Friday, June 2, 2017

Jolene and Her Trailer

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Meet Jolene and her trailer.

At long last, this post closes out a saga I've been wanting to tell for a long time.

At the beginning of February, I bought a trailer. While I wanted to crow my joy to the world about this huge step in my equine life at that time, I held off. Why? Well, succinctly as possible: I was in the process of moving to Canaan, had a vacation upcoming, work devolved into a total shitstorm (and has only built in strength since), I wanted to get the horses moved before sharing, and then I began truck hunting. Thus order to not complicate the storytelling or jinx the truck hunt, I opted to wait until most of these events found some sort of resolution/conclusion.

The Trailer

When I began trailer hunting, I had several definite criteria: I knew I wanted a two-horse bumper pull, I knew my budget and knew I wanted something in solid used condition, and I knew how far I was willing to drive to pick up a trailer. I also limited myself to smaller two-horse trailers that did not have a dressing room because I simply wasn't certain what kind of haul vehicle I'd end up with ultimately.

Because I had hauled with a two-horse bumper pull with mangers for the past 4 years, I began looking at those. Knowing the cons of a trailer with mangers though, I switched gears and started exploring other two horse options that would be more comfortable for the horse.  I perused copious ads online, interacted with multiple sellers (and scammers!), and ultimately ended up with this 1994 Valley TB.

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It is in great shape structurally and should serve me very well as a first trailer. The worst thing about it is that one of the hinges (there are three) on the ramp has some significant rust. The hinge has been "bandaged" for the summer by a local welder and will be fixed in full in another couple months (it is totally safe for the horses right now, I just want to get it resolved before it becomes a bigger issue down the road).

I plan to give the trailer a fresh paint job later this summer to really freshen it up and put a stall on the inevitable rusting that occurs due to my climate. I also plan to install several hooks and bars for storage of bridles, halters, and saddle pads and hopefully some over the door hangers with zippered pockets for grooming supplies and other small odds and ends. Other larger items will be hauled in the truck.

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I've loaded each horse on the trailer already with very minimal issue. They were each wary of the ramp at first, but once they realized it was just a part of the trailer, all loaded much quicker and more easily than they ever did on the step up we'd been using. I've always wanted a trailer with a ramp and I'm glad my horses approve of that decision. I'm certain they will also appreciate the more airy nature of this trailer compared to the shorter, stuffier trailer we've used in the past.

The Truck

I'd like to say first and foremost: I hate car shopping. Especially used car shopping. I don't enjoy wheeling and dealing. I'd rather spend money up front to avoid hassle and haggling.

I was spoiled when I bought my Subaru a few years ago because I did so through the Subaru VIP program. This program is haggle-free. Essentially, those with access to the program design the car they want, tell their dealer of choice who participates with the program, and then you just sign the necessary paperwork, provide a down-payment, and wait for the car to arrive. I dreaded truck hunting because I knew it would be a far cry from this experience.

I started my truck hunt by enlisting the help of a friend who knows trucks very well and buys a LOT of vehicles at a wholesale auction every year. He's got capital, knowledge, and man power to turnover these vehicles after fixing what are usually very minor problems. He also LOVES wheeling and dealing so the whole process is quite a fun side business for him.

I paid him a small fee to help me find a good truck that met my budget and my criteria. About a month after we spoke, I had a truck. A 2004 red Ford F-150 with 57,000 miles. It had originally belonged to an older gentleman who had passed away; it then sat idly for a few years until ended up at auction. It was in great shape and passed my buddy's mechanic's inspection beyond noting that there was some more advanced rust in places. He told me he's personally driven much worse and had no problems.

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But the rust issue ate away at the back of my mind. I just couldn't risk putting the truck through it's paces hauling my horses without being absolutely certain it was structurally sound to handle it. I refused to risk the safety of my animals.

I shared with a few people that I was thinking about selling the truck and getting something with less rust. Remarkably, of the three people I told I was selling the car, one mentioned it to a friend who mentioned it to another friend who was very interested. And that's how I sold a truck I'd had for 2 weeks to the first buyer interested without every writing or posting an ad. I also profited handsomely from the deal because I bought the vehicle for way less than it was worth originally.

My friend who helped me get the truck informed me upon it's sale, "That's hustlin', baby!" That it was...I'll never get lucky like that again!

And so from there I spent another month scouring cars.com and CarGurus for better options. I also enlisted help along the way from several gearhead friends: a mechanical engineer who works for Cummins, a US military (multiple branches) trained mechanic, and an encyclopedia of truck knowledge who is active in the horse-world. The knowledge and advice they lent me guided and honed my truck hunt.

