As you might have guessed I do not pack my own bags as hooves are not the best appendages for packing things. But my human, Ma Leueen, does a very good packing job. In a few days I will be leaving on the trip South. The morning that I leave Carl, the barn manager, will arrive at the barn extra early. We horses will all start nickering. Carl will think this is just because we are going to have breakfast early but actually we will all be nickering about my departure. “Looks like you’re on the road today Biasini.” “You’re lucky getting out of the winter weather.” “See you in the spring!” Carl will give us our breakfasts and also he will give me something for my stomach for the trip. Ma Leueen says is it called Gastra FX and she said she wrote a review about it so you can read that if you like. I love the stuff. It is delicious and I slurp it up.
Oh…I forgot to say where I’m going. Florida. I’ve been before a few times . I like it because I hate being cold. The transport van will pick me up just as daylight breaks. There may be other horses already on board . They take six horses in all and we all have box stalls. Small but comfortable enough and room service gives us hay and water.
The first stop is at what they call the Border. This is where we go into a different country . And here, my human readers, is where the problems can start. Paperwork! Before I can get into this other country I must have veterinary papers all neatly filled out by Ma Leueen’s vet. He came to see me last week and examined me, took some blood out of my neck for something called a Coggins test and filled in diagrams that show every marking on my body. These papers then have to be sent to a government office. I will whisper what this office is called because I don’t want the other horses to hear . It’s called the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Can you believe it? I know they do a lot of stuff but why do we horses have to be put into the food category? Don’t answer that! I don’t want to know!
These papers, officially stamped will be given to the inspection vet at the border. If there is something not correctly filled in I would not be allowed to continue on. Yes! Let me tell you a couple of stories.
One time we got to the border and the vet said one of the horses had papers that were bogus. Bogus! That’s what he said. Something was wrong with that horse’s papers. So we had to wait and wait and wait and then the horse had to be unloaded. Poor guy. We all wished him luck. It wasn’t his fault the papers were bogus!
Last year when I was coming back from Florida the transport arrived and the driver told Ma Leueen that there would only be four horses travelling because two that they had gone to pick up did not have the right paperwork and had to be left behind. Not the horse’s fault! I’m lucky that Ma Leueen has good vets and they get all the details right.
Once we are through the border we all start feeling more relaxed. Sometimes we have race horses on board. What a crew they are! And what a crazy life they lead. They get ridden by people they don’t even know. They have to get into a cage thing and then the front of it flies open and they run like hellfire has just broken out and then it’s all over. They just think the rest of us are all sissies. That does not go down well with the horses who are Eventers. They start yakking on about their cross country events and the gigantic jumps they have to gallop over. So the race horses and the eventer horses all try to outdo each other with how amazing they are. If there are other dressage horses on board we just remain silent. Silent and superior! We are the most highly disciplined and highly trained of the lot of them.
We have some stops along the way and the drivers come on and give us some more hay and top up our water buckets. We go all day and then on into the night. On and on and on. Then it is daylight and it is getting warmer. Then they come and take off our blankets that we’ve had on for the Canadian winter weather.
One time we had a breakdown. We didn’t know what was happening. We were on a flat stretch of road and it was quite warm and sunny. We stopped and no one came round with hay or water. Time ticked by. One young race horse started to cry. She was pretty young and hadn’t travelled much. I asked her what was wrong and she said she didn’t feel well. “Have you been drinking your water?” I asked her. “No,” she said. “ Well you better drink as much as you can now,” I told her. It’s important to drink lots on the trip or you can get really bad stomach ache. One of the horses who was up near the front said he could hear the two drivers talking. He said they were saying there was something wrong with the engine. “Oh, great” I said. “ Oh no. We’ll be stuck here for ages. “ said the horse next to me. “We should protest about this,” came a voice from the back; a young race horse colt. The rest of us just laughed.
We were stuck there for a looooong time. Finally they brought another truck and we went on. “Whew, that’s a relief” said the horse next to me. The youngster started crying again and I told her to “ Pull yourself together. We’re going again now and you’ll be fine. Drink some more water.”
We all know when we have arrived in Florida because we have to stop at the Agriculture Station. There the papers have to be examined again. This is because they don’t want any sick horses coming into the State. If we have some newbies on board they get all excited thinking that we are in Florida and the journey is almost over. “Take it easy,” I tell them. “ We still have about six hours to go.” I always try to appear calm and knowledgeable but truth be told once we hit that Ag station , even with six more hours to go I start to get excited and I have to tell myself to just ‘chill’.
If we have eventers they will get off at Ocala. They say it is cooler there and there are hills and they “must have hills” for their cross country training. If there are jumpers and dressage horses they get off at Wellington. The race horses sometimes get off at a training center before Wellington and sometimes go right down to the race track at Miami. After 30 hours or more I am always glad to arrive and be taken off. I always say thank you to the drivers as they drive steadily with us so we can stand easier. Ma Leueen is always there to meet me.
This year I am going to a different barn so I’m a bit nervous about that but Ma Leueen will have everything sorted out when I get there because she goes down a couple of days before me.
I’ll be posting again from Florida to let you all know how it’s going down there. Here’s a video of me loading up for the trip home last spring.