Wednesday, January 28, 2009


We were ordered by the Armed Services to be at loaded by 7am, which meant we had to be at the barns at 4am so that the horses could be feed and watered prior to leaving. This also meant that we had to leave the hotel at 3am!!! We set up for Kyle’s wife to meet up with my friend Sarah and her husband downtown so we had to put her on a Metro, which added to our adventure to find one open at 3am that would take her to where she needed to go.

Once at the barn and the horses were feed and watered we had to start packaging them for the trip into DC. This means we had to put the leg wraps back on, with shipping boots and bell boot, the whole works. There horses were packed in like sardines into these trailers. Plus now we had to squeeze in the extra large Toronto horses, which just happened to be packed into the trailer my horse was on.

Once the horses were packaged up we had to change into our uniform in the tack room and then do our last potty break (in a real bathroom, with heat). The Hughestons showed up at 7am so they hooked up the rigs and we started loading. Hughestons were great and had the whole process down to a science. Missy went in first again with her buddy Banjo in next to here. The process in Eaton County was repeated.

Since we were told we were only allowed seven vehicles into the staging areas we had to condense everyone, up to that point we were driving nine vehicles. The entire Manistee Unit climbed in with Nate and his wife Lori (one of the horse transport drivers). So we had six people in a crew cab truck. It wasn’t too bad; Kyle (who is 7’ tall) sat up front and he finally had some leg room.

We were given orders to get into line in the upper parking lot of the PGEC and wait. Several times a military person came up to Nate’s window to give him the same order that the previous military person had just given him and that was, “once we start moving do NOT stop for anyone or anything.”

We sat there for about an hour or maybe a little more and then we started moving. Now remember that Nate was given orders not to stop for anyone or anything. Right as we were getting to leave the PGEC one of the tour buses hauling parade workers pulled right out in front him causing him to slam on his brakes. It is very hard to stop a trailer loaded with 32000 pounds of live horses. Nate was a little vocal about that one. But we got on our way.

We had a police escort and then there were police officers closing all on ramps coming onto the highway, needless to say there were a few angry people at the ramps arguing with the police officers at times. The line of horse trailers and other vehicles was about three miles long. I got a good picture of the line as we crossed the Potomac River going into DC.

Once we got closer to the Mall the real fun started, at least during the transport of the horses into DC. Every time we even slowed to a crawl pedestrians were rushing the streets and trying to cross between the vehicles. One time Nate was still moving at about 5mph and he had people walking out in front of him. 5 mph may not sound like much but remember he had 32000 pounds of live animals in his trailer so stopping on a dime was not an option.

One intersection some how got forgotten by the police and since we were going through on a red light and Nate was concentrating on staying close to the bus ahead so that he didn’t have people trying to cross, a taxi who had the green light came barreling through the intersection. Everyone else in the truck saw him coming and we started yelling. Nate said he looked just in time to see yellow streak across in front of him. He said “I think I need to change my shorts now!” Then because he slammed on his breaks there was a gap between us and the bus people started crossing the street. He at that time was at a complete stand still because people were in his way. He finally had to stand up and was half out of his side window yelling at people to get out of the F*&^ing way. His wife started pulling him back into the truck before he got himself killed. People just looked at him and kept crossing so he just started moving and they did get out of the way.

At another intersection where we got a yard or two behind people started crossing and the police this time was around us on foot and they were yelling at people to get out of the way and one lady decided to keep going and she was tackled by the military right in front of us. We felt like trout trying to swim up river in a heavy current. It was crazy.

Then as we headed down Independence Ave. we did end up getting stopped on a down hill slide. We sat there for what seemed like forever. After about 30 minutes of sitting there I am sure the horses toward the front of the trailers three sections were getting squeezed even tighter. The trailer started rocking back and forth because the horses started getting up set and pushing back. One time the trailer was rocking so hard that Nate jumped out to check what was going on. The trucks emergency brakes couldn’t keep the trailer from pushing the truck forward and we kept moving slowly toward the bus in front of us. Lori ended up jumping over into the driver’s seat and stepping on the brakes.

We finally made it to the staging area. Once we started unloading the horses we found out just what was going on in the trailer. One of the Muskegon horses got loose, out of it’s halter. The halter wasn’t broken, just too lose .

We had 45 minutes to unload and have the horses saddled and all the shipping things put back onto the trailer because they had to leave to allow the next wave of horses and trailers into the area.

End of Part 4

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