Ever had the trailer trip from hell? – photo by Geri Hollander

HJU reader Carly Starkey lives in central PA with 2 dogs, 3 cats, a rabbit, and an OTTB. This spring she had an adventure-filled trip and shared it with us with the following note: “I know it’s pretty long, but I promise it’s worth the entire read if only to get to the end to make sure we all survived!”

The Trailering Trip from Hell

This spring, I scheduled a cross country schooling at Burgundy Hollow Farm in Northampton PA. It was my OTTB’s first real cross country schooling in preparation for his eventing debut the following month. I’ve been to Burgundy Hollow before without any trouble, but this turned out to be one of the worst trailering trips I have EVER had to anywhere..

Let us delve into the journey out and the journey back. I assure you, it will include high drama, the excessive use of tobacco products,possible fires, illegal activities, and our main feature will be a runaway truck ramp. If that doesn’t make you want to stick around for an undoubtedly long story, I don’t know what will!

Hubby and I roll out of the house at 7:30 to get to the barn by 8ish. Perfect. Our schooling is scheduled for 11:00 am so we’ll probably leave the barn just before 9 and we’ll be there right on time. Best laid plans, right? We pull into the barn drive and our travel companion Sarah is trotting out her horse Blackberry before bending down to grope his leg. Super! His leg isn’t warm, there’s no fluid, he’s not bothered by us poking it, but there’s a rather strange lump on his RF. Since he’s sound on it, she decides to take him anyway and see how he goes. Crisis one averted.

We get the boys wrapped and loaded up. No issues there, as expected. Hubby and I jump in the truck with the hounds, Sarah and her boyfriend jump in her car with their beagle, and away to the gas station down the road we go for a quick fill up in the truck. We pre-pay for $50 of gas and stand around the truck while Hubby puts gas in. Suddenly, Hubby says, “Oh, &%^$! There’s gas leaking from the bottom of the truck!” So Hubby quickly pulls the truck out of the way of the pump, cuts one of my water buckets in half, and shoves it under the gas tank that is pouring gas out of it. Being men, Hubby and Boyfriend crawl under the truck and find a hole in the gas tank. Mind you, this truck just had $1,500 worth of repairs done to it so it would be totally road-worthy. Clearly they missed this small detail. With not much choice, we wait until the gas stops leaking and high tail it back to the barn.

Get the ponies back in their stalls and ask Barn Owner (BO) if there’s anyway we can borrow her truck. “No problemo!” BO says. “Use my trailer, too, because the truck is extra, extra long and a bumper pull trailer will probably be a pain to haul. Just check the air in the trailer tires because one likes to go low.” Thanks, BO! Fastest truck and trailer switcheroo ever and the boys are back on and we’re headed to a different gas station for some air. We fill up the low tire and check the others. One looks like it’s got a bubble in it so Hubby lets out some air. All seems well and we’re finally back on the road! I call up the wonderful Michelle Casale – owner/operator of Burgundy Hollow – and tell her we’ll be an hour late.

Now we reach the climax of our story. We’re going down the hill into Jim Thorpe on 93S, about to turn onto 209. This hill is a beast. It’s windey, it’s long, and it’s steep as hell. A good place for the trailer brakes to not work, right? And forget the truck brakes. They’re now billowing smoke out behind us as we go wheeling around a curve about to get to the stop sign that there’s no way we’re stopping at. So Hubby took advantage of the runaway truck ramp which THANK GOD was thick, heavy gravel and we slid to a stop.

Ponies are fine. It was, of course, the first thing I checked as soon as we were mostly stopped. Sarah comes running down after us and we all have a group panic attack. Sarah proceeds to suck down two cigarettes in a row and Hubby has his first cigarette in two years. We’re finally able to get it together long enough to move the truck off the ramp and onto the shoulder to wait for the brakes to cool down.

I call up Michelle again and give her the rundown, telling her to tack on another half an hour to our ETA. She tells us that her family lives in Jim Thorpe and if we need anything, just call her. Don’t worry about time, she’s there painting poles all day. Hubby and Boyfriend get the trailer brakes going again and Boyfriend gets in the truck with Hubby for manly moral support.

Bobby and I schooling at Burgundy ~ photo by Hubby

We finally pull in to the farm and let the boys get off to graze while we sit down with Michelle to get different directions home. Screw you, Jim Thorpe. We’ll never see the likes of you again!

So we head home after two hours of schooling and whatnot and get on I-80. Yay, for 80! A real road with no hills!

We’re about two exits from home when Sarah calls up from our rear. “Uhh, there’s rubber flying off the trailer tires.” Get off the exit which we were fortunately just passing and examine the damage. Blown out tire on the trailer -the tire that was bubbly when we left. Hubby has the tire off and switched in ten minutes flat and we get back on the road.

We stop at a gas station to top BO’s truck off and turn towards the last one mile to the barn. What can possibly go wrong at this point, right? We’re so close!! We hit a turkey. The barn drive is in sight and we hit a turkey! It didn’t do any damage to us as BO has a brush guard on the truck, but the turkey fared otherwise.

Needless to say, we were all happy to get the boys off the trailer, throw our tack in our lockers, and head home for some serious de-stressing. It must have been worth it (somehow) because the following month, Bobby and I went out and won our division.

Now, the next time you have a flat tire when you’re hustling to leave in the morning, just remember – things could be a lot worse!