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Preparing for the Long Haul

Published: 5/30/2012
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Part I, Prep Work

By Maddy Butcher


Big decisions can be broken down into bits. There are emotional bits, practical bits, family bits, financial bits.
Moving horses across country was a decision full of bits, especially the practical ones. And they needed to be ironed out well in advance.

The horses would need to be healthy and prepared. 
  • The rig would have to be safe and solid. 
  • The route would have to be researched. 
  • The destination point would have to be ready for us.
Dr. Rachel Flaherty visited the girls within a month of departure. They’d need spring shots, health certificates, and Coggins tests. To complete most interstate travel, horses need a Coggins within the year and a health certificate within the month. Some states, most particularly Florida, may require more. I talked with Flaherty (in photo at right) and Iowa officials and checked with my friend in Ohio, too, where we’re be overnighting.
It’s expensive stuff. Vet work for all four came to about 800 bucks.
After much deliberation, we decided to upgrade our truck and trailer rig from a bumperpull to a gooseneck. We thought the investment would make the hauling safer and more comfortable. In hindsight, I’d say it was wholly worthwhile.

We packed for emergencies of all kinds:
  • Truck: a trailer spare, a truck spare, jacks and irons for flats of both kinds, jumper cables. We had contact numbers for our memberships in USRider and AAA.
  • Water, hay, and hay stretcher (as loose horse treats), banamine, bute, Gas-Ex, extra halters and leads, electrolyte replacement pastes, and much more.
  • First aid kit for us, cell phones, maps, and lots of healthy snacks, drinks, overnight bags.
How much can you prepare a horse for a life-altering move? They would be trailering farther than any of them had ever trailered. Plus, they’d be moving from minimal grass to round-the-clock grass.
No, I didn’t sit them all down for a long talk, with a PowerPoint presentation, coffee, and Kleenex.
But I did load and haul all four several times, putting two fore and aft the center wall. It got to be a comfortable, stress-free process with each horse stepping on and off without hesitation. They were hauled free and so were able to move around and get their heads down for hay.
It being spring in Maine, there wasn’t too much I could do about grazing. But for weeks, I hand-grazed them for a few hours a day while my lawnmower remained in hibernation.
In Iowa, Steve Peters readied the horse quarters with a new run-in shed and fortified fencing, keeping in mind the antics of one herd member in particular. (Click here). We also lined up a local vet in case we had any issues after arriving.
My friend, Michelle Melaragno, my dad, and Steve all helped with the planning for the 1,200-mile drive. I’d contemplated driving straight through with no overnight stop. They all thought otherwise. Boy, am I glad we stopped! The trip’s toll on my brain and body was much greater than I reckoned.
Before 5am on May 17th, we loaded up and pulled out of the driveway, mostly awake and full of nervous energy, but secure with the knowledge that we’d prepared just about as well as we could have.

Part II, The Trip - Good, Bad, Pretty, and Pretty Ugly

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5/30/2012 martyjoco
Iowa?? Huh?? I DO love Iowa - all those lovely windmills whirring away above the hilly farmland - but wha?? I can't wait to hear the story on this chapter. You do have one heck of an interesting life, my friend. Love, MJC

   
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