Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

One Good Blow

Eventually, borrowing and renting horse trailers wasn’t enough. I wanted, my very own. I needed, my very own. There were places to go, things to do, and a horse trailer was the way to achieve that.
Future hubby and I, began to keep our eyes open, for something suitable. The options were pretty well wide open, as future hubby was a true, Mister Fix it. Not only could he give any trailer a thorough inspection, he absolutely could repair all and anything it might need. New wasn’t at all necessary, it simply had to be something we could work with.
We were out for a casual drive one fine, sunny Sunday, when we spied a strong possibility. There at the end of a driveway was a small, stock trailer. Now this had instant appeal, for many reasons. At six foot six, it was certainly tall enough, to be comfortable for the horses. Yet not so tall that it would catch too much wind, and be like pulling a billboard down the road. Sure, another inch or three would have been nice to have, but isn’t it always? The trailer had the usual back gate with a small, escape door in it (that had to go), as well as escape doors halfway along the driver’s side, and near the front of the passenger side. Though the back gate would be better without the little, escape gate that was built into it, the other two really appealed to me. With an escape door, big enough to walk a compliant horse out of, it was set to handle an emergency. I couldn’t imagine such an emergency, nor did I want to visualize one, but it was great to be prepared. After all, everyone knows that if you prepare for the ‘just in case’ times, they actually won’t happen. Most importantly of all, the trailer had enough room for four average horses or, if we had the need, fewer horses but room for feed, which is also handy. We negotiated a fair price, and the trailer was ours.
Hardly wasting a single minute, future hubby got to work. After making sure to re-inspect the floor, he found that it was in great shape, thank goodness, so there was no need to change it. I had heard enough horror stories, of horses breaking through and losing a hoof, to scare the bejeebers out of me. I never, wanted to experience such a horrendous thing myself. As with every horse trailer I had ever borrowed or used, the floor would be cleaned with every use. Nothing would be left to rot the wood. The back door was changed to a solid one, with the very top portion, fitted with a flip-down section. This provided air flow on the highway, or when parked on hot days. Chrome vents went into the front on each side for added airflow. The dividing gate came out, and a solid divider was fitted into the front half of the trailer, while a removeable divider on tracks, went into the back. This made the trailer more multipurpose. With the back open, it could accommodate a lawn tractor, building supplies, or anything else that was a bit on the wide or bulky side. All in all, a smaller yet still roomy, stock trailer was pretty much perfect for our needs.
When the man I later married, put his mind to something, he was like a Bulldog locked onto a bone. He didn’t let go, or give up either. Every spare minute, of which there are few, if you own and repair your own gravel truck. We had a charity ride that we really wanted to go to, the following weekend, and darned if he didn’t have all repairs, modifications, changes and even new paint done.
Early that Saturday morning, we loaded Star and Higgins in the front two stalls, and Thow-ra into the back, driver’s side. We still had one more horse to load, Sara, my good buddy Del’s, ‘new to him’ Thoroughbred mare. None of us really knew much about her, as Del hadn’t owned her very long, but he’d been out riding in the pits behind his home, and on the Floodway without any issues. She seemed to be what he wanted, a horse with common sense, and ability to lean towards sport.
It wasn’t very far at all to drive to his place, and soon we had Sara loaded up as well. Because we automatically load heaviest horses to the driver’s side, Thow-ra had come out, and Sara put in her place. Thow-ra now occupied the position of last horse loaded, at the back passenger side of the trailer. We had done this, because as truckers, we were always mindful of these little nuances others may deem unnecessary. As it worked out, it was a most fortuitous decision.
I think it’s important to note that, Sara was not only a Thoroughbred off the track, she had also had a brief career as a polo pony. I didn’t go along with Del, when he went and tried her out, but we all wondered why she had unusual scarring along her topside. At different points, that horse had a scar atop her head, on her withers, mid-back, the highest point of her croup, and even the dock of her tail. It was a puzzlement, we were about to learn the answer to.
We had to travel over an hour, to get to the ride we wanted to participate in. Less than halfway, we had the Floodway bridge behind us, and had crossed the Lockport bridge that spanned the mighty Red River. Barely a few minutes further along, the drive suddenly went from peacefully typical, to anything but. There was a horrible ruckus coming from the trailer. It’s tires, were actually bouncing off the road! Future hubby pulled over and stopped as quickly as was possible, without doing so too fast. We had no idea what was going on, but certainly didn’t need to throw horses off balance and cause injuries. The second the truck stopped, we were bailing out, to see what was going on.
What was going on was, Sara had kicked that new, heavy steel door, right off the trailer, seemingly with the first good blow! It was lying on the road, in front of Del’s parents car. They told us, it had suddenly come sailing off the trailer. Thankfully, they had been following far enough behind, and it hadn’t hit them.
Standing there assessing the situation, one I had never dealt with before, I could see we had a huge problem on our hands. Despite the whole, back door being completely gone, Sara was still completely panicked. She was bucking without reason, or anything that remotely resembled sanity. Why she didn’t simply try to back out, I’ll never know, but it was a darn good thing she didn’t, as she was still tied. If she had tried to back out, she surely would have gotten her back legs under the trailer. Such a thing, would’ve surely spelled the end for her. If we opened the small, human escape door by her head, she tried to come through it. Somehow, some way, we had to get a lead on her, and try to pull or persuade her, to get off the trailer, but how? There was no way to get to her head, except by way of that very tiny, escape door.
It was an incredibly stressful thing to watch and sort out, yet it could’ve been far worse. Thankfully, the rest of the horses were beyond sensible. Thow-ra was being battered by the divider that had succumbed to the violence and was now off its track and hanging loose. Star was as far forward as she could go, her chest against the manger, back end tucked in. Higgins was also as far forward as he could get, and had moved over against the side. Not a single one of our horses, even as much as threatened to kick or misbehave. They all quietly waited in that melee of ruckus, for the craziness to stop.
The safety features that had attracted me to the trailer, now had the chance to come into play. Higgins was unloaded through the large, escape door at the front passenger side, most appreciatively, I might add, Thow-ra was calmly walked forward then out the escape door as well, despite the beating she was taking from the divider. Only Star was trapped right where she was. Eyes wide, she just stood there, all tucked into herself.
The whole time, all of this was going on, Sara continued to act like a deranged lunatic, oblivious to all but the obvious fact that she wanted out. It was perfectly clear, what was going on with her. That poor horse was claustrophobic. We were incredibly lucky to have loaded her, into the stall position we had. Were ever so fortunate that the other horses remained completely calm and obedient. They didn’t react at all badly, not even once, and we didn’t even want to contemplate how bad it would have been, if a horse had stood behind her.
All we had to do now was, get her off the trailer and back home … somehow.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB