A barn friend and I are planning on hauling out to the GMHA Fall Foliage Ride this weekend. The last time Tristan got on a trailer was for his surgery, and the barn friend is leasing a new horse and had never seen him load. So I brought my truck out to the barn, hitched up the trailer, and we worked on loading with both of them.
Okay, so it’s more like midsummer checkup, but still: yesterday, I went through the first aid kit that I keep in the trailer. It’s a fairly obsessive kit, because my theory is that while I’m at the barn, I can find just about anything I need or run out to buy it posthaste. If I’m out on the road, who knows where I might be or what I might find?
I keep it in this tupperware box, which is about 12″x9″ – pretty decent size. It’s not packed to the gills. First up was going through the checklist that lives with the kit itself.
Sadly, because I’m a loser, this checklist is left over from the last time I went through the kit, and is no longer accurate. So I just checked again and made additional notes.
Missing this time: two rolls of vetwrap, the lube, the 60cc syringe, the scissors from the suture kit (huh?), the tube of banamine, one of the two pens, one of the two bags of electrolytes.
The antibiotic ointment had expired, as had the saline solution. I threw away the antibiotic ointment but saline solution doesn’t really expire, thanks marketing guys.
I tested the flashlight batteries and the in in the pen, then the thermometer – I stuck it into my armpit. I once nailed some Pony Clubbers on their horse management inspection because while they had a digital thermometer, the batteries were dead. Since then, I’ve been very careful about checking my own during these inspections, because: karma.
Some things I decided not to replace: the second pen, the second roll of tape, the scissors, and the second dose of electrolytes.
Some things I replaced right away: I had already replaced the banamine and just kept it in my main tack trunk, so I transferred that over to the kit. I have enough leftover vet wrap to cover my entire horse head to tail, so it was easy to grab two rolls out and get them to the kit.
I stopped by Walmart on the way home and bought more lube (which necessitated a fair bit of considering time in front of the personal pleasure section at Walmart while wearing my breeches, earning me more than a few sideways looks), a tube of antibiotic ointment, and one addition to the kit: a travel size tube of antibacterial hand wash.
I am not a big believer in the stuff on a daily basis, but I’ve seen how effective it can be around the barn for biosecurity. Every new horse gets a quarantine stall and a big pump jug of the stuff on the door. Our barn is an interesting confluence of several circumstances – rural area with a few other not-great barns nearby, super-fancy and $$$ horses in for training or sales all the time, one or two pregnant mares or new babies at all times, and a very particular ban manager. It’s really great, but it does mean there’s a higher level of care taken about that sort of thing.
Today, I stopped by Tractor Supply and picked up another 60cc syringe with catheter tip. Pre-surgery, I had a half dozen of these around; during Tristan’s rehab, one after another succumbed to broken parts, staining from betadine, or just plain old got lost. Time to re-up.
All I have left to do is update the inventory list and the emergency contact information inside (new barn, need to add the fiance since he would probably care if something terrible happened).
Most of us have been somewhere with our horse, whether its camping, a trail ride, a horse show or just moving them to another barn. Like most things with horses, sometimes success is just a measure of trial and error. What is your best tip for traveling with horses?
Sunday: gorgeous sunny day, blue sky, light breeze. We went for a 2 mile hack up and down the road with a friend who’s conditioning her new horse. I thought about going up and down the hayfield hill for some additional work, but the trainer was showing a sales horse in the outdoor arena and a galloping mustang probably would’ve been more excitement than they really needed.
So I untacked and decided to do a bath. I rinsed, and I shampooed, and I rinsed, and I did conditioner, and I rinsed…and then realized I had been scrubbing and bathing for a solid hour and poor Tristan was shivering a little bit.
I promptly felt like the world’s worst mom: cold well water, a wash stall in the shade outside, a light breeze, and his flanks were quivering on and off. I scraped off all the excess water and brought him out into the sunshine. He stopped shivering and was perfectly happy to handgraze.
I spent the next two hours worrying about my stupid decision, because that’s what I do. When he wasn’t drying off as fast as I wanted in the sunshine – which kept going and coming as clouds passed over – I started layering coolers: irish knit on the bottom with a wool dress sheet/cooler on the top. Then I pulled the irish knit and we went back out into the sun for a while. Then I swapped the wool cooler for his rattier fleece cooler, cinched it around his stomach, threw him all the hay he could eat, and checked in with the trainer’s barn manager.
“Yeah, I thought you were being really brave!” she said. “It’s still pretty cool!”
Sigh. When I finally left, he had a strip down his belly that was still damp, and his legs were still slightly damp. His core had warmed up considerably, chest and sides were once again warm to the touch, and he was happily eating, drinking, and pooping. He’s fine today. HORSES.
In the in-between of everything, I hauled all the various storage things back up the hill to my trailer from where they’d been stored in my truck, in our apartment, in my other car…really a bit of everywhere. It was nice to get the trailer really swept out after the winter, go through all the bins and pull things that needed to be cleaned, discarded, or gone through. It looks great in there – and if I ever have time off and energy, we’re ready to go somewhere exciting!
