Our trip south was not quite a hobbit’s tale but still an adventure. As Bilbo said, “It’s a dangerous business stepping out your front door.”
Our trip down to Aiken, South Carolina was to be done in two parts, with the whole operation covering a week. Day 1, straight through with two drivers. Day 2, settle the horses. Day 3, drive back to Canada. Day 4, rest and repack trailer. Day 5, start mid day and layover in Kentucky. Day 6, drive to Aiken. Day 7 relax and recover. Our plan was only altered on days 3 and 4.
The best part about road trips with the horses is getting to share the adventure with them. You can feel a positive excitement from them, anticipation of getting to explore a new area. Horses like having jobs. They love to work and move their bodies. I swear they knew we were going somewhere warm where they could run around. So at 3 a.m. my first load of horses, all mares, loaded like clockwork! We were off.
My second favourite thing about road trips, if not equal to the first, is getting to spend hours listening to book tapes. Having your imagination engaged for 20 hours by a good story teller is a big treat. My current trusted audio companions, Dr. Temprence Brennan and Mr. Jack Reacher, have pulled me through last three hours on many a road trip. I was excited to have two new Reacher novels and a new Temperance novel!
Day 1: Our first trip down was excitingly uneventful. The girls traveled beautifully, drinking and eating really well. With every stop we made the temperature got warmer. When we finally arrived in Aiken it was close to 20 degrees. My friend, Melissa, had already bedded down the stalls for our arrival. So we were able to tuck them, and then ourselves, in for the night.
Day 2: We turned the four girls out naked. You could feel their pure joy and happiness. They demonstrated their gallop and fancy trot extensions. After months on our frozen tundra, the chance to run on soft footing was bliss.
Day 3: Our drive back was more of an adventure. All was fine until we got to that part on the 401 between Windsor and London. It had just got cold enough that the rain from earlier in the day was freezing fast. At one point I could feel the trailer start to slide. By some miracle we did not start doing figure skating patterns, but it was close. By some other miracle, we were completely alone on the 401. We had been going 60 km/h but dropped to 40 km/h. Then, sure enough, at the next exit the 401 was closed and we happily exited. We also were happy to see a Best Western and even happier to stay a night with my faithful “service” dog, Wyatt. We may have only been an hour and a half from home but it was not worth the risk.
Day 4: This day was a whirlwind. We arrived back to Erin, Ontario a little before noon. My farrier, Jason Thomson, was there putting new shoes on the second load of horses. One of the not-so-fun parts about leaving your support team for three months is is scheduling things as close to departure date as possible. I am lucky that Jason has a few clients who migrate south for the winter so he has us all on the same schedule and will make the trip south for us twice. However, this was cutting it as close as it gets to our departure date. We finished off Day 4 with bit more packing with help from my amazing barn team/family at Good Day Farm, just in time to do it all again the next day.
Day 5 : Another excitingly uneventful trip to Kentucky. This time I had my wonderful mom for a co-pilot. We have been on many horse road trips together and we make a great travel team. However, I may have tested her on this trip with a Lurcher dog and a hound dog who were new to the very long road trip thing. Blessed be our mothers! We landed in Kentucky at Dr. Pool’s Layover stop to find four beautiful straw-bedded stalls with a mountain of hay and fresh water. Dr. Pool’s will do night check and give your horses morning grain. We stay just three minutes down the road at a pet-friendly la Quinta Inn. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Day 6: We were off again to Aiken. Nothing exciting to report, other than finding a truck stop outside of Atlanta where I was able to fill up my truck for $77. We arrived in Aiken for dinner time. Perfect timing.
Day 7: Another demonstration of pure joy and bliss. The boys were so happy to out on soft ground. It just never gets old to watch their happiness, as long as they keep all their shoes on and don’t kick each other.
I am spoiled by our farm down here in Aiken. All the stalls have Dutch doors for the horses to stick their heads out. The wash stall has hot and cold water. We have a washer and dryer in the barn. My room has its own balcony. It’s easy to forget that I’m not here on vacation. But with event entries due and Cross Country schooling planned already, it will be far from a vacation. I’m very excited to get out there and show off what great horses I have down with me. We are here to train hard with my intermediate horse, develop the young horse and promote the sales horses.
Click HERE to watch a video of the journey unfolding.