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  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Factory-made horse trailer
had its share of problems

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
In today's world, it's hard to realize the common, tandem-axle horse trailer came onto the public scene only about 40 years ago.

Sure, there have been homemade trailers since an abandoned Model T differential had a wooden box wired on top with baling wire. But the real, honest-to-goodness factory-made horse trailer is not that old.

When we hauled horses from 1939 into the 1940s we used a regular grain truck with stock racks. Single horses were hauled in a stock rack fitted to the bed of a pickup. Usually, you gritted your teeth at the hot or cold weather and trotted your horse across country to your destination.

Our first ranch tailer was a steel cage built out of an oil-field sucker-rod mounted on a truck axle with no springs. Our trailer was so heavy the pickups could hardly pull it, and with no springs we could ride horseback as fast as we could pull the trailer. Out on the highway, the trailer became outright dangerous to pull.

I think we bought our first factory-made horse trailer from Bud Berry on Amarillo Boulevard at the Fritch Highway intersection. It was a Hale trailer with a wooden floor, wooden sideboards mounted in a steel frame and was a dream to pull down the highway.

Not so out on the ranch because every feed road was laid out with wagons long ago and had ruts so deep the new trailer dragged high center continually.

Welders like Glenn Studebaker of Pampa made a living building new rear pickup bumpers that were stout enough to pull the loaded horse trailers. Other adjustments had to be made as most ranch horses didn't like this newfangled, rattling contraption.

Ranchers and cowboys paid a price for this time-saving device as they quickly learned to fix flats. Tire tools, jacks, tire-patching stuff, a portable air tank and an air compressor became a common sight in rural shops.

Some days, the horse-trailer owner spent half his time cussing flat tires or trying to load his stubborn livestock. Other times, his normal day's work could be finished in half the time by utilizing his wonderful new horse trailer.

Ironically, the Old West horse that stood patiently tied to the hitching post at the local saloon awaiting his owner was now replaced by a trailer load of horses waiting patiently outside the local coffee shop for their owners to "saucer and blow." Some things never change.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
- July 1, 2005 column
 
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