Quick rundown of the trailering, which I was so worried about. It was not without incident, but in general went well.
I trailered two horses, who will be known as Big Mare and Little Paint. I’d been in agonies for weeks beforehand about whether Big Mare would fit in my not-huge trailer, given that Tristan can flip his head and lift his front legs and nearly hit the ceiling, and he is teensy.
Big Mare did indeed fit, just barely. I’m not sure she was wild about it – rolled her eyes and planted her feet a bit when it came time to reload at King Oak – but she was not scraping the ceiling, and we got the butt bar done up. Little Paint jumped right on.
About 40 minutes into the trip, I looked in my rearview mirror – as I do very frequently when trailering; I can see horse’s heads and the hay bag through the front window of the trailer – and noticed I couldn’t see Little Paint’s head. Just withers with some sticky-up mane. Well, okay. “H.,” I said, “I can’t see your horse’s head.” H. looked. She was not concerned, and it was entirely possible he was stretching out behind the hay bag, or even snoozing.
20 minutes later, still can’t see his head. Call E., Big Mare’s owner, who is following us; she doesn’t have a good enough view inside the trailer to tell either way. I make the executive decision to pull over, though H. is still unconcerned. We find a Wal-Mart parking lot, jump out, and…Little Paint has somehow put his head UNDER the chest bar. (H. didn’t tie him very tightly at all, apparently?)
Bless the Little Paint’s brain, because he was just standing, perfectly calmly, waiting for someone to rescue him. So we did – unhooked the chest bar, and he lifted his head and started attacking the hay bag.
Continued on totally without incident (unless you count being behind a big Econo van with literally some person’s entire worldly possessions strapped very precariously to the top, and clothes flying off of it with every gust of wind, oh my god) and arrived at King Oak.
Unloading was another small piece of excitement…H. did not unhook Little Paint’s trailer tie. He very politely told her so, twice, and on the third try shrugged, stepped back, felt resistance, and did what any sensible horse does in that situation, ie panicked. Popped the leather crownpiece of the halter and came flying out. I reached up, put my hand over his nose as he skidded out, turned him toward me and pulled his nose down, and he heaved a big sigh of relief and stood beautifully to get a new halter on. Seriously, what a great brain he has.
Saturday morning we arrived at the showgrounds to find it POURING rain, and I made perhaps my best decision of the weekend: hooked up the truck immediately and pulled it forward from its overnight parking space so that the entire rig was pointing downhill. At the end of the day, we loaded up the horses (neither was wild about getting back on, but they both did quite nicely after lodging a short, polite formal protest) and tried to get out of the field (which was now a muddy pit).
The only, only thing I would change about my truck is to make it a four wheel drive. It’s one of my big anxieties about trailering, getting stuck. And yes, King Oak already had the tractor out and ready, anticipating just my situation, but – still. So I built up some momentum, crested the hill with the truck, alllllmost crested with the trailer…and skidded out.
Okay. Back down the hill, then back up the hill so we’re pointing downhill again, then more momentum, and this time I’m anticipating the mud even more so I start jigging the steering wheel juuuuuust slightly so we’re not going in a straight line, and the truck diiiiiiigs in and there was a split second where everything felt greasy and then, breakthrough. It’s a difficult feeling to describe, but I can feel, through the seat and through the gas pedal, when the truck starts to get some bite. And once I felt that, even though we were still wiggling, even though the truck was snarling and spewing smoke, even though we had attracted at least 20 bystanders and no doubt some event organizers a bit peeved about what I was doing to their field – I was no longer worried. We inched up and then made it.
The ride home was totally uneventful, we were all chatty and giddy and happy in the end-of-event exhaustion. When we got back to the barn I pulled the truck up and left it while I rode Tristan. They cleaned my trailer out I think better than I EVER have, and I popped it into a perfect parking space on the second try.
So: trailering anxieties are not disappeared, but they are seriously diminished.