If anybody has ever offered you a “free” horse, you know the term “free” is
a complete lie not really true. Even a free horse has to eat, drink and be sheltered, and if you want to ride this “free” horse it will also need tack, suitable to your discipline. This free horse needs vet care, farrier care, and all the extras like a halter and lead, brushes, possibly blankets.
And any horse you’d like to show needs transportation. I am lucky enough to have my own truck and trailer, so I get to go to lessons and clinics and shows when it suits my schedule, and not just when I can beg, borrow or steal a rig to get my horse to the venue. The catch?
I farm . . . and so does my trailer. Not only can I not afford to buy a trailer that costs the same as a small house (and is potentially better furnished), I also have a dual-purpose trailer that hauls pigs, sheep, cows, goats, chickens, and one
totally useless fabulously cute mini-mule. My trailer has seen all sizes and consistencies of poop, from little brown sheep turds to the sprayed-on-the-walls stressed-cow pies.
Too much information? Sometimes the horses feel that way, too. They walk into the trailer after four pigs have been taken to market, and the noses squinch, lips curl up, eyes bug out a little. By now, most of my horses are pretty OK with other livestock smells and walk right in, but horses newer to the place sometimes have second or third thoughts about climbing aboard!
My trailer is affectionately known as ‘Trusty Rusty’, ‘The Rustbucket’, and ‘Yeah, that one’s mine.’ The floor is solid, the tires are generally good, and the whole thing is made of steel, so it’s heavy-duty (and also just heavy). There is no dressing room or tack room, so we cram as much gear as possible into the gooseneck space, and the rest gets packed into the truck box and backseat. I’ve gotten real good at ‘Horse Show Tetris’. Thankfully, my trailer is painted red (well, parts of it), so the rust blends in quite nicely. Although it sure is a standout at a show, among all the white and silver.
But this trailer? This is the first trailer I drove. I spent countless hours in the driveway, backing and turning, parking and re-parking, panicking at the thought of having to park at shows. It has hauled me to everything from my first dressage show with a little Quarter Horse I had at the time to my first Training level event this weekend. It has brought friend’s horses along for the ride countless times, taught green horses how to load, brought rescue horses to a safe haven. This trailer serves as a ‘hotel’ at horse shows where I can’t afford a real one – the army cot goes in the front half of the stock trailer, and sweet dreams to me.
So no, my trailer isn’t fancy, and sometimes it smells, quite frankly, like cow sh . . . pies. Between the hubby and I we try to keep it sound, serviceable and electrically functional. This year I think the budget is going to stretch to purchasing a new (used!) aluminum stock combo with (drumroll please . . . ) a DRESSING ROOM! I’m beside myself at the thought.
Old ‘Rusty’ will surely stick around (because really, who would buy that?), and continue hauling animals to the butcher, taking sheep to summer pasture, and getting me into trouble when the odd critter hitches a ride home. And really, after over ten years of memories, I would be too sad to see it go.