Wednesday, December 19, 2018

It's That Time Move Across the Country, Part 3 - Epic Road Trip With Horses

Our route. 

I have been asked about one hundred times before I left with Klein and Super B if I was hauling them myself.  Yes, I was, and I did, and it went super smooth.  It was a 3,003 mile road trip.  Some reasons I did it myself are that 1. I had to get my truck and trailer out there anyway, 2. I have the truck and trailer for a haul like that, 3. I have the horses that can handle a haul like that no problem.  So why not, right?

I have a full size Sundowner 2+1 trailer and a Dodge 2500 with the infamous 5.9.  The truck pulls that trailer like it's not there, and the girls are SUPER comfortable in that trailer.  Now, if I had a 7' tall stock trailer would I have done that?  No.  Or was hauling with a 1/2 ton, no.

Also, I'm comfortable hauling.  Some people look at big hauls like this massive, complicated thing.  They're not.  In my mind they are the same as any local haul, you just have to sit in the truck for a lot longer and be a little more prepared with the supplies you bring for the horses/truck/trailer.

It was at this point that reality started to set in along with some serious excitement!  The government does pay me to move whatever I have in the trailer, EXCLUDING live animals.  

Helpful hint for my fellow military members, I have seen people try to scam the government doing these moves through my job and the result is a federal conviction if you are caught, and you always get caught.  So, if you are a military member reading this, I cannot emphasize enough to maintain your integrity here and remember just because you are not on base, these scales DO have cameras, and TMO DOES check for inconsistencies.  Also, if you are weighing in a town with a base, retirees are ALL over working in the community and if one is working the counter at the scale and sees something they know isn't right, they're going to turn you in.

I decided to take the safest route possible as far as weather this time of year also.  I actually added on 500 miles to the trip because I went south and stayed south.  To me, it wasn't worth running into some nasty ice storm or blizzard, or hitting Flagstaff, Arizona in bad conditions on those hills.  I could have come down and taken I-40 all the way out to Kingman, Arizona.  That would have sent us across the country just north enough to potentially encounter some bad ice storms and snow.  I-70 was also an option, but I used to live in Colorado for quite a while and I am EXTREMELY familiar with the weather on I-70 this time of year.  A friend of mine that still lives there even told me that I-70 has already been shut down 6 or 7 times this year and there have been chain restrictions on it regularly.  I-80, that's also not an option because I have driven that way across the country before too and Wyoming is not nice this time of year along I-80 and down into Salt Lake City.  Not only snow, but the wind gets so out of control that there are big gates along I-80 that they will use to close it for wind and other inclimate conditions.

I wanted to leave earlier in the month, I was ready to leave the day after I got back from my trip to go see our new house that we bought, and the new barn, but Super B was still fighting her abscess and it hadn't blown yet.  After it did blow she was three legged lame for almost two weeks.  There is no way I could ask her to stand on a trailer for any extended amount of time.  After the abscess was done draining I picked a date to leave that I thought would give her plenty of time to be healed up and ready.  My plan worked because she was sound as could be by our departure date.

We left on the 8th as the latest winter storm was making it's way through the central part of the country from the west to the east coast.  I knew it was out there but he had to go and if we left on the 8th we would get below it before it hit the east coast and would be south enough to only experience rain.  I still would prefer not to be in massive rain storms that are so bad they cause flooding. 

Getting ready to load Klein and Super B the first morning.

The first day we stopped at a farm in Aiken, South Carolina.  We got to North Carolina and started to see brine on the roads.  I started wondering why we were seeing brine so far south???  That was not a good sign.  We were making good time and still hadn't hit any rain as of Fayetteville, NC.  Though we did start getting texts and FB messages saying we were about to drive into the storm.  Yes, I knew that, but the rainy part of the storm.

The overnight farm in Aiken.  I thought I was far enough from New Jersey by that point to be done with this flooding thing.

The weather started looking worse and worse for the next day with Atlanta being our main problem.  There were reports of freezing rain and that the road crews would be out around midnight starting to treat bridges and overpasses.  We decided the smartest thing to do would be to wait in Aiken for a day to let that whole system pass.  The chance of freezing rain isn't worth ANY amount of risk.  So, that's what we did.

Raining with a real feel of 26.  Whyyy???

Aiken was hit so hard by the rain that the farm we were at was flooding and the girls couldn't use the day turnouts I had reserved.  Thankfully that farm had nice, big stalls for them and we took them for a walk as well.  It was quite miserable with blowing downpours and a real feel of 27 degrees.  South Carolina was supposed to be nicer than that.

Day paddocks, completely flooded and not an option at any point.

Loaded up and leaving Aiken.