There were a lot of near misses. So many potential options that I almost went to get. But each time I thought I'd found "the one" something would happen to prevent it from working out. When I finally found what I thought was "the one" and told the dealer I would be there the next morning, early, he called me back 45 minutes later to let me know he'd just sold it to someone else. This was the icing on the cake to what had been an exceptionally SHITTY day for me. I threw my hands in the air in exasperation and declared NO MORE TRUCK SHOPPING FOR A WEEK.

Yeah. That lasted about 15 minutes. I cooled off and cautiously started looking again. And then I found her. A 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500HD originally from Texas with a nearly spotless CarFax, no rust, a mean brush guard, and overly-aggressive tires.


Laughing to myself, I forwarded the ad to my engineer buddy, "Look at THIS bad boy"
"I mean, I might go get that?"
"lol like now?"
"I like that truck a lot."
"If it's still there on my day off, I'll call, and if it passes all of my tests, I'll go get it."

Well, it was still there on my day off, passed the tests, and I got it.

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Turns out, this dealer specializes in heavy duty trucks. They've been in this business for 38 years and tend to get almost all of their inventory from Texas because they know east coasters try to avoid shopping for used vehicles with lots of rust. The only reason this truck was within my budget is because it has a lot of cosmetic blemishes, so they listed it for much less than they had originally planned. Win for me!

It's a meaner truck than I ever thought I'd get. I still giggle every time I see it in the driveway.

The first of my friends to see me driving the truck just started laughing and shaking his head. He gave the truck a good once-over, grinning, and then looked at me and simply said, "Angry!" Yep. Pretty much. Angry. And the fact that little ol' me is driving it? Ridiculous.

I'd joked with a coworker when I originally found the truck that if I ended up getting it I'd name it "The Texan". However, I couldn't help but want a more feminine truck name for the big girl, so in line with being from Texas, I decided to choose a very country sounding name: Jolene.

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For the first time in my horse career, I have true freedom. A capable haul vehicle and a trailer that I own and am not borrowing. While incredibly grateful for the borrowed trailer and my 4Runner over the past 4 years, I'm so happy to have a more solid setup now. I anticipate I'll upgrade to larger trailer eventually, but for now, this little one will serve all of my needs.

I'm eager to dive into my competition season with TWO disciplines this year now that I have the ability to do so. I've penciled in 4 HTs, 1 dressage schooling show, and 1 LD for the year. I also am looking forward to taking some lessons (dressage and jumping) with a local-ish Centered Riding instructor once or twice a month. So many exciting experiences I've always dreamed of loom on the horizon! Cheers to a great season.

How about you? Do you have your own truck and trailer? Did you suffer through the shopping for them or do you enjoy the wheeling and dealing thrill of the hunt?

32 comments:

  1. Congrats! There's nothing like having your own truck and trailer. I love my truck, but it's 17 years old and I am dreading having to replace it.

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    1. Hopefully with good upkeep and your life in a world of not lots of snow will keep it rust-free and operating a long time to come!

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  2. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

    ADVENTURES AWAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Also yea truck shopping fucking blows.

      But yesssssssss!!!!!!

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    2. I look forward to seeing you at least once a month into the future! My goal is to do the Loch Moy fall series! (Well, 1 and 3, I'm gone for 2.)

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  3. My trucks and trailer both sort of fell into my lap, so I didn't have to do a horrific amount of shopping. I'm sure when I go to replace either of them at some point in the future it will be hellish, just to make up for that 😂 so glad you have your own wheels now though! And that is a badass truck!

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    1. PS I also love the name. My diesel is named Brienne (if you're a GRRM/GOT junkie). She's not pretty, but she gets the job done 😉 I love naming trucks....haha.

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    2. That's a damn good name for a truck! And yeah, Jolene isn't pretty everywhere, but so long as she runs well and hauls well (yes and yes so far!) I'm happy.

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  4. There is nothing like the joy of your own truck and trailer. Congratulations on both!

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  5. Jolene, I can't wait to meet you!

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    1. You'll hear her before you see her ;-)

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  6. Ya congratulations! What a journey!

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  7. Congrats!!! I despise shopping of any kind. We bought our trailer new during a horse fair which got us a great deal since the dealer didn't want to take it back home with him and it was the final day of the fair. I already know what I want to upgrade to someday in the far off future but for now I love my trailer.

    Have fun this summer with all those events on the schedule. I can't wait to read about it all.

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    1. I already know what I want to upgrade with, too, haha. And this truck can definitely haul it. So now it's a matter of money, so probably about 3 years from now.

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  8. Too cool!! I think that's going to be my next big bridge to cross and it's daunting. Glad you have a setup you like!

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    1. So daunting haha. Hopefully you'll find the perfect combo when you do start shopping. I feel like Idaho has to have more options for good trucks with the amount of farm/ranch country.

