Friday, July 11, 2008

Peace of mind

Long-time readers of this blog will remember the stories about wildfires that have come close, but never “hook up the horse trailer and get the heck out of here” close. I do have an evacuation plan ready to implement, but ever since I adopted the burros, it has contained one potentially fatal flaw - I would have to make two trips out to the highway to evacuate all four boys in my two-horse trailer.

A few months ago, I decided to stop agonizing and just get a bigger trailer. I don’t know what the market is for horse trailers in your area, but I can tell you that in New Mexico, used horse trailers in good condition are few and far between. All I wanted was a plain-Jane trailer in good condition, big enough to hold two horses and two little burros. Was that too much to ask? Apparently so.

I finally saw an ad for a trailer that might work and drove all the way to Santa Fe today to see it. The owner said the trailer was in great condition, even though it was a 1990 vintage; the tires had many miles left on them, and maybe one or two floor boards would need to be replaced. OK, so he lied. When I got there, two tires were flat, the other two were about to blow from dry rot, and the entire floor would have to be replaced. But otherwise, the trailer would work. So we dickered back and forth a little, I bought the trailer, changed one tire, headed to the nearest gas station to inflate the others, and kept my fingers crossed the whole way home.

This is what happens when you buy a trailer “as is” - you accept it, warts and all, and take possession of everything that comes in it.

Gotcha! What actually happened was I drove from Santa Fe directly to the trailer repair shop in Belen. Just as I pulled in, a trailer loaded with very noisy critters pulled up and I couldn’t resist sticking the lens between the gap in the back doors.

The trailer shop was right next to the sale barn, so I’m not sure if these guys were coming or going. And before you ask, I have no idea what the green paint is about on the butts of the sheep or goats or whatevers. (Help me out here, Twinville!) I do know that the horses up front were remarkably calm despite the three dozen noisy critters in the back...

...which gave me hope for being able to load my horses and burros in a similar set-up. This is the inside of my new trailer.

The horses will load first, and somehow I will convince George and Alan that they will be safe on their side of the divider in back.

The gooseneck area has its own little gate to keep Lyle from chewing on whatever I might stow up there. The downside of this trailer is that is has no tack room. Since I only plan to use it to haul the boys to the vet or to evacuate, that shouldn’t be a big deal.

After all, it does match my truck, and that’s the most important thing, right?

Some folks are coming out tomorrow to buy the two-horse trailer I have for sale. Unlike every other used trailer in New Mexico, it is in excellent condition.

I love this trailer and am missing it already. The gooseneck dressing room/tack room is so cozy. I have fond memories of sleeping up there during a bunch of horse-training clinics, when it would invariably rain and sound like I was sleeping with my head in a pail with someone pounding on the roof 4” above my face. Still, it was my home away from home. Even Smooch liked going camping in it. Here she is in Canon City, Colorado, the night before we sprung George and Alan from the prison.
Aren't you just lovin' those cowgirl curtains?

So if all goes as planned tomorrow (and the road isn’t too muddy and these potential buyers can actually get here), the horse trailer swapping adventure of 2008 will conclude. I will be trailerless for a week while my new used trailer is in rehab, but in the end, the family can leave together should the need arise. And the fact that I’ll have a trailer big enough for all us pretty much guarantees that the need will never arise.

One used trailer = $$$$
New floor, new tires, repacked bearings, overall tune-up = $$$
Peace of mind...priceless.


  1. My husband keeps telling me about all the horses in the area that are being sold for between $400 and $600. I keep telling him that buying the horse is the cheapest part of horse ownership. Your post proved my point *grin*.

  2. Great post and congrats on your new "piece of mind!"

    We have always had evacuation plans in mind too; just in case the mountain decides to blow. Of course it could be one of those cataclysmic eruptions, and then....just joking!!!

    You have some moxey being able to just mosey over and poke your lens into someone else's trailer (lol)!!! I'm glad that you did though, because the sheep/goats/horses were too cute in there. Kind of cramped looking, but cute.

    Good luck with the sale of your old trailer tomorrow!

  3. Good decision. It really makes sense to give up a few perks to have something you can haul everyone in.

    One question, can you throw a mattress down in and sleep in the gooseneck of the new trailer, too? Oh, probably not, I just remembered it had no tackroom.

    Curious to hear if anyone knows why the sheep had green marks on them....

  4. I love insurance policies like that. We have a snow blower that we use as an insurance policy in the winter. :)

  5. Hi, just found your blog and looking forward to reading through it. The green paint on the sheep is to identify each one as belonging to a particular owner. I'm from Ireland and we've lots of sheep here and they all mix on the mountains. In Ireland people get a grant for each sheep that they have and apparently it has been known for farmers to "borrow" each others sheep and paint them their colour for a few hours until they are counted from the air and then quickly paint them back again, so each farmer gets more headage payments :)


  6. I don't know why but I'm feeling sad that you're selling that gorgeous two horse trailer of yours. Gosh! Can't you just stretch it or something? hahaha

    That new one, compared to your soon-to-be-sold one isn't so pretty, but it sure will work perfectly for your hooved family members. And you could use that area tucked over the 5th wheel to hold your tack, don't ya think?
    At least Lyle can't nibble on it.