Monday morning we were on the road by 4:30am.  That day we were headed to Shreveport, Louisiana to stay at a friend's private farm for the night.  We got in some traffic that morning in Atlanta but the rest of the day wasn't too bad.  Our favorite part was about an hour from the Mississippi River and then over into Louisiana until the sun set.  We got in a bit later than we wanted to, partly due to the early morning rain all the way to Atlanta.  Thankfully the girls were able to be turned out all night and get some rest.  We only got four hours of sleep because we wanted to be back on the road by 4am.  I drove the entire trip and am not sure how I functioned on four hours of sleep for two nights after hauling 700-850 miles a day.  It is largely thanks to caffeine.  I don't recommend you seriously get back on the road after four hours of sleep but we did what we had to do.  Our second day felt like we made some big progress, and we did.  We left South Carolina and passed through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and all the way across Louisiana.

Crossing the Mississippi River!

A warning sign to watch for bears along the highway in Louisiana.

One of my favorite sights, truck and trailer hauling to another adventure.

Cajun sunset.

A little buddy I hadn't seen since we left Georgia!  We baby sat her when she was just a kitten!  I love this sweet girl!  She was hanging on to me for cuddles and slept with me all night in Louisiana.

That day we drove across the ENTIRE state of Texas.  We went from Shreveport, Louisiana to Anthony, New Mexico.  The farm we stayed at in Anthony had a cabin onsite so we again were able to stay with the girls. They also had nice, big turnouts to stretch their legs in and get some real rest.

Another early start for the girls out of Shreveport at 3:30am.

I have been to several areas of Texas that I did enjoy very much, but, I-20 across Texas is just mind numbing until you get just past Odessa.  It was there that I started to see mountains in the distance, then after our last diesel stop for the day in Pecos we saw the change in landscape to desert and what a beautiful sight that was.  Most of the day was spent looking at windmills, refinery flares, oil fields, and other random things you only see on road trips across the country.

Rest break at a truck stop in Big Spring, Texas.

In the middle of nowhere Texas.

This would be one of those random things you see on road trips across the country.

Finally seeing mountains in the distance.

Finding our second wind after seeing the change in landscape from nothingness to the desert!

We were actually happy to see El Paso because it meant we were almost done for the day...then we hit I-10 traffic and a rollover accident.  So close, yet so far.  That night was another four hours of sleep night but the next day was the last so we were ready to just get back on the road and be on our way.

Anthony, New Mexico at Open Heart G Farms.  Great owner and great on site accommodations for people and horses in case you ever are looking in that area!

We didn't even eat that morning until we got snacks at the first stop for diesel after we had been on the highway for a couple hours.  We were just ready to get back on our way.  We didn't eat dinner that night either, just snacks.  We survived on snacks the whole trip.  In the beginning of the day we had dreams of going somewhere for an actual dinner but we always got slowed down by something and by the time we would get to our end point we were exhausted and diner was not high on the priority list.  Showers and sleep were the priority.  We made up for that in Vegas though.

The next day was the last and the best part of the drive for two reasons, because it was the last day and because it was the most beautiful scenery of the entire trip.  I LOVE Arizona.  It's drop dead gorgeous and I was excited to get to it so I could see the beauty of the desert.

Our first rest stop was in Tucson that morning to let the girls rest, eat their breakfast grain, and get some food and caffeine for ourselves.

Tucson Wal-Mart.

Breakfast time.

Sitting with the mares while they ate their breakfast in Tucson.  The weather was perfect with the most beautiful breeze in the air.

Next stop was Wickenburg, Arizona to top off the diesel before we went through the no-man's land between there and Kingman.

Joshua Trees between Wickenburg and Kingman.

If anyone has driven from Phoenix to Las Vegas via Kingman you know there are some serious, long hills.  My truck did excellent.  We were doing 65 up the hills and the truck never got warm enough to be concerning.  I know of some people that have had to turn off their A/C (if they were hauling when it was warm enough for it) and everything else to go through that area to help keep the truck engine cool.  My Beast owned it, all of it.  On the steep down hills I put it in 5th and let it coast down the hills.

Under one hundred miles to go and about 50 miles or less from the Hoover Dam!

The crowing moment of the trip, coming around/down the hills from the Hoover Dam and seeing the strip in the distance.

It did feel good to drop the trailer for a couple weeks after driving 3,003 miles with it.  I will say this though, if anyone is considering this trailer, I already loved it before for multiple reasons, add hauling like a dream for 3,003 miles to that list.  It has always pulled so smooth.

The mares traveled like absolute professionals.  Klein, I knew would be like that, and Super B I expected would be like that, though I am happy she has now proven herself.  She is a War Horse that has raced in various states on the east coast so there should be absolutely no reason she wasn't a model traveler, but you never know until you go ahead and get that experience out of the way with them.

They drank like fish, they constantly ate, they peed when we stopped and didn't have any issues opening the back ramp to clean in loud truck stops.  I was going to unload them and take them for short walks on breaks but then we decided it was best not to get their hopes up that they were done for the day only to let them down by having them get back on the trailer.

