Return to:
Windy Meadow Farm
    Horses and Riding
  Farm Life
Horse Jokes
List of other articles on by:


How Not to Drive a Gooseneck Trailer

Michael Hillman

He who laughs at himself will never cease to be amused

There's no way around it, equestrian sports were invented for the very rich or very talented, of which, unfortunately, I am neither. While relegated to being only a weekend warrior, riding nevertheless has offered me the opportunity to meet some unique people. Our veterinarian, for example has become such a frequent visitor to our farm that rarely a night goes by that we don't get together to complain about lame horses, the poor quality of American beer, or the budgets our wives have put us on.

My blacksmith meanwhile believes that Elvis killed Kennedy and the Trilateral Commission is responsible for my horse pulling shoes off. When we all get together, the conversations get rather scary, especially when you consider the topics we discuss versus the number of years of postgraduate education we have between us. No matter what the topic, humor is always a key ingredient, with each providing our fair share, though recently I think it's been a little one sided.

Like most amateur riders, I've often toyed with the idea of having a second horse. I can't begin to count the number of times I came off of a less then stellar dressage or cross-county ride, wishing I could do it all over. After much cajoling (including a forced vacation to Hawaii), I was finally able to convince my highly skeptical wife that I'd never make it to the Olympics on one horse, and reluctantly, she acquiesced to my obtaining a second horse. What I failed to mention however was the fact that our trailer was too narrow to ship two horses comfortably and that our 13-year-old truck was incapable of pulling two horses at once.

Upon discovering these facts, Audrey suggested that I sell my experienced horse and use the proceeds to pay for the new truck and trailer. Scratching my head in awe of her non-rider logic, I tactfully tried to convey to her that if I followed her advice, I would once again be riding one horse, making a new truck and trailer unnecessary. In the end however, she correctly recognized the futility of trying to persuade me to change my mind, and reluctantly agreed to my plan.

Now for almost 16 years I've gotten to and from lessons and shows with the same truck and tag-along trailer, and for the most part, trailering has been uneventful. Following the failure of the radio in my old truck however, uneventful soon became downright boring. As a result of the lack of incidents, I grew fairly confident in my skill in the art of trailing, and have even dared to at times pontificate to others on how to best drive a truck and trailer. No rig seemed beyond my ability to drive, that is of course, until I bought a gooseneck.

"Remember, goosenecks pivot faster because they’re attached in the middle of the bed, not to the bumper, so swing wider then you did with your old trailer ... " shouted the owner of the trailer dealership as I confidently pulled my new dream rig out on the road for the first time. "Yeah, yeah" I thought, "with my experience, what was there to learn?" Armed with a truck with power, but more importantly, a radio that worked, road trips soon became the order of the day. Lulled into security by the rig's impressive handling characteristics, tuning in radio stations soon became a greater concern then paying attention to corners.

Six weeks to the day after its purchase, I found myself nonchalantly turning into my coach's farm for a lesson. Be-bopping along to a Rolling Stones tune, I was just about to lip sync the song's refrain, when my day dream world was shattered by a violent jerk and the sound of splintering wood. Stunned, I turned around to see my brand new trailer sitting on top of what was left of a brand new post and board fence. Unwilling to accept what had just happened, I immediately backed the truck up, reset my watch and closed my eyes. I even painted my sneakers ruby red and tapped them three times. But all to no avail, when I opened my eyes, the fence was still down.

My screams of agony where plainly heard in the next county. Looking over the damage, I found myself feeling quite sick to my stomach. As luck would have it, the day the repairs were done would prove to be the hottest day of the summer.

Armed with a array of tools, a cooler of strawberry daiquiris, and accompanied by PJ, my trusty Jack Russell, the repairs to the fence were eventually completed, though more time was spent under a hose with PJ, cooling off, than in driving nails.

I was exhausted from rare physical work and the heat of the day. With the trailer scheduled to be dropped off the following day for repairs, I began to put the whole incident behind me, and once again reached for the radio and sat back to enjoy the hour long trip home. Fatigued, but happy, I turned into my driveway, the same driveway I had turned my old trailer into for years. Unfortunately, I wasn't driving my old trailer.

The cracking of wood was barely audible over the Moody Blues tune, which was playing at the radio's maximum volume, but the sight of my wife feverishly waving for me to stop, and Joe and Cindy Wivell scurrying for cover, awoke me to the fact that something was terribly wrong. Sheepishly I looked behind me to discover that I had once again turned too sharply, and in doing so, taken out five sections of our new picket fence.

Jumping out of the truck, I began to rant and rave like a madman, and in the process created some very colorful new words for the English language, much to the amusement of neighbors who began to gather and gawk. After regaining my composure and swearing off Strawberry Daiquiris forever, I began salvaging what was possible of the fence. Later that evening my wife noticed that the horses were still in the trailer. Having already once witnessed my antics following a collision with my coach's fence, they had apparently decided that they were safer in the trailer than out.

With two wrecked fences under my belt, it was hard for me to not to wonder if my driving skills might be at fault. After much reflection, I eventually concluded that both incidents had been acts of God. I had just about convinced a rightfully skeptical Audrey of the correctness of this conclusion - when I squashed forever any positive notion one might have had about my trailing abilities.

After retrieving the keys to the truck, which she had hidden, and with a stern warning to keep the radio off, I gingerly began to maneuver the truck and trailer through the gate separating the yard from the dressage field. Since this is how we turn the rig around normally, the maneuver was fairly old hat. Being that the gate was six feet wider then the trailer, my primary concern was on not running over our three dogs, who think zigzagging in front of the truck is great sport. After finally getting them to sit out of the way [no easy task in itself], I began to move the truck forward. For once, the dogs did as they were told, though for some unknown reason they were all looking in the same direction, towards the fence.

As it turned out, while getting the dogs out of the way, the truck had idled forward slowly, so slowly that I never felt the right fender come into contact with the gate post. As the dogs watched in disbelief, the truck was now gunned forward, and the fender peeled backwards. By the time I realized what was happening it was too late. As I climbed out of the truck, the dogs took one look at me and sprinted for cover.

Livid with my stupidity, I picked up the glasses I should have been wearing and threw them on the ground with the full intention of crushing them to pieces; however, Audrey read my mind and gave me a look that made me rethink this action. As I looked around for something else to break, she rushed into the house and hid all the knives and other sharp objects. Intent on ending what had now become a bad joke, I grabbed a sledgehammer and headed for what was left of the fender. From a safe distance however, Audrey interrupted me with a well thrown frozen strawberry daiquiri, which I promptly picked up and began to suck on as if it was a baby's pacifier.

With belief in the supremacy of my trailering abilities now in shreds, I took it upon myself to install some mechanical interlock in my truck in hopes to prevent future recurrences. Now when the steering wheel is turned in any direction for longer then 3 seconds, the radio automatically shuts off, a loud siren goes off, over which is superimposed a voice shouting "Swing wider then you did with your old trailer, Stupid". As an extra added measure, I've installed an electric cattle prod under the driver’s seat that goes off at the same time, which has its down side, especially when someone borrows the truck and I forget to tell them about it.

Having put three months between me and the last run in with a fence, I can finally look back at these moments and laugh, especially since I now have a ready stockpile of spare fenders in the barn.

Read other horse related stories by Michael Hillman

Read other stories by Michael Hillman