So the plan was to move the horses on Sunday July 4th. I was in GA after my first week at my new job, and my husband and daughter were in NC packing the UHaul for the drive down on Saturday. Jennifer brought her 3 horse trailer from Marietta to pick me up and Lexington, and we drove up to NC on Saturday. Of course, as we walked to the Tahoe, Jennifer commented on how low her back tire was, and we went to a gas station to put air in it. Saw the nail, and also saw the bulge that seemed to be starting... We stopped at a tire place in Elberton and the guy put a used tire on for $40, all without unhitching the trailer. Crisis averted.
We passed the UHaul on I85 in SC and waved as we crossed paths. The rest of that trip went well, and my previous manager and his wife met us at Tylers for dinner and beers. (Thanks for dinner, Bill!) It was perfect weather for sleeping in my 3 horse Sundowner weekender. We had a terrific breakfast Sunday morning at Weaver Street in Carrboro, then went back to the barn to pack up my stuff and load the horses. All was going well until Jennifer opened her trailer door...
The tongue and groove floor had popped out and you could see the ground under her trailer! She had been concerned about her floor but had several people tell her that it was fine. Apparently...it wasn't. The vibration of the 5 hour drive had jiggled it right out. What to do... We were able to put the floor back together and decided to go to Home Depot to have sheets of plywood cut to fit over the floor. We bought a drill, some screws, a sledge hammer, and the plywood, and headed back. I needed some air in my trailers tires, so I stopped at a BP. Something was jammed in the coin slot and I couldn't get my quarter in. I cussed, and we moved on to another gas station and found one with FREE air. Of course I had to cuss all the people who were in my way since I was driving this giant Sundowner, and they obviously didn't realize that they were ticking me off. I have no tire gauge that goes high enough for my trailer tires nor my truck tires. My husband bought me a digital one years ago, but the battery died, and I can't remove the battery to replace it. Jennifer borrowed one from some nice man, so we got the tires done. Went back to the barn, and no problem, we got the plywood down and were very proud of ourselves even though it was much later than we had anticipated, but things happen, and we handled it. Then...
Gem refused to be caught. All 5 horses were loaded, and there was Gem, cantering around the pasture. I offered to leave her with Helen, and even offered $10 on top, but she just laughed and handed me some apples to help catch her. We finally caught her with a bucket of grain and got her loaded. We were off. We were already tired and hot from fixing the floor and catching Gem, and we stopped to get a drink and put air in Jennifer's trailer tires (and the new used truck tire...). We head out of there, then stopped to put gas in Jennifer's truck. FINALLY we get on I85!
Several miles down the road, I notice that one of the plastic bins we'd put in the bed of my truck was blowing around a lot, so I pulled off on an exit to move it. I put in in Jennifer's Tahoe and started back to 85. As I turned, I noticed a bubble in the sidewall of my trailer tire, so I call Jennifer to deliver the bad news. A few more miles down the road, I have to pull over on the side of 85 because the other bin in the bed of my truck had lost it's top completely, and stuff was trying to fly out. The foal blanket had already blown out and was caught and hanging onto my trailer's propane tank. Ugh... I collected my stuff and threw that bin into my cab. We inspected the bubble and decided to try to move on...
A few more miles down the road, I hear a tire blow. If you've never experienced this, it will scare the s*%# out of you. I pull over on the side of 85 AGAIN, and guess what, it's not even the tire with the bubble in it!!! It's a trailer tire on the OTHER side of the trailer. So we discuss our options, and we get back in the trucks and limp along to a gas station. Jennifer goes in to ask if anyone knows of any tire stores that might be open, not that any would have two trailer tires in stock, but anyway...it's the 4th of July AND a Sunday, so no go. I start changing the flat tire while Jennifer calls around to see what we can do. I called a friend back home to get on the internet and find a boarding or lay-up barn near Charlotte, cause at this point, I'm ready to scrap the trip and come back for the horses.
The general consensus was that we could use Jennifer's trailer spare for the bubble tire as long as it was on the front axle, and as long as we took it easy, it would get us home. So we did that. Changed two trailer tires in the gas station parking lot in Charlotte, NC, and not one person asked if we needed help. Screw 'em, we did it ourselves.
After having one tire blow out, driving after dark on the 4th of July will shoot your nerves. Every firework freaks you out. I just kept driving and wished for the best. My mantra was: Slow and steady gets me home. Slow and steady gets me home...
We made it home at 12:30 that night. Let me tell you, those horses were never so glad to get off a trailer. And I was never so glad to be home.
Things I learned:
1) Replace tires at least every 4 years, no matter what they look like.
2) If you have trailer tire issues, a smaller trailer tire that fits the lugs will suffice as long as it's on the front axle.
3) In an extreme emergency, you can take the tire completely off the front axle and limp along to a safe place.
4) If you don't have a Trailer Aid or similar ramp thing to change trailer tires without unloading, you need one. Today. I've had mine for years and it finally paid for itself a million times over.