Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hola Buckin' it Up

Hola turned two on the 17th of April. She is a wee thing at fine boned 14HH. But she can turn and twist and snake that body every which way from Sunday! I watch her cat like moves and think, "Man! I cant wait to ride that!" but then I see her jump five feet sideways faster than I can blink an eye and I think, "Yah, I don't know about riding that!"     

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Video Says One Word

A picture says a thousand words. Well, this video says just one.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Trailer

DB and I headed out later than planned. Just an hour in to our two hour trip we were heading West in to a quickly setting sun. Chasing daylight did nothing to soothe my frayed nerves or a belly sick with anticipation. We were headed to small town on the coast of Washington state. The trailer we were going to view as a 1987 Circle J straight haul, silver with a black stripe. At the price they were asking I could afford to strip the trailer down to bare bones and still come out ahead. The problem was, at the price they were asking I knew I had to buy outright tonight or it wouldn't it wouldn't be there in the morning. I had my ducks in a row, I had bought insurance and a new hitch, went to the bank for US cash and put together a package of our e-mail exchanges as well as a print out of the craigslist ad so that I could prove the trailers purchase price at the border. I had spent so much time trying to make sure that I would get the chance to see the trailer, that I could buy the trailer and that I could import the trailer that it wasnt until I was in the truck and halfway there that I realized I hadn't actually stopped to consider if I wanted the trailer. I also realized that I hadn't seen a picture of the left side or backend and I hadn't really asked much about the damn thing either. DB was going to kill me if we had driven all this way to see a piece of garbage. What had I gotten myself in to?

The sky had turned a soft lilac by the time we pulled up to a small home set back in the woods. On the left of the drive was a pretty black and white Paint gelding, to the right, a sliver and black Circle J. Forgetting my manners, I jumped out and quickly circled the trailer. I looked back at DB. He cocked an eyebrow and asked, "Well?" I thought about playing it cool but there was no holding back the smile I felt blooming outward from deep in my heart. A huge smile and a quick nod and he knew I was sold.

The lady who answered the door was small and sharp bones with warm blue eyes. Her husband had a white beard and slow and easy way about him that was instantly endearing. We talked about the trailer, its history and I did a more thorough walk around. We filled out the paperwork by the light of the moon. I paid them cash. A small sum for the quality of the trailer. Afterward, we stood about talking. What we learned was that this kind man had lost his job last year. They were selling the trailer to help out with bills. Standing there in the cool evening air, listening to them speak positively of life changes, of putting in vegetable beds and downsizing to a smaller property, I learned something I hope I never forget. To indulge my thrifty Scottish nature by taking advantage of a depressed marketplace... well, that's one thing in theory... but to meet those nice folks and put a face to that economical reality, well that's something else entirely. Behind those "good deals" are people who are giving up what they worked hard to earn. That "deal" can come at a cost that should never be ignored or disrespected.  I had expressed to them how buying this trailer was a dream come true. She said that it had been for her too and wished me the best of luck with it. I could tell by her eyes she meant it. I could feel it in the warmth of her hug.

 I hauled the trailer home that night comforted not by the fact that I had gotten a good deal but instead by the sincerity of their good will. I got my trailer. I will cherish it. But I think the life lesson that came with it was far more valuable

Sunday, April 14, 2013

On Buying a Horse Trailer

A very little Hola meeting a very large TB gelding, Dave.
Ever so often my obsessive tendencies pay off. I have spent the better part of the last two weeks searching horse ad sites, craigslist, kijjij-bee-jee-tee-jee (or however in the hell you say that) and local tack stores in hopes of finding a really good deal. While genetically only half Scottish, when it comes to being thrifty (read cheap) I am 100% pure blooded Scott. Horse trailers in my area are few and far between and priced about 20-30% higher than trailers found on the US side of the border. I knew that I was going to have to travel to find a good deal. Unfortunately, when you spend time and gas money traveling to see a trailer you have to put a certain amount of trust in the sellers description. The problem with that is that I have no such trust. My number one priority was to get a trailer that was safe to tow. To me this meant that the floor was completely sound and well installed. The coupling/jack/hitch what-chya-ma-call-it was in good working order, the structure of the trailer was 100% sound and the tires, bearings and brakes were recently serviced or new. When I was sixteen my friend was hauling my horse when one bad board snapped and my horses feet went through the floor of the trailer at 40km an hour. Needless to say it made an impression on my young mind. I set out to buy a safe, practical trailer in excellent condition. My max budget was $5000 but I really wanted to spend closer to $3500. I focused on trailers in WA state and I did the necessary research on the importing process wherein I discovered that I needed to buy a trailer that was 15-years or older in order to be exempt from a provincial inspection and two week import process that would have been more headache than it was worth in savings.

