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April 15, 2011

Trailer, etc

We’re getting a new trailer. A Sundowner Sportman. It (supposedly) has all the bells and whistles. I don’t know if we need bells and whistles, but this is what was available. Pete leaves here on Friday. He’ll drive to Beaver Creek, Yukon, Territory, pick it up, and drive it home. This will be a two-day trip. I can’t go with him because I have an Icelandic Horse Club teleconference on Saturday. I can’t miss it because I’m the president.

On Sunday we’ll take the trailer on its first road trip. This will be a bittersweet trip at best. We’ll take Tinni to Nilla’s place in Soldotna. He’ll be there until August, when Pete gets back from the Lower 48. Nilla told me the other night that Tinni will (at first) be pastured with Bob (the name’s the same, spelled forwards and backwards.) Bob could be Siggi’s twin brother, and in fact I think that the two are related. They’re both blue duns, very curious, and very lippy. This pairing is going to mystify and maybe dismay Tinni. He’s spent considerable time training Siggi, and is probably hoping that he’ll get a break. As I will tell him, “But Tinni, you’re good at raising young horses!”

I have mixed feelings about taking Tinni to Soldotna because I’ll miss him something awful. My attachment to him is different than my attachment to Raudi. From day one, I have been the student and Tinni has been the teacher. He’s taught me the importance of staying calm while in the saddle, and to be trusting of my mount. He came knowing how to go down steep hills and cross creeks. And he came knowing the ins and outs of group trail etiquette—all these things, I had absolutely no clue at all. It’s been the other way around with Raudi. I’ve been the teacher and Raudi has been the student. This made it easier to teach her what Tinni already knows. In fact, I venture to say that I wouldn’t be doing our upcoming trip if I hadn’t had such a willing and patient teacher.

However, I feel great joy in knowing that I’m doing the absolute best by my old man. Nilla is a certified veterinary technician and has farrier training. In fact, her knowledge about Icelandic horses and horse care surpasses my own. I can’t say that of very many people. I would not have considered doing the upcoming trip at all had she not volunteered to take Tinni for the summer. Another plus is that Tinni won’t remain idle. He’ll be Nilla husband’s Jeff’s teacher. It’s hoped that by the summer’s end that Jeff will feel confident when riding Rjupa, Nilla’s white mare. Coincidently, Tinni and Rjupa were stablemates when Tinni was living in Anchorage. I’m sure they’ll both have a lot of catching up to do, because they have not been together in five years.

We’ll load Tinni into the new Sundowner and go. I always wonder what horses think when they’re loaded up and taken somewhat. They have no way of knowing what’s to become of them. The fear of the unknown explains why so many bulk at the prospect of getting into The Box. If there is any consolation here, its that Tinni will have a very comfortable ride. Our old trailer was a two-horse slant, which meant that the horses had little room to move around. Our new trailer is open, and has plenty of room to move around. It was hard for the horses to see out of the old trailer. The new trailer has windows. And so Tinni will be able to take in the scenery as we head down the highway.

Our decision, to buy a new trailer was a tough call, because we might have been able to make the old trailer work. Key words here are “might have been able.” Pete and our friend Andre spent many, many hours fixing it up, originally with the intent of our driving it south. By fixing it up, I mean replacing lights, brakes, and bearings. And a few years back, Ruth Hersinger and I installed diamond plating, fastened a spare tire mount on the outside fender, and lowered the rear rump straps. And before that, Susan and Richard Tilly painted it and put in a skookum floor.

I could not dismiss what I’d read in innumerable articles , which was is that trailered horses are less stressed when they’re able to move around. I want the best for Tinni, Siggi, and Raudi, which is why I slept with the Sundowner spec sheets under my pillow. Pete, who is a bit more sensible, spent a great deal of time talking with the dealer, and considering all our options. When finally, he agreed that our getting the Sportman was the best thing to do, we went to Matanuska Credit Union and took out a loan.

Today we’re going to town, where we’ll act upon the advice of Arctic Arrow farm owner Bernie Wilis. We’ll buy mudflaps, reflectors, and wood pellets (they soak up urine). All this, in anticipation of Tinni, Raudi, and Siggi’s new ride.