire. All of my tires were good, and Izzy was standing in the trailer looking at me as if to say what?. I got back in and adjusted my trailer brakes up and down thinking maybe they were sticking. I continued on without anything else happening other than an occasional small vibration, but nothing like the violent shaking from earlier.
I drove on for another hour and a half and was nearly to Santa Barbara when several vehicles passed me honking and waving for me to pull over. I looked in my mirrors and couldn't see anything wrong, but I trusted that something was making folks flag me down. Again, there wasn't much of a shoulder, but I spotted a small space between the freeway and the lane that was merging on. I pulled into that spot.
With my heart pounding in terror, remember, this is one of my greatest fears, I plastered myself to the side of the truck as I tried not to get hit by the cars whizzing by me just feet away. I didn't see a flat tire, but when I looked closer, I saw that my propane tank was underneath my trailer attached with only the rubber hose! The metal bracket that held it to the trailer had snapped. I reached under the trailer to drag it out, but it was wedged too firmly for me to shake it loose.
As I struggled with the tank worried about the cars flying by me just feet away, I heard something, and turned to see a masked man who pushed me out of the way of traffic. Really, he was like a masked Batman. He jerked the tank free and asked me for a wrench to disconnect it. In a daze - where had this masked crusader come from? I unlocked my trailer door and pulled out my tool kit. He grabbed a wrench, disconnected the tank from the trailer, and then asked for something to tie down the loose hose. I found some zip ties which he used to secure everything. He put the damaged tank in my truck bed, and before I could really thank him, he went jogging off down the side of the freeway to his parked car.
Inside the living quarters of my trailer, it looked as though a tornado had struck. The cabinet doors were all hanging open, and everything was strewn about the floor. The vibrations I had felt earlier must have been even stronger in the trailer. Izzy must have had a rough ride. I wasn't able to do anything about it sitting on the side of the highway, so I locked the door and ran back to my truck. The show grounds were less than 15 minutes away, so it seemed much safer to deal with things there.
I checked in, and drove to my assigned barn. I unloaded everything, tucked Izzy into his stall, and drove around to the trailer parking area. I didn't want to do it, but I knew my husband was worried. I wanted to tell him that I had discovered the cause of the vibration, but the problem was that I knew he'd be even more concerned because I now had a very full and very damaged propane tank sitting in the back of my truck next to a gas can and a generator.
I gave him a call. He was even more freaked out than before. I knew he wasn't mad at me, but his concern always involves a lot of yelling. He made me PROMISE that I would get rid of the tank IMMEDIATELY. I don't know about you, but I wasn't quite sure what to do with that tank.
After trying several non-emergency numbers, I finally gave up and dialed 911. The dispatcher thought that situation was an emergency and took down all of my location information. She advised me to turn on my hazards and wait for the fire department to arrive.
The SBFD deserves a huge shoutout. That truck showed up within five minutes, lights flashing, and burly firemen ready to assist. I explained, tearfully - by this point I was a bundle of nerves with tears leaking out, what had happened. Those three fire fighters were amazing. They listened carefully and then inspected everything while I stood back. They looked at the tank and decided that since they couldn't smell any gas leaking, there wasn't any immediate risk of all of us being blown up. They decided that letting the gas out was the safest option.
While the gas was being dispelled into the air, they examined the broken bracket and offered some suggestions for getting it fixed. They waited around with me for about 30 minutes as the tank slowly drained (It took several hours to drain completely.). I thanked them profusely and apologized repeatedly for being the lady with a cat stuck in the tree. They never laughed at me though and treated me with nothing but respect and kindness.
Truthfully, it really was a dangerous situation that could have ended very, very badly. My husband and I later joked that the metal on that tank must have been two inches thick. Had it been punctured and had it sparked, we really could have died. But, we didn't. The rest of the weekend didn't get any better, but we didn't die, so there's that.
Stay tuned for more tomorrow.
I love having my own horse trailer, truly I do. It's not cheap keeping it up though. In August I bought new tires. That was a quick $891 gone. That's the price of nearly two shows, a lot of lessons, board for a month and a half, six months of farrier work, or a lot of beet pulp. Over the weekend I bought new batteries. Between the two batteries, I shelled out $300. That too is the price of a few lessons or several pairs of new breeches.
I don't remember how long ago it was that I last purchased batteries, but it was at least six years ago. They were due. My trailer has living quarters which means the batteries are used primarily for "living" as opposed to just turning on the lights and fans in the horse box. For the last couple of shows, I've been relying on the generator for simple tasks like turning on the lights and running water to brush my teeth, take a shower, and flush the toilet.
My first living quarters trailer was stolen, which is how I ended up with this one. Unlike the first trailer, this one runs on two parallel batteries which gives me the same voltage but double the power. I love the extra "juice," but it does come at a price. The batteries, as powerful as they are, only run 12 volt appliances. They can't charge my phone or laptop which is why I also carry a generator. The bonus is that the generator also charges my trailer's batteries.
The thing with 12 volt appliances is that they don't work with just the generator; they need the power to come through the 12 volt batteries. This means that I have to bring the generator AND the dead batteries, and in order to turn on a light, the generator has to be running to give a charge to the dead batteries. It's a bit of a pain which is why I finally went and bought new batteries.
Since I don't want to run the generator all night, the other device I use is a solar charger that my husband bought for me. I charge it at home, and then I leave it on my trailer's wheel well or some other place that gets direct sunlight most of the day. At night, I plug in my phone, and by morning it's fully charged. When I run the generator in the evening, I also recharge the solar charger.
There is actually more. In order to keep my trailer's batteries charged while not in use, I employ a Battery Tender. This device charges the batteries and then maintains the charge without over charging them. I have three of them - we used to have quads, but this weekend I discovered that two of them don't seem to be working anymore. I have ordered a new, more powerful model.
Not only is maintaining a trailer expensive, it requires a lot of "supplements." When I bring the generator and the solar charger, I have to bring all sorts of cables and plug ends so that everything runs. Sometimes, I think it's an awful lot of work just to have a phone and be able to take a shower.
First World problems ...
While I love Newt, my new truck, driving her around every day is a big pain in the butt. There are parking lots that I simply cannot squeeze her into. Most parking lots in fact. She also consumes a lot of fuel. Juke was much more fun to drive, and I could park that thing ANYWHERE. The thing with being tiny and fuel efficient though is that you're, well tiny. Tiny meant going to the feed store took a lot of planning because nothing but me and the feed were going to fit.
Newt's not tiny, and anything I can think of buying fits with no trouble. I didn't realize how used to "planning" I was until this weekend when I suddenly decided to go to both the feed store and the grocery store on my way home from the barn. With Juke, there simply wasn't room for a few bags of beet pulp, rice bran, shavings, and a loaf of bread. Forget two cases of water, some Gatorade, a watermelon, and a week's worth of meal ingredients.
As I was leaving the ranch, I started making a list of where I wanted to go but hit a mental roadblock with a big STOP sign when I added in the grocery store. Then I remembered that I was basically driving around something the size of an aircraft carrier and gleefully realized that all the stuff fits. All of it! And then some.
I may hate walking from the very end of the parking lot or from the other side of the street, but I sure do love having all of that room. I also love the huge fuel tank and all the towing power that comes with such a big truck.
Newt may be an expensive daily driver, but she's got her uses. I think I'll keep her.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
3/6-7 El Sueño (***)
4/17-18 El Sueño (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read