    In answer to your question about the paint: one of my angora goats had her rear end painted blue when I bought her from someone down in Bosque Farms. That guy had bought her, and others, from an auction/sales barn. Apparently the sales barn paint the sheep, goats and pigs with different colored paint to keep the group they have been sold in separate. So, if you see they've been painted it typically means that they have already been bought and paid for.

    By the way, are those cowgirl curtain's pattern based on that famous artist's artwork? I can't remember the name, but the artwork is usually of paint horses with Native Americans, often in the snow, hidden somewhere in the trees. That print reminds me of one my neighbor, Val, has on her wall.
    Are you going to keep your cowgirl curtains?

  7. Yep, what you last typed was exactly what I was gonna type in my comment...peace of mind!

    And as far as I know, going on cattle, the paint is for identification for when they're at the saleyards. Different parts painted are for different people...the big buyers and such. But it might be different over there.

  8. You must be feeling so good to have that taken care of - I know it's an issue for us that is yet to be resolved.

    We need a 6-horse trailer to get all 5 equines plus dog and cat crates plus feed/water. And the trailer needs to be extra tall/wide to accommodate Keil Bay, who is a big guy.

    The thing is, that 6-horse trailer would be a total pain-in-the-you-know-what to drive locally just hauling the pony and Cody to clinics, shows, etc. So in an ideal world, we'd have the 6-horse and a smaller (but still extra tall/wide) 3-horse to use for the regular stuff.

    The size of the truck needed to haul the big trailer and all that weight? I shudder to think of the cost of something even relatively new.

    But - one thing at a time. That's how I'm operating with this.

    I just read last night that Hilda Gurney (dressage rider/trainer in CA) keeps trailers hitched to their rigs 24/7 due to the wildfire issue. She has lived through two evacuations, one in which her farm/stable was burned out, and another where the fire never made it to the farm but horses (65 of them!) had to be relocated all over the place for awhile.

    I'm glad you're set now!

  9. Karen #1 - "cheap" and "horse ownership" are words that just don't belong in the same sentence. Your point is proven every day by every horse owner on the planet.

    Knutsons: You call it "moxie," I call it "stupidity." As I had the lens stuck in the back of the guy's trailer, he drove away – guess he didn't realize I was back there!

    Pony Girl, I can still throw a mattress up in the gooseneck if I were desperate for a horse-camping adventure. But there aren't any windows up there and I can just feel an attack of claustrophia coming on. Using that area as a quasi-tack room is also an option, but given that I'm short and it's pretty high up, I think I'd just toss my saddle in the truck.

    Karen #2 - You've given me an idea - I think I'll go rip the gutters off the house. For sure it will rain alot more, right?

    Maria, welcome to the ranch! We love visitors, especially when they come from so far away. I love your story about the headage payments!

    Twinville, believe me, if I could build an extension onto my old trailer I would. Ever since reading your comment, I've been sitting here thinking maybe I should just keep it and have two trailers. Thanks for the butt paint explanation - the green splotches make perfect sense to me now. Is the artist you're thinking of Bev Dolittle? This fabric came straight from Walmart, so I doubt any masterpiece was the inspiration. Since my new trailer doesn't have windows, I'm going to bequeath my beloved cowgirl curtains to the purchaser. Unless he's some good-looking cowboy, in which case I will bequeath myself.

    Gecko, sounds like the paint id system for livestock is pretty similar between downunder and upover (?). I've never been to a livestock auction, for fear I'd buy up everything in sight.

    Billie, sounds like your escape plan needs to involve something other than a trailer - say 5 lead ropes and you just walk them out to the nearest safest place. When there was a fire in the Albuquerque bosque a few years back - a very horse-dense, residential area - people led their livestock out on foot. The minute the local news showed video of this, people with horse trailers from unaffected areas showed up in droves to help move the animals.

  10. I don't know about the different parts being painted on cows, they all normally have a tag in each ear from the time they are born to identify them in Ireland. The EU is very strict on herd identification.
    I've seen sheep with two colours onthem regularly so don't know what that's about.....

  11. I heart your 2 horse trailer!

    I have a 3 horse slant, bumper pull and I really, really want a gooseneck. But, obviously I don't want it bad enough to go searching the world over for the "perfect" replacement! ;-)

    Glad you can haul all your stock in this one. Are you going to practice loading so that if/when the time comes the burros will be more cooperative?

    Speaking of repacking bearings, I bet mine need it.

  12. I wish I could buy your two horse trailer! You've probably thought of this, but why don't you stick the new trailer out where the burros spend their day and let them explore the new trailer and sample some tasty cuisine inside it so they associate going in there with good food and good times? You could have a little burro party in there. It was a good idea to buy it and I hope you'll never have to evacuate anywhere, but you're a good mommy.

  13. Seller's remorse...

    My beloved Trails West trailer just left the driveway, never to return...sob. That was way too easy. The buyer never even attempted to negotiate the price; she just used my computer and transferred the money from her account to mine.

    CindyDianne and Victoria, there will be lots of loading practice, to be sure. The burros self-loaded into my two-horse trailer - I'm just a little concerned that they may not be as willing when they're staring at two big horse butts on the other side of the divider. I may have to bring Chuck back out to help. Check this post out to see what I mean.

  14. Congratulations on your new trailer, I'm sure it will be great to have on hand should anything happen, which it won't now since you are prepared.The old trailer looked really nice and cozy too. Don't forget a spot for Wynona!