What I also quickly discovered in the shopping process was that the value of a horse trailer is subjective and can drive an obsessively practical and tight fisted Scott crazy. For example. I could buy a brand spanking new two-horse-angle haul for $4650. But I would have to go through that import process and when everything was said and done I would be close to $6000. However, almost all angle haul trailers in decent condition, regardless of age were priced at $3500 and up. So I could buy a new trailer for $4700 or a 12-year-old trailer for $3500. This just didn't make sense to me. The angle haul trailers over 15 years old (and therefor exempt from the import process) were also priced at about $3500. On the other hand, two horse straight haul trailers gave me considerably more bang for my buck. I could get something newer and in much better condition for $3500 than their angle haul counterparts. While I prefer angle hauls I knew that a straight haul was actually more practical as they weigh less and are therefor cheaper to haul, I have no need or desire for a big tack room, I only have smaller horses who are great to load and I only plan on hauling shorter distances. I also am likely to be hauling only one horse at a time and so I focused in on a straight haul with a swinging center divider that would allow me to haul one horse on an angle.

Now began my search for the ideal straight haul. After looking at dozens of straight hauls I found there were certain features that I really wanted, such as:

-a fully enclosed unit (because it rains here a lot and I want to keep the interior dry and in the winter it helps avoid freezing drafts on wet horses (whether wet from rain or sweat))

-removable and swinging center divider (so it can be converted to a 1 horse angle or small open stock)

- a solid divider between the hay mangers (as I don't want do deal with bitchy horses fighting over hay or unfamiliar horses snarking at each other...and yes, snarking is a word!)

-a larger/longer window at the front of the unit (to allow for more light)

-a window on the side of the hay manger (to allow horses to see out and provide more ventilation)

-no ramp or only a small ramp

-full padding on side, front and divider

-bulldog style coupler

I had other wish list items like a to-the-floor center divider, under-the-manger saddle racks and interior lights but only the above were requirements.

Narrowing my search down made it harder to find available trailers but allowed me to spend more time researching those trailers that did make the cut. Therein I found my second problem. Because I was looking at 1997 and older trailers it was likely that considerable refurbishing had taken place over the years. This meant that someone, however qualified or not, had redone the floor, the wiring, the brakes and heaven knows what else. I would have liked to have had the trailer inspected before purchasing but the schematics of actually arranging that is more problematic than one would think, such as, being 2-6 hours away and in a different country, the who, when, where, insurance, multiple trips to see the trailer, and making sure that the "good deal" trailer doesn't sell before you can arrange all of the above. This is where my horse trailer search was turned on its ear... so to speak. I called a few local trailer servicing outfits and figured out what it would cost to replace the floor, brakes and wiring on a trailer. I also added the cost of new tires and other small repairs. Ultimately, I found it far less stressful to buy a trailer with the intent to replace everything then to try to find one that I could count on being "perfect". A  luck would have it a trailer came on the market on Wednesday morning that fit the bill perfectly. It was a silver 1987 Circle J two horse straight haul. The ad said it was in excellent condition and it was just two hours from home in WA state. I made an offer around noon and had a deal subject to inspection by three. That evening we left home a little later then planned and headed South... to buy my very first horse trailer.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Trailer Shopping

This afternoon I purchased a brand spankin' new beautiful Asus laptop *seated happy dance jig* which means I will finally be able to get back to blogging. Without further au due...

Presently I am typing on blogger. What you cant see is that every six seconds I am picking up my iphone to check my mail as I currently have an offer in on a horse trailer. Like, a real big bad ass blue metal horse trailer. Not like the only other horse trailer I have ever owned which was a hot pink single horse straight load which my Barbie doll and I precariously hauled all over my living room carpet.  Since typing that paragraph I have checked my mail 87 times.

 A note to sellers: Please check your freakin' mail, preferably every 3-5 minutes. And then please respond promptly.... as in no more than 6-8 minutes after received my e-mail. Thank you.

Here is what I have discovered about buying horse trailers. It is not that much different than buying a horse. Horse people are nothing if not consistent in their ability to spew forth bullshit without a batting an eye. So far I have found two trailers that I was completely sold on right up until I talked to the sellers. One man couldn't stop tripping himself up in his own lies. "I haul the trailer everywhere! My wife uses it all the time! We have gone on a bunch of trips with it and it is great! Up here, down there!" I ask him how recently the brakes have been redone. His response, "Oh, they were done a few years ago but we really don't use the trailer much so they should be good still." *nods blankly*

I have decided that I would rather buy something that I know needs repair and have the work done so I know it is done right rather than f-ing around trying to figure out what patchwork haywire job some guy's brother-in-law's uncle's best friends' cousin did "just last year".

I just checked my mail for the 987th time. Still no word. I'm in for a fitful sleep tonight!