By Gayle Carline
Author and Horse-a-holic
I'm going to try to tell you a story without naming any names because I don't want to start a big old war with anyone who might or might not be guilty of anything. And truly, I don't think anyone is exactly in the wrong here.
Or are they?
A friend of mine is trying to get a pony from the West Coast to a new home on the East Coast. His current owner does not have time for him and the folks back east used to live out here, know and love the pony, and are looking for a companion for their horse (who also knows the pony).
They looked for a transport that would be a reasonable cost and found one. The pictures on the website looked fine, there were good reviews by satisfied customers, and the price seemed right (not too high but not suspiciously low). Everything was set, and we all (sadly) awaited the day when the pony would leave for his new home.
Then, after a day's delay, the trailer came.
The haulers had told the new owners that they had a new trailer. Technically, this was true. It was new to them. It was not new. It was, however, pretty substantial to be hauled by their truck, which is probably why they were delayed getting to the ranch. Their truck had broken down.
When the pony was led up the ramp, we found he was going to be next to a very feisty little mini, and at their next stop, they'd pick up yet four more ponies, and a Belgian. Their plan was to fit three ponies in one third, three ponies in another third, and the big horse in front.
At this point, it was noted that the trailer had panels "installed" across the width of it for the ponies. I'm using quotes because they weren't bolted or welded into place. They were held by wire and baling string. The pony had to be backed into his space, and although our horses don't have a lot of wiggle room in our slant-load, it just looked a little tight, especially when the driver put a gate across the entrance and, yes, wired the pony in.
My friend was alarmed. "How do you get the pony out if there's an emergency," she asked.
"That's what the wire cutters are for," the driver said.
She tried to calm the red light going off in her head. The haulers assured her that they stopped every night and got the horses out. Then, two sentences later, they said the pony they already had with them had kept them up all night because he was kicking the stall in the trailer while they were trying to sleep. They also told another story of hauling a horse no one knew was pregnant that foaled in the trailer in the middle of the night. Again, there was the question of whether the horses got out at night.
They pulled out of the driveway, and she kept thinking of the way those panels were pieced together and the fact that they were going to squeeze yet another pony into the space, and they were all wired in, and they had told her it might take as long as six days to get to the East Coast.
As they left, she called the East Coast folks and explained everything. By now, everyone was alarmed. They called the hauler and made them turn around and bring the pony back. Fortunately, even though it had been half-an-hour since the hauler pulled away, they were just down the street getting food.
The hauler was mad. So mad that he misjudged the gate and took his side mirror off on the fence. The East Coast folks are now out the deposit, and the West Coast friend has to find another hauler for the pony.
I truly believe the hauler thought it was all going to be fine and dandy. I also truly believe my friend was right to worry. We'll never know whether the pony would have gotten there safely. In the end, my friend listened to her gut.
What would you have done?