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  9. Trading that rusted out Ford for a beast of a Chevy. Mike would be proud ;)

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    1. He told me as much when I fired him an inquery on FB messenger during my search. His reply was the best one-stop-shop for info on each maker out there. I wish I'd thought to reach out sooner. But yeah, the more people I talked to the more people recommended Chevy over Ford. I'd said for years I wanted a Chevy, but then didn't follow through. HA. The number of rusty Fords I discovered through this process has me turned off from them.

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  10. You know we love our Chevy. 😜 A lot of research went into choosing ours. And I get the same feeling driving our Beast truck around. There's something empowering about being a tiny girl in a big-ass truck!

    Congrats on having your own hauling setup now! :)

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    1. All of our guy friends have asked Dave how he feels about his girlfriend having a bigger, meaner truck than him now. lololol

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  11. I don't see any rust on the red truck! But great job on Jolene, you can upgrade your trailer several times and still keep Jolene around.

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    1. The rust was on the undercarriage - the frame in particular. And YES. I am so excited that I won't have to worry about upgrading my whole setup when I get a bigger trailer!

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  12. I'm totally excited for you. Getting my first truck and trailer was the moment I walked into another chapter in my life - pure bliss. My first trailer was covered in rust and my first truck was a Chevy 1500 Cheyenne. My trailer was heavy enough (extended tack room, warmblood size) that the 1500 could not pull it very well, so I upgraded to the 2500 Silverado crew cab long bed and my life was complete. The canopy made tenting a distant unpleasant memory. 4x4 meant I never had to be rescued by tractors. I have a large photo of my Silverado in my barn right now, and I show everyone who visits, "It's 7.1 meters long. (20 feet)" No one here can fathom it. One day, I'll have such a truck again. Just, not in this country. A truck like your Jolene is ridiculous/impossible in Europe.

    Also, if I'd bought a Ford (which I almost did from a fellow endurance/cmo rider), my family would have been very disappointed. You seem sensible about brands - did you know Subaru Foresters pull horse trailers here? I had a precious Subaru named Yfandes when I was in college.

    SO happy for you. There is almost nothing* better than this freedom, never having to rely on others. I never cared about it when I did dressage. The show barn took my horse to the shows. But the day I crewed my first endurance ride, everything changed. Must have truck and trailer - now!

    * - Buying your own horse property and bringing your horse home and seeing him out your window every day......

    Welcome to this chapter of your life!

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    1. A SUBARU FORESTER?! The hell... Though I do suppose Europeans have some smaller trailer options than we do based on photos I've seen. The US is unique in our love of big honkin' vehicles.

      My family has always had Toyotas and Fords. I'm the first Chevy owner. But my research showed that this was the best option for what I want to do and having a reliable truck is what really matters.

      And, yes, I think bringing them home would be the ultimate best thing ever. But alas, that will never be unless we sell our beautiful home and moved elsewhere. I'll be happy to simply own land close by and have them there. Most of my horse friends in the area have separate farmettes where they keep their horses all within a 10 minute drive.

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    2. You brought a Chevy into a Ford family! Wow. Most have separate farmettes (I'm not sure what a farmette is)...? You live in another world! If I'm right at my guess, it sounds like Germany in a way - there are pastures in the middle of nowhere and people put up an electric fence with a solar charger and leave their horses there for the Summer. And drive by every day to refill the water trough. It's so odd, cuz there are no houses in the area. And the halters hanging right there on a tree....

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    3. Haha I coined "farmette" this morning instead of writing out "small acreages with a barn and run-in shed used specifically for housing horses and no other livestock that don't have other property like a residence associated with them". So yeah...sounds a lot like what you describe! Except fencing tends to be more permanent.

      I'm looking to buy property like this, but finding some for the right price and the right acreage will take patience. =)

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  13. First off - congratulations!!! how very exciting!!!!!

    I hate shopping for vehicles. All three of my trailers came about with very little looking on my end and there was very little dealing. I basically let my husband buy my cars and trucks. They've all been used and have ended up being great vehicles for me. but I basically find a vehcile that's already in my price range, which I'm very strict about and either I pay the price i want, or I don't buy. Period. Has worked well so far. The truck and trailer buying is more stressful than cars......freedom with my horses MATTERS. I can be quite inventive when I need to go to work, but when it comes to getting the ponies out on trails that is SERIOUS business and I have no tolerance for something that can't be used absolutely reliably.

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    1. I agree 110% with your reliability comment. That was a big thing for me throughout the shopping process. I didn't need new and shiny but I DID need reliable without needing a ton of maintenance. Truck is in the shop getting some basics done today to prepare us for many years of fun!

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  14. Congrats!!! I can't wait to join the truck/trailer owner club again :) The transmission on our truck just blew... I was halfway there until two weeks ago haha. Looks like you have a great set up!

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    1. OH NO A BLOWN TRANNY! That's the pits!! Hope you're able to get it resolved without breaking the bank.

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