So I bought a trailer. Since I’ve never driven a trailer before, I decided to take it out on the roads for a few times without a horse in it, the idea being that I should get as many mistakes as I can out of the way before I actually put live animals in there. I also wanted someone who was adept at trailer driving with me to give advice and point out potential pitfalls.
Some of my friends who are trailering aficionados told me to just hook the thing up and go out on the roads, that I didn’t need a babysitter. That wasn’t going to work for me. The way I saw it, that’s not how I learned to drive in the first place. (Here are the keys, Aim. Have at it! The highway’s just down the road on your right.) I wanted someone who knew what they were doing with me for the first few times.
My friend Mary-Ann went with me the first time I drove it, bless her brave heart. The kids and I had been practicing hooking the trailer, so by the time she got to the barn my son Noah and I had hooked up and were ready to go. Mary-Ann hopped in the truck and off we went. We made it down and out of the long driveway with no trouble (kinda weird not to be able to see anything but white metal in your rear view mirror) and out on to the closest main road. I was busy congratulating myself for making it that far without incident when I heard Mary-Ann say, “The speed limit’s 50. You have to do at least 50.”
Now, I’ve never had that kind of issue with speed limits before. Mostly I have to slow down to get to the posted limit. I don’ recall ever needing to speed up. However, dragging a big box around made me a little conservative, so every now and then you’d hear Noah or Mary-Ann remind me to speed up until finally Mary-Ann said in a tone that brooked no argument, “No, really. You have to go 50. Now. Step on the gas pedal.”
We drove over to a local office campus with several large parking lots, figuring since it was a Saturday there would be ample room to practice backing and turning without too many casualties. The lot was wide open so I worked on backing up into parking spots. We were just about to start with K-turns when a little white-haired man in possession of a uniform and a very official attitude came out and asked us to leave the premises. I’m not sure why, but this struck us as hysterical for some reason. I mean, really, here we were, two adult women and a teenage boy, and we’re getting kicked out of a parking lot as if we were high school kids experimenting with booze behind the high school bleachers
After our eviction we decided to get on the highway for a bit, which went well. I stayed in the right lane, and again barely reached the speed limit. (Again, a complete anomaly). After some highway work we popped off to go to a road that Mary-Ann said was perfect for working on K-turns. It was basically shaped like a T, and Mary-Ann had me stop on the top-left side of the T and back the trailer down the long stem of the T. Once I’d done that she had me then pull up to the right so I was straight on the top right side of the T, and then back the trailer down from that way.
This did not go well. At all. I sucked. I think I might have tried to do this about 20 times in each direction to no avail. Which made me tense. And flustered. And irritable. My vocabulary was getting more colorful by the second, and I was bringing my Higher Power’s name into expressions that could have gotten me struck by a lightning bolt had said Higher Power been paying attention. Mary-Ann did her best to remain patient with me (no small task, bless her heart) and Noah did his best to avoid laughing. (Smart Boy).
Finally I half-assed it in a way that we could call marginally successful and we left it at that. We drove back to the barn, unhooked the trailer, and heaved huge sighs of relief. Mary-Ann headed home (and probably poured herself a large adult beverage) and Noah and I drove home, feeling that we had a good number of successes and knew what we needed to do to get better.
More tales of our trailering exploits will be forthcoming. Provided we survive them.