Settling in at their new barn in Vegas.

Now, if either one of them had any condition that would have warranted them to take some walk breaks (older/arthritic), then I would have done it.  Or, if either of them were coming off the trailer with any stiffness or stocked up legs, I would have done it.  We just had no reason.  They were bright eyed and riding along like they were up for the adventure, so why mess with it?  We would stop every four hours to let them take a rest and offer water/refill hay/clean the trailer.  I did have them in their Back on Track Sheets the first two days until we got into weather where they really didn't need anything on due to the temp increase and the fact neither of them are clipped right now.

Sunset view from Klein's turnout with connected stall.

The girls both looked amazing.  Neither of them looked like they lost any weight or were dehydrated in the least.  You would have no idea they just went on that long of a haul.  After the first day I think they realized we had reached our end point and their new home, so they celebrated.

Two pretty mamas after getting the spa treatment.

I love this place and I am so grateful to have found it and that there were two open spots.

View from our new ring.  Unreal.  I missed the mountains.  I didn't think I did, but, I was wrong.

Another view from the ring.

I rode Klein before I left and she felt GREAT! She was full of energy and ready to GO!  I was going to ride Super B too but decided to just wait the two weeks until I get back to give her abscess foot that much more time to make sure it's 101%.  She actually got reset a couple days after we got there.  We decided that once the shoe went back on in NJ when the abscess foot was ready to not mess with anything prior to this long trip.  So a couple days after we got to Las Vegas my new farrier who is absolutely amazing and I am super excited to work with came out to reset her.  You could still smell some nastiness in the right foot from where it drained from the sole (she has pads on her fronts).  But, it is all healed and dry.  I just felt there was no need to push anything and she will without a doubt be ready to go back to work when we get there in two weeks.

Of course Klein felt amazing.  

I didn't do much with her, don't let the canter pic fool you.  That is why I just hopped on bareback, because I was just going to meander around but also put her through all three gaits to see how she felt.

Another buddy I am happy to be reunited with.  Anyone remember Nala?!  She looked like a little Ewok when she was a puppy.  She is still the sweetest pup ever.  I missed her too!

All in all, the trip went pretty much perfect except for hitting traffic here and there and some rain.  You can't ask for much more on a road trip with horses.  If those are your only worries, you did good.  I will write a post after this about preparation for this trip as far as the logistics and answer any questions.

I am back in New Jersey for the next two weeks.  The house gets packed up next week and shortly after we hit the road in our cars.  So yes, I get to do the drive all over again.  I wish my Caddi would drive itself out there, but it won't.  

Landed back in Philly to cold, rainy weather.  Wow, what a surprise.  Shocking really.  I can't wait for my 310 days of sun a year!

In the meantime, I am counting down every minute until I get back in the car and get on the highway to head back out to our new home.  


  1. I'm not inherently a desert person but hearing accounts like yours and seeing the photos makes me really fall for it more. I love seeing places like that through the eyes and words of people who are so passionate about them. That photo of you in the trailer while the girls eat and the description of the breeze and perfect morning sounds so perfect. I can only imagine! And the mountain views from your ring!! That's perfection right there.

    1. There will be tons more pictures! And Tucson was where we hit that perfect weather where you could comfortably sit and enjoy it with just a t-shirt on and it was finally SUNNY! I've missed the sun SO MUCH this year!

  2. Thanks for taking us along on your adventures. I've been reading your blog since it was just you and Klein in Hawaii. You've been reassigned to so many interesting places since then. Since I moved to AZ from NV six years ago, I've always missed NV and wanted to go back some day, but just recently I had the realization that AZ is home to me now and I suspect if I returned to NV, I'd just immediately want to go back home. I was in the mountains in NV and the desert in AZ, and the desert has this way of becoming a part of you. I grew up around beaches, and everyone always said, "I love the beach," while I said, "I love the mountains", so I was glad to spend a part of my life in the mountains. The desert was never really on my radar, but now I realize there's a lot to love because so many unique plant and animals reside in some of the harshest climates.

    1. I remember when you were in NV, and your insane neighbors. I remember you having some cold weather where you were at in NV too. Glad to hear you are still enjoying AZ. Your pictures from around your property in AZ were so beautiful. Somewhere along the way when you made your blog for invited readers only I didn't make the list. If you want to send me an invite my Google email for it is If not, no worries. I do love the beach but I think I am in the same boat as you, I love the mountains, specifically the desert mountains most.

  3. You can't kill those Dodges! I have the same one, curious what year yours is and how you feel it overall handled the haul?

    1. 2002 and it handled it like it could have done that trip every week. I didn't have any worry at all with it. I love my Beast!

  4. Glad you had a safe trip and enjoyable company along the way. I wish you well with your life journeys and many more horses to love. It was a great pleasure watching you and Ms B train together. I'm so glad you two found each other.