by John L. Fuhring

The Big Break and Arrival

     What happened next almost makes one believe in divine intervention and that maybe miracles do happen.  Remember, this vehicle had no functional safety chains and no emergency brakes and for the last 900 miles we had been going up and down steep slopes and around curves at highway speeds of 60 to 70 MPH !

     After leaving wardrobing, we were driving up a mild incline on Rodeo Drive (a 2 lane road within the city limits) at about 25  MPH when the steel bracket that the ball mount attaches to suddenly fractured and dropped the front of the trailer onto the pavement.  The "safety" chains immediately disengaged from the hitch as the spring clips instantly broke and the trailer with all the horses aboard began to skid down the road on its nose.

     Dan, our driver immediately saw that we no longer had a trailer and came to a rapid stop.  I jumped out of the motorhome as soon as we were going slowly enough and immediately smelled burnt rubber.  Just about this time it really started to rain and rain hard.  A big UPS truck was right behind us and had come to a panic stop to avoid hitting the trailer, hence the burned rubber smell.  It really was a miracle that this mishap occurred where and when it did and that the trailer didn’t cross the yellow line or was going fast enough to flip over.

     We had two tons of horses and three or four hundred pounds of gear in this heavy rusty steel  trailer (including 4 five gallon water cans, several bags of feed, a full bail of alfalfa and even my 55 pound anvil among other things).  The nose of the trailer was flat on the ground and we had no way to get it up since the trailer jack was one of the many other things that didn’t work on this old piece of junk.

     I suggested we unload the horses and gear so we could pick up the front of the trailer, but that suggestion was roundly rejected.  The other guys were afraid the horses would get away from us and be hit by cars (remember, my horse was the only one tied up with its lead line and we would have to take the time to fish out the lead lines for the other horses - great emergency planning).  I reminded them that we were on a 2 lane road and we could easily block  the other lane while we unloaded but, you know how far my suggestions get. I next suggested we get our small floor jack under one of the trailer’s sub-members and jack it up that way.  At first that was rejected because it was felt that we would "damage" the trailer if we lifted it that way.  In the end we had no choice but to use the sub-member.  We started lifting the front of the trailer (horses and all) by the sub-member and it worked without damaging anything.

     At last we were able to get underway after another RV gave us a good spare hitch.   We then proceeded the 20 or so miles to where the movie set was and then a couple more miles beyond that to a cattle pen that we were to use as stables for our horses.  More alarm bells, but we were able to make comfortable pens for our horses by closing gates and erecting barriers between sections of the cattle pen.

     Because we were  the first to arrive and had first choice of what was there, we could improvise comfortable stalls  for our horses.  The people who arrived later had to hitch their horses up to the steel railings of the pens and that’s how the poor animals had to spend their nights.  My horses have spent many a night picketed up like that and it doesn’t hurt them especially except that we always have a guard posted in case the animals should get tangled up in their ropes.  This was a very bad arrangement and there should have been portable stalls set up for our animals.

     In addition to the other shortcomings of these "stables" there were no provision for emergencies, there was no veterinarian on call or any way to telephone one after everyone left for the evening.  No one had a cell phone and I doubt if one would have worked way out there anyway.  Believe it or not, this movie set and our "stables" were a full 40 miles away from the motel where we were required to stay.  Again, that night Bob’s appy drank little or nothing.

     We were surprised and delighted to discover a large and elaborate "western town" set built on the site (from the earlier motion picture "Silverado").  Most of the buildings were full scale and functioning structures.  The Saloon was full scale and decorated.  The livery stable was fully functional and was full to the rafters with horses and mules belonging to the wagon and stage coach extras.  We had a great time walking the streets, visiting "stores" and taking each other’s pictures.

Silverado saloon

Silverado street life

Later we drove the 40 miles down to the town of Moriarty and checked in to the Motel 8 that