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Prepare Beyond the Basics When Traveling

I recently went on a two-day get away into south central New Mexico. My friend Barb asked me to help her transport a mustang to the Ruidoso area. She said that the scenery would be very pretty in that region.  I had never been there so I jumped at the chance to get out of the geographically locked-in area of southwest Colorado.

When we hit the road I was prepared with food, water and clothing. I had checked the forecast – not too hot and possible rain. I didn’t ask Barb what she brought but it turned out she had also brought food, water and had sleeping bags in the gooseneck sleeping area. She had brought some water for the horse. What she did not bring was extra hay, fly spray or horse first aid.

The trip was great as we cruised down roads that were straight and had no significant grades. What a nice change from Colorado.

The truck started getting hot about one hour from the delivery destination. The last town was Socorro, back to the north 30 miles. We found a wide rest stop and pulled over. After calling her mechanic we determined that we would have to let the truck cool. Barb called the adopters and they agreed to pick up the horse.

We waited and waited. No chocolate, no beer, no movies.  I spent time in the trailer with the horse and we got to know each other well. That paid off because I was his new best friend. A few hours later the gentled mustang unloaded from one trailer into another along the highway, as slick as a well-trained horse.  Then we were back on the road to Socorro.

What lessons had we learned? Always be prepared for accidents, breakdowns or unexpected circumstances. Being prepared means having what you need, what the horse needs and what both of you might want.

Simple problems like a flat tire can take hours to repair. If you are hauling even for a day ride, and break down, having water and hay will keep a horse calm and occupied. Here are some lists that include emergency must haves as well as boredom elimination solutions.

Horse Items

  • 5 gallons of water for the horse, and a bucket
  • Hay or compressed hay, cubes or pellets, grain and horse treats
  • Basic horse first aid: Betadine, cotton wrap, vet wrap, electrolytes, a healing or anti-biotic salve, fly spray.
  • Horse body blanket for winter travel

Human Items

  • Clothes suited for the season. In Colorado, I carry winter clothes all year long. Mountain weather can be extreme even in July, and nights are cold. A blanket or sleeping bag and small pillow stashed in the truck are always useful.
  • Rags or old towels are great for wiping hands or automotive work.
  • A chair to sit in and an old rug are nice to lie down on or for a kid play area.
  • At least one gallon of water. For food, take some healthy options like beef jerky, vegetables and dried fruit. Don’t forget some sweet and salty foods. Cookies, soda, chips and junk food may not be healthy but sure are nice to have. Peanut butter keeps well and the dried peanut butter is great to mix with water.
  • First aid should include some antibiotic ointment, bandages, Band-Aids. Always have antacid and some sort of pain reliever. It is miserable to have a case of heartburn, a headache or severe back pain while waiting on the side of the road.

What Else – Beyond the Basics

Let’s face it; hanging out on the side of the road can be boring and irritating. Keep some reading material in your trailer. Be sure to have your electronic devices charged so you can do email, watch movies and shop! Take a deck of cards. You can play solitaire or games with others.  Keep a notebook in your trailer for writing a “to do” list, a letter or for drawing.

If you have kids with you, bring toys and small activities.  Bring water-misting bottles if you are traveling in the heat. Be sure to bring basic kids medicines like acetaminophen and Benadryl.

Boots and good walking shoes are absolutely necessary when hauling horses. Never trailer horses while wearing flip flops or sandals. Trying to change a tire while wearing shorts, a tank top or flip-flops will be very uncomfortable and unsafe.

Happy Trails from southwest Colorado.