Not to Drive a Gooseneck Trailer
laughs at himself will never cease to be amused
There's no way around it, equestrian sports were invented for the very rich or very talented, of which, unfortunately, I am
neither. While relegated to being only a weekend warrior, riding nevertheless has offered me the opportunity to meet some unique people. Our veterinarian, for
example has become such a frequent visitor to our farm
that rarely a night goes by that we don't get together
to complain about lame horses, the poor quality of
American beer, or the budgets our wives have put us on.
blacksmith meanwhile believes that Elvis killed Kennedy
and the Trilateral Commission is responsible for my
horse pulling shoes off. When we all get together, the
conversations get rather scary, especially when you
consider the topics we discuss versus the number of
years of postgraduate education we have between us. No
matter what the topic, humor is always a key ingredient,
with each providing our fair share, though recently I
think it's been a little one sided.
most amateur riders, I've often toyed with the idea of
having a second horse. I can't begin to count the number
of times I came off of a less then stellar dressage or
cross-county ride, wishing I could do it all over. After
much cajoling (including a forced vacation to Hawaii), I
was finally able to convince my highly skeptical wife
that I'd never make it to the Olympics on one horse, and
reluctantly, she acquiesced to my obtaining a second
horse. What I failed to mention however was the fact
that our trailer was too narrow to ship two horses
comfortably and that our 13-year-old truck was incapable
of pulling two horses at once.
discovering these facts, Audrey suggested that I sell my
experienced horse and use the proceeds to pay for the
new truck and trailer. Scratching my head in awe of her
non-rider logic, I tactfully tried to convey to her that
if I followed her advice, I would once again be riding
one horse, making a new truck and trailer unnecessary.
In the end however, she correctly recognized the
futility of trying to persuade me to change my mind, and
reluctantly agreed to my plan.
almost 16 years I've gotten to and from lessons and
shows with the same truck and tag-along trailer, and for
the most part, trailering has been uneventful. Following
the failure of the radio in my old truck however,
uneventful soon became downright boring. As a result of
the lack of incidents, I grew fairly confident in my
skill in the art of trailing, and have even dared to at
times pontificate to others on how to best drive a truck
and trailer. No rig seemed beyond my ability to drive,
that is of course, until I bought a gooseneck.
goosenecks pivot faster because they’re attached in
the middle of the bed, not to the bumper, so swing wider
then you did with your old trailer ... " shouted
the owner of the trailer dealership as I confidently
pulled my new dream rig out on the road for the first
time. "Yeah, yeah" I thought, "with my
experience, what was there to learn?" Armed with a
truck with power, but more importantly, a radio that
worked, road trips soon became the order of the day.
Lulled into security by the rig's impressive handling
characteristics, tuning in radio stations soon became a
greater concern then paying attention to corners.
weeks to the day after its purchase, I found myself
nonchalantly turning into my coach's farm for a lesson.
Be-bopping along to a Rolling Stones tune, I was just
about to lip sync the song's refrain, when my day dream
world was shattered by a violent jerk and the sound of
splintering wood. Stunned, I turned around to see my
brand new trailer sitting on top of what was left of a
brand new post and board fence. Unwilling to accept what
had just happened, I immediately backed the truck up,
reset my watch and closed my eyes. I even painted my
sneakers ruby red and tapped them three times. But all
to no avail, when I opened my eyes, the fence was still
screams of agony where plainly heard in the next county.
Looking over the damage, I found myself feeling quite
sick to my stomach.
As luck would have it, the day the repairs were done
would prove to be the hottest day of the summer.
with a array of tools, a cooler of strawberry daiquiris,
and accompanied by PJ, my trusty Jack Russell, the
repairs to the fence were eventually completed, though
more time was spent under a hose with PJ, cooling off,
than in driving nails.
exhausted from rare physical work and the heat of the
day. With the trailer scheduled to be dropped off the
following day for repairs, I began to put the whole
incident behind me, and once again reached for the radio
and sat back to enjoy the hour long trip home. Fatigued,
but happy, I turned into my driveway, the same driveway
I had turned my old trailer into for years.
Unfortunately, I wasn't driving my old trailer.
cracking of wood was barely audible over the Moody Blues
tune, which was playing at the radio's maximum volume,
but the sight of my wife feverishly waving for me to
stop, and Joe and Cindy Wivell scurrying for cover,
awoke me to the fact that something was terribly wrong.
Sheepishly I looked behind me to discover that I had
once again turned too sharply, and in doing so, taken
out five sections of our new picket fence.
out of the truck, I began to rant and rave like a
madman, and in the process created some very colorful
new words for the English language, much to the
amusement of neighbors who began to gather and gawk.
After regaining my composure and swearing off Strawberry
Daiquiris forever, I began salvaging what was possible
of the fence. Later that evening my wife noticed that
the horses were still in the trailer. Having already
once witnessed my antics following a collision with my
coach's fence, they had apparently decided that they
were safer in the trailer than out.
two wrecked fences under my belt, it was hard for me to
not to wonder if my driving skills might be at fault.
After much reflection, I eventually concluded that both
incidents had been acts of God. I had just about
convinced a rightfully skeptical Audrey of the
correctness of this conclusion - when I squashed forever
any positive notion one might have had about my trailing
retrieving the keys to the truck, which she had hidden,
and with a stern warning to keep the radio off, I
gingerly began to maneuver the truck and trailer through
the gate separating the yard from the dressage field.
Since this is how we turn the rig around normally, the
maneuver was fairly old hat. Being that the gate was six
feet wider then the trailer, my primary concern was on
not running over our three dogs, who think zigzagging in
front of the truck is great sport. After finally getting
them to sit out of the way [no easy task in itself], I
began to move the truck forward. For once, the dogs did
as they were told, though for some unknown reason they
were all looking in the same direction, towards the
turned out, while getting the dogs out of the way, the
truck had idled forward slowly, so slowly that I never
felt the right fender come into contact with the gate
post. As the dogs watched in disbelief, the truck was
now gunned forward, and the fender peeled backwards. By
the time I realized what was happening it was too late.
As I climbed out of the truck, the dogs took one look at
me and sprinted for cover.
with my stupidity, I picked up the glasses I should have
been wearing and threw them on the ground with the full
intention of crushing them to pieces; however, Audrey
read my mind and gave me a look that made me rethink
this action. As I looked around for something else to
break, she rushed into the house and hid all the knives
and other sharp objects. Intent on ending what had now
become a bad joke, I grabbed a sledgehammer and headed
for what was left of the fender. From a safe distance
however, Audrey interrupted me with a well thrown frozen
strawberry daiquiri, which I promptly picked up and
began to suck on as if it was a baby's pacifier.
belief in the supremacy of my trailering abilities now
in shreds, I took it upon myself to install some
mechanical interlock in my truck in hopes to prevent
future recurrences. Now when the steering wheel is
turned in any direction for longer then 3 seconds, the
radio automatically shuts off, a loud siren goes off,
over which is superimposed a voice shouting "Swing
wider then you did with your old trailer, Stupid".
As an extra added measure, I've installed an electric
cattle prod under the driver’s seat that goes off at
the same time, which has its down side, especially when
someone borrows the truck and I forget to tell them
put three months between me and the last run in with a
fence, I can finally look back at these moments and
laugh, especially since I now have a ready stockpile of
spare fenders in the barn.
other horse related stories by Michael Hillman
other stories by Michael Hillman