Many people involved with horses may not think twice about owning and using a trailer.
For me it’s been some kind of holy grail. Ever since I had my first pony!
My friend Sarah and I used to get up before dawn, bicycle two miles to the farm where our ponies shared a field then ride them back home to start grooming, plaiting them up, putting on our best jodhpurs, ties and jackets and hacking five or more miles to the nearest gymkhana.
There we would always see twins Sophie and Charlotte, identical of long blonde hair and immaculate show pony descending from their shiny trailer, cooler than a fridge-full of cucumbers, to bag all the best rosettes.
Fast forward through many years when horse transport never seemed to get high enough on the list of financial priorities. Of course, it’s no small investment to buy a trailer, even a second-hand one, so you have to be pretty serious about your riding to set aside the money and it’s a really hard sell to a partner who can think of a bucketload of far better things to spend it on. (“So you’ve got the horse, what more do you want?…..”)
Anyway, enough of all that, because the decades-long wait is over and all good things come to she who bides her time, eventually. My own shiny trailer is here!
Ah, I love it! Battleship grey, nice and anonymous, with a front ramp, which is the most prevalent type in the UK but a rarity in France (it’s a Richardson Original, an English make; anyone else out there got or had one?), and I much prefer to lead the horse out walking forward – I daresay that’s a novice’s preference!
Today I gave it a full “valet” service; a good scrub and polish, and, like you do when you wash the car properly, I got a good chance to look at every part of it in detail. (It’s been a monsoon Christmas here so the trailer’s been mostly living under a tarp since we got it!) What I was really pleased to see was that it appeared to have been deftly but subtly reinforced in all the places that count.
The floor has been replaced with the non-rotting, man-made flooring used in more modern trailers (it’s 17 years old); and both inside and out it’s good and sound. Reassuring to know that it was previously owned by the Bordeaux mounted police who had obviously looked after it well, and still had stickers all over the back, which I painstakingly peeled off, after thinking about it, as I prefer not to be “the woman with the police trailer”. My trailer débuts in public will be testing enough without drawing attention to myself!
Just before Christmas I cleared out an old stone outbuilding – ok it still needs a roof !- but it will be the ideal place to house the trailer. However the access is not quite straightforward. We spent a comedy half-hour trying to back the trailer in, just ending up in failure, frustration and spinning wheels churning up mud (and turning the air blue!). So the first fine day this week we took the trailer down to a village car park, unused during the holidays and practised backing the trailer. Left, right, wiggly, straight …
A man in a neighbouring house came out into his garden to, very unconvincingly, hang a sheet on the washing line: he must have wondered what the hell we were up to! Luckily there was no one else about to witness the very slow process of us getting the hang of reversing. Little by little we got the feel for it, (husband, obviously, was far better than me). I’m not looking forward to doing that in front of anyone else, but it’s got to be done to get us on the road.
Next step: getting the horses in ….. but are they both of the same mind? 😉
Our very best wishes for 2013 to you and your loved ones