Monday, September 5, 2011

LOOSE TRAILER...Pam Stone: Scary road incident shows true blessings


Pam Stone: Scary road incident shows true blessings

By Pam Stone
Published: Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 3:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 2, 2011 at 1:14 p.m.

Pam Stone: Scary road incident shows true blessings

Published: Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 3:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 2, 2011 at 1:14 p.m.

It's the nightmare scenario that no one who pulls a trailer ever wants to experience: The trailer breaking free from the truck.

However, this is exactly what happened to me Wednesday morning, driving through downtown Landrum. Having hauled horses since I was 18, I know the importance of checking and double-checking all security devices before leaving home with a trailer in tow: wiring, safety chains and the emergency trailer brake.

The trailer hitch is in excellent condition and the ball the correct size. Yet, somehow, as I crawled (and thank God I was crawling) over the railroad tracks, the hitch popped upward from the ball, the nose of the trailer collapsed downward and, because the safety chains were intact, the emergency brake applied and the trailer slid but a couple of feet before stopping.

Heart in throat, I leapt from the cab of my truck and signaled to the cars behind to go around. Before I could even call our local police for help, one gentleman came running from the weekly Farmers' Market, another from our Amish food store and a third from I don't know where but immediately took over directing traffic.

The farmer said to me, “I believe we can lift this trailer back onto the ball,” to which I replied, “Not until I get my horse off.”

“You mean there's a horse in there?”

His eyes widened as I opened the side escape door to make sure my 18-hand, 1,400-pound Dutch gelding was safe and calm. He gave a nervous whinny and having wrapped his legs earlier in the thickest fleece protective wraps available, I knew there was little chance of injury.

Letting down the ramp, I gestured to the gentleman to untie the lead and assisted the horse as he backed out with alacrity, much to the amazement of an elderly driver too close for my liking, who, before this, I couldn't quite persuade to back her car up a bit farther, please.

Once he stood on the asphalt and looked around in alarm, I should think Valentino thought he'd been in some sort of time machine: Only minutes earlier he had left his bucolic, quiet home and stepped into an aluminum box, only to now find himself in the road, in the middle of traffic, buildings and big rigs hauling lumber passing frighteningly close. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the familiar blue truck belonging to a group of Tryon, N.C., veterinarians pull over, and both vet and assistant came sprinting to make sure everything was all right.

As I held and stroked Valentino, my heroes all managed to reattach the trailer to the hitch, jumped up and down on the bumper, cranked the hitch as high as it would go to make sure it could not again pop off the ball. Gingerly, I led Valentino up the ramp (I certainly would never have gotten back inside that trailer if I were him). With Paul, summoned in the middle of this, following us with flashers on, we held up a long line of impatient drivers as we inched the four miles to the farm.

As I write, the trailer is at a specialist garage to find out exactly what happened and how. No way will I haul it again without knowing that. However, I think I surprised Paul when I remarked, after watching Valentino roll with great relief in the field, trying to scratch both his back and the experience from his mind, that my day wasn't spoiled at all.

Because, after all, it could have been so much worse. Yes, the trailer broke free, but it did stop immediately, straight and true, my horse was fine and I was surrounded by good Samaritans who were strong, calm and capable before I could even ask for help.

And that, folks, is just a truckload of blessings. I wouldn't trade where I live for anything in the world.

Reach Pam Stone at pam@thesatisfiedlifenetwork.com.

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