Friday Funnies-An Anxious Species by Bob Goddard
The job of trailering horses has all the leisurely qualities of a paratroop drop in combat. The number of things that can go wrong is limited only by the amount of time you spend on the road. Or off the road, as the case may be. I'm sure my pessimism is the result of a bad first impression. The first three times I trailered a horse, it ended in some form of calamity. On our maiden trip, the trailer brakes locked up when I turned on the truck's headlights while we were going 45 m.ph. Someone please explain this to me. The next excursion featured a tire blow-out on a busy inter-state freeway. I still feel just terrible about the six to ten vehicles that were forced to swerve around me, especially the nice couple with the good lawyer. It was awful what happened to their brand new Pontiac Bonneville SSEI that they said I might as well keep now. The third time out, the truck decided that fifteen miles was enough work for one day and overheated. This left me, two irate adolescent females and a horse who believed he could get the trailer moving again by kicking the hell out the inside, stranded on a lovely morning in early May. Nothing has gone wrong since these initial outings, but the experience has instilled me with a sense of impending doom. I always feel like we got away with something if nothing goes wrong. And it doesn't help that everybody I talk to has a better story than mine: "One flat tire? Ha! That's nothing! We had three blow-outs in one day! And a broken axle. But that was after the floor boards gave out and the engine exploded. All while trailering through war-torn Somalia under sniper fire." While the list of potential trailering frustrations is endless, nothing is as aggravating as getting a reluctant horse into the trailer in the first place. I'm convinced that a horse's understanding of physical principles is completely different from ours. How else can you explain the animals who insist on loading sideways? And what about those who figure half in and half out is good enough for now? They march up the ramp with all the confidence of the German Army invading Poland, and then - wham - on goes the parking brakes. They act as if they're at the edge of a minefield. Even horses who have done it hundreds of times express loading anxiety. They bolt, they rear, they kick. They sweat like Clinton at a deposition. It's not that they don't want to please you. It's just that climbing into tiny metal boxes triggers some kind of automatic survival response. Their basic instinct to be alert to danger is put in high gear. It's a healthy combination of alertness and caution. Just good ol' equine paranoia. Being human and thus emotionally superior to the horse, I have no fear of enclosed spaces. I hop into the truck with the confidence of a species that rules the planet … But first, I have to make sure the trailer lights work. Just a precaution, you know. I check them before each trip. And at each stop. Sometimes at stop signs. Sometimes, I'll even pull off the road to check them. Just being careful. And I never allow anyone to turn on the radio. I have to listen for any unusual noises. And no talking. This is important because I want the other passengers to hear me when I say "Did you hear that? Did you hear that noise? I heard a noise. Did you hear a noise?" And I don't want anyone bothering me as I alternately pray for traveling mercies and curse the other motorists for their existence. And no falling asleep! I need alert passengers! I need someone to help me discuss the pros and cons of a lane change! While pulling a trailer I stay totally alert. I keep my head in constant motion: mirror, road, temperature gauge… mirror, road, temperature gauge … mirror, road, temperature gauge ... The older I get, the more I understand why a horse poops in the trailer.