THE ROAD LESS SADDLED
With seven horses in tow, Clay and I are hitting the highway!
The snow is flying. The temperature gauge is dipping well below zero. And the Canadian show season is dormant until spring shows up. That means Clay and I are ready to pack up seven of our most elite horses and head down the road, to have a bit of a holiday. We also intend to stop and visit some friends along the way, learn some new things and I’m really hoping to improve my Español – I’ll keep you posted on how that goes…
For now, we intend to travel to Arizona over the course of the next week. We really have no schedule, however, since I do not have a Class 1 (Airbrake License), Clay is the only driver of our rig. That means to safely travel anywhere, Clay can only maintain a maximum certain number of hours behind the wheel. After that, he must be out of the vehicle, resting. His driving and non-driving hours must be documented in trucker’s log, in case we are ever asked to present our mileage at a State Port of Entry or weigh scale.
Leaving Regina early in the morning, our first stop is the Estevan, SK, Tim Hortons. This will likely be our last Timmys coffee for a while so I intend to make the best of it! Two large French Vanillas and a box of donut holes later and we’re on our way again. The next stop is only a few minutes down the road later. We have a scheduled appointment with North Portal’s Federal Vet at 9 am. And once Customs clears our paperwork and passports, our rig is x-rayed and we have finally really begun our big trek!
We have decided to divide our trip to Arizona into four days of travel, with three overnight stops along the way. This will allow us to offload the horses and bed them down for the night, in addition to permitting time for a decent meal, showers and a warm bed for Clay and I. We’ve done the sleep-on-the-side-of-the-road-thing and trust me – stopping for the night makes for much happier travelers. Both of the horse and human variety.
So that’s where www.horsemotel.com came in very handy! Googling from the road, I came across this lovely, stress-saving site. Featuring literally hundreds of stables all across North America, horsemotel.com provided my blackberry with contact information, customer reviews, maps, prices, amenities and facility pictures in some instances. Traveling with 7 horses could be challenging: not everyone has the facilities to house this number of animals, each in their own indoor stall. We will spend Night #1 in Billings, Montana at the Box T Ranch.
Owned and run by Rada Rogers, Box T Ranch is a very clean, accommodating facility equipped with large stalls each with their own fresh, flowing water trough. We have stayed at Box T previously (with 15 horses in tow) and we’re extremely pleased with the fact that Rada could take us in. Our horses are extremely happy about getting off the trailer after a long day. Although we stopped every four hours along the way to offer them fresh water and hay, collectively they have drank very little. Often, bedding the horses down into a stall for the evening allows them to relax enough to consume water. Plus, the Box T Ranch’s stalls are big enough for our horses to move around and have a roll.
Clay gets to work cleaning out the trailer and I begin brushing each of the horses down. With the cooler temps at home, we trailered our mares wearing blankets. Brushing each night helps to keep that film of dirt from developing with prolonged blanket wear, plus I can look their legs over and ensure there are no travel wounds.
Once the horses are fed and looked after, it’s our turn to turn in for the night. We get a room at a hotel nearby and settle in for the evening. Box T Ranch is great in that Rada keeps a close eye on our horses and offers to feed them in the morning, so as soon as we arrive, we can load up and get on the road. The only consideration we have to take into account is to come into the Ranch from the long route: our rig is so big, it can’t negotiate the tight turn of the driveway entrance if we come in from the west side of the approach.
If you’re planning on taking horses to Billings, MT, give Rada a shout – 406-252-4388.
DIRECTIONS TO BOX T RANCH (the west side of the approach):
When you get to Billings take the I-90 Exit 455 – turn at the stop sign and head south to the Flying J – at the light there turn left (east) on Old Hardin Road, go about 300 feet to Becraft Lane and turn right (lane is between the Exxon station and Little Horn State Bank) – proceed on Becraft about 7/10 mile to our sign (3306 Becraft) just across the irrigation canal – turn right and see the big barn off the lane about 1/4 mile.
If you decide to take the long route (east side of the approach):
Go to the Flying J light – turn left (east ) on Old Hardin Road, travel about 1-1/2 mile to \”Noblewood\” – turn right and go until it ends (about 1/2 mile) and turn right on Becraft – proceed to our driveway at 3306 Becraft – turn left at the sign (before canal) – this way will avoid the sharp turn for the larger trailer