I’m not a stranger to hauling horses. As soon as I could drive, my parents were happy to hand off the driving duties to local shows. My mother was soured on driving trailers after we got lost driving to a cross country event hosted by a foxhunting club in the middle of nowhere and had to back down a steep gravel road; my father simply had a varied work schedule that didn’t always accommodate my equestrian pursuits.
I never had any anxiety hauling Moe to a show or to school cross country at the county park or to a mounted meeting for Pony Club. I was proud that I knew how to hook up the trailer and could get myself from Point A to Point B. At my last job, a major component was driving the center’s truck and trailer to pick up horses for trial, or return them to their owners.
Somewhere along the last few years, my confidence has waned. I’ve developed major hauling anxiety. It started when my friend Levi and I went to Tennessee to pick up Moe. I was going to take Moe and my family’s steel 3 horse gooseneck trailer to Oklahoma; I trusted my dad when he said it was in decent condition. Regardless, I spent most of the 8 hour drive there worrying about what could go wrong. I worried that the frame was rusted. I worried the floor was rotted. I worried we’d have a flat tire. The trailer had a few rust spots on it, but the floor (which had always been covered by rubber mats) and frame appeared sound. Moe loaded in cheerfully, and I proceeded to spend the next 8 hours in a state of anxiety and terror, imagining every nightmare scenario that could go wrong. The trip was totally uneventful, the trailer held up just fine (and has been used a couple of times since), and I thought my fear would abate.
Last weekend, I had the same anxiety about hauling Moe to the show. I worried that the ball on my truck was the wrong size even though I’d confirmed the size with the trailer’s owner; I was so worried that I spent half an hour and $150 at the farm and ranch store buying a new ball and two different size drop hitches, just in case I didn’t have the right one and I couldn’t come back at 5 AM the next day and dear god why do these things come in so many sizes why are they so expensive WHAT IS HAPPENING!!!
The hitch and ball we had were fine; my additional purchases were totally unnecessary. (But I’m keeping them anyway, because that stuff is usually handy…right?) Once Moe was in the trailer, I worried about the condition of the floor and the frame. Never mind that the trailer’s owner regularly hauled horses and hay and all manner of things in this trailer and wouldn’t have lent it to me if she wasn’t confident in its condition.
Once we were on the road (and Moe hadn’t like, fallen out of the bottom), I worried about the other cars. What if I had to stop quickly? What if someone cut me off? Why is this fucking Honda practically in the trailer with Moe? I felt physically ill with worry and fear.
I was too tired to be anxious on the way home. I listened to Serial, laughed at Johnny’s jokes, and blocked out the insidious, awful thoughts about the various ways my precious, favorite horse could die while we drove down the turnpike.
I’m hoping that once I have my very own trailer and am totally aware of how it’s maintained that some of this anxiety will dissipate.
What about y’all? Do you ever worry about your horses in the trailer? Do you also suffer from near-crippling anxiety every time you have to drive your horse somewhere? Should I just take a Xanax and get over it?