The TETRA rides are walk/trot affairs with folks who are there to just trail ride. No timed obstacles. No vet checks. No goals other than riding together, staying safe and getting your horse out in a big group of horses they don't know. Don't get me wrong, I think the timed obstacles and endurance rides are terrific. But these TETRA rides are low key affairs in beautiful places. The kind of rides people travel for hours, by plane or by truck, the ones ranches advertise in the Trail Riders magazine. They are about not seeing buses, or monuments, or telephone lines. They are about the land, horses, and like minded horse crazy people.
They are not about accidents.
But these things happen.
The plan was that we'd go in my truck and trailer, mostly because of gas mileage. Donna's diesel gets something like 5 meters to the gallon, so when possible we opt for our truck. I ran through my check list:
Two new tires:
I filled up the tank and was driving back home when I checked in Donna about departure time. That's when she told me she was taking Cloud.
Cloud? I said, a little surprised. Cloud is a terrific horse, but he's a HUGE Missouri Fox Trotter. Easily 16 hands, maybe more. Shoulders like a draft horse. "Do you think he'll fit in my trailer?"
The back load area of the trailer is bigger than the front, but a horse has to know to position itself to get it's hindquarters in. It's actually roomy, but with no rails to guide it into position I've had trouble with horses loading there. I wasn't sure how this was going to go.
"He'll be fine. He's really easy going," she said.
I imagined a scene from a movie where the big hockey player tries to sit in the elementary school chair while meeting with the teacher. As I recalled, it didn't go well.
I woke up at dark thirty, dropped the kids off with my mom, said bye to DH who was off on a motorcycle trip. I was at the barn right on time and proceeded to load a few last minute things in the trailer. Donna had already fed the horses, and we got ready to load.
Smokey was a little tough to load (again), and I had to wave off help. I'm going to load him repeatedly this week to get this tied down again. But after two attempts, he was in.
Then it was Cloud's turn.
Cloud took one look at the trailer and turned into a giraffe. Part giraffe and part hippo butt.
I'd never seen Donna not eventually get a horse in a trailer.
Cloud wigged out, to put it politely. I was there to try to apply pressure where directed. It was completely ineffective. Twice he knocked into Donna. Once knocked her on the ground. Three times he reared on his way out of the trailer (which was quite majestic, although a little scary given his size. 15-20 minutes of this and it was clear. We weren't getting anywhere.
A little about Cloud. He's Donna's hubby's horse. He gets ridden very little. He only rides (as far as I've seen) in her large 4 horse trailer. He'd been getting bratty, which was part of her reason for getting him out. Also she'd just sold her endurance horse and her horse in training had a pulled groin muscle.
As for Cloud, there was no way he was getting into the little two horse. It was time for plan B. We moved everything over to her trailer, and after a moment, loaded both in the 4 horse. We were running way behind, but still within the window of time needed.
We got to Storm Ranch through the back way, a way I hadn't gone before. There was a fork in the road and we ended up taking the wrong fork and had to turn around, going back through very narrow, very bumpy cattle guards. After we crossed the second one, I heard a weird noise from the back of the truck.
As I turned to ask Donna what that sound was my mouth dropped. There was the trailer, passing us like an errant ocean liner, headed for the side of the road.
"The trailer - it's passing us!" I said, helpfully stating the obvious.
I watched in horror as it glided by us, heading for a set of oak trees.
To be continued...