This is by way of being a to-do list. I have been so overwhelmed these last two weeks – zero down time, zero reflection, and not nearly enough pony time.
I did have a lovely ride on Tuesday night, in which I confirmed again that the Pentosan = fantastic. He’s now finished his loading dose and is on to monthly, which means it’s time for me to turn the screws and see how long & deep the effects really go.
So, to do:
– check on trailer; is it done? will it cost me a mint? good thing I’ve been distracted, otherwise I would worry that the mechanic hasn’t called me in 2 weeks
– clean out truck, ffs
– organize trailer tack boxes
– organize tack room space, ugh
– deep-clean all purpose saddle, in order to use new conditioning lotion the saddle-fitter found for me
– write ALL the blog posts, including my shopping at Everything Equine & the awesome extreme trail class & some blog hop catch up
– look at schedule & see if it matches up with newly-discovered local horse club’s group trail rides
– call farrier; Tristan was re-shod in the front which was NOT the plan and now I am confused and a bit frustrated; poor communication + lack of follow up on my part, or an actual need?
This does not include the other things I have to do, like work on my conference proposal and get a dog license and clean out the fridge and and and.
Spring cleaning all around!
First, Sunday, the trailer went in to get inspected. It was an hour of highs and lows.
High: Hitched that sucker up on the second try. BOOM. I take a great deal of pride in my ability to handle my rig.
Low: The electrical socket on my hitch on the truck has rusted such that the plug for the trailer did not go in all the way. So the trailer brakes did not get power.
THAT WAS EXCITING.
Luckily, when planning for my rig I was very conservative: the truck can haul and stop the empty trailer under normal conditions. Which is what we had to do, over dirt roads, down steep hills, around a few tight corners, and then into the lot at the mechanic’s.
Saddle-fitting went exceptionally well. One of my favorite things about Vermont is how genuinely lovely all the horse people I’ve met are. My barn manager, trainer, farrier, vet, and now saddle fitter. We’d actually met some years ago, when I lived in Vermont before; she was the first person ever to fit Tris, and advised me to buy my jump saddle. So it was terrific to see her again and find she hadn’t changed at all.
\For the record: dose 3 of 4 of the Pentosan loading dose was today.
So: free admission up front that this is my fault. I got myself into this situation through a combination of neglect, laziness, and being broke. But getting my truck and trailer back on the road is proving an uphill battle. It’s one that I will win eventually! But man, is it frustrating in the interim.
Step 1: Re-registering the trailer.
When I moved to Vermont, I parked the trailer. I planned on registering and inspecting it in the spring – no worries! Then Tristan had surgery, and my attention was wholly taken up with his recovery and rehab. Before I knew it, it was late summer again, and there was no way he was ready to go do anything off property.
So, in short, the trailer has been sitting in the same field since November 2012. The registration had expired, and transferring it to Vermont required a) a VIN assignment (horse trailer rules, they are different everywhere, and the trailer is too old to have had a VIN previously), b) paying the sales tax on a trailer I bought eight years ago, THANKS VERMONT, and c) finally getting the registration current.
(when registering all vehicles in Vermont, if you have no proof that you have paid the sales tax, even if the vehicle is 30+ years old and you bought it many years ago, they require you to pay sales tax; in this case, they assigned a basic minimum value to the trailer of $200 and made me pay $12 sales tax, which was not quite enough to refuse in righteous fury but was still enough to be annoying)
All of this was accomplished in a joyful 90 minutes at the DMV last week. Good grief.
Step 2: Get the truck inspected.
No problem right? Except. With this horrible, awful winter, I did not get out as often as I should have to start the truck and run it for a bit to keep the battery primed. So it died. It really died. After a jump and 30 minutes of running it had no intention of starting again.
Not only that, but it was good and buried in a snowbank, which is not a problem of shoveling. The truck is a 2WD and does. not. do. snow. That’s why it sits in winter. But I had a suspicion that even if I could get a jump and start it in order to drive to the mechanic myself, it would never get out of its parking space.
So last night I called AAA, and they showed up with a very big flatbed tow truck and winched the truck out of its parking space and brought it to the mechanic. And I do mean winched it out: it turns out that the tires had been frozen in at least 4″ of ice, and in fact the winch dragged the tow truck back a few inches before the driver re-leveraged it. Holy crap. But eventually, the truck got on to the flat bed trailer, got to the mechanic.
Then it got inspected. Thankfully, it passed inspection with zero problems, just needed a new battery and oil change. GOOD TRUCK.
Step 3: Get the trailer inspected.
This will not happen until the snow melts in early April. There is quite simply no way the trailer is getting out of the snow bank until then. Not. Happening.
Of all the steps, I am dreading this one the most. The trailer has been sitting for nearly 18 months. It is an old trailer. At minimum, it needs the brakes and wheel bearings gone over, and most likely a new breakaway battery. I am worried about the tires, the floor, and the general health of the frame. I don’t know what Vermont requires for an inspection, and I can’t find that information online. I can’t figure out how much money to set aside to fix it – more than $1k? I hope not. I just don’t now. If it’s too much over $1k, I will have to make some serious decisions about the trailer’s future with me.