Sitting behind the wheel of our Ford F-350 truck, I look into the rearview mirror. Oops, I forgot again. That view provides only shiny aluminum and the word "Exiss." I have to retrain myself to forgo using the rearview mirror when my truck is hooked up to the horse trailer.
Something told me I better learn how to drive the rig, "just in case." My husband, Barry, and I bought our Exiss three-horse, fifth-wheel trailer in Ohio. On the journey home, Barry coaxed me into "getting a feel for it" on a deserted four-lane highway. I drove all of two miles down a poker-straight highway. Then I pulled over and said, "Nice rig, Hun. I got a feel - a feel that I don't like driving it."
Preparing to load up on one camping trip two years ago, I sat myself down in the driver's seat. Hmm, odd, why am I sitting here? I thought. I guessed it was time to learn to drive the rig. My goal was simple: Transport humans, equines, and canines safely to our camping destination. Look out mobile world!
A friend from Minnesota had wise words for me: "Don't white-knuckle it, just relax." I admit that a deep breath now and then felt good.
My rig-driving went well, with handy tips from hubby when descending/ascending steep hills or maneuvering through small, squishy towns.
Pulling 10,000-plus pounds and reasonably trying to keep up with traffic, you need extra time and distance for a complete "whoa." Don't expect to hit the brakes and have everything come to a screeching halt. This trailer is transporting precious cargo.
Did you ever try riding in the back of a trailer? It's strange and unstable for two-legged creatures who can reason. Horses can't anticipate stops and turns; it's not easy for them.
Until you're behind the wheel of a rig, you don't realize the truck/trailer perspective. Instead of a hurried world, your priority is a slow, smooth, safe journey for you and your horses.
Mobile world, please have a little compassion for the rig drivers of the world. I've disciplined myself not to holler out my window or gesture in a changeable way, since I'm representing the horse community.
One time, a woman saw me slowly approaching a red light. She pulled into my lane, oh-so determined to get in front of the slow horse trailer. I pushed the brakes down as far as they'd go, held my breath, and hoped I wouldn't smack into her. You can assume what happened next: Gal driving rig hollers with all her might through closed window.
To reciprocate the road respect offered by zippier vehicles, those pulling horse trailers should stay in the slow lane and do what they can to prevent holding up traffic.
Last year, my husband was thrown by his young Paint gelding hours from home. Guess who had to get the gang home? Me! Now onward to learn how to maneuver
this baby in reverse - backing is not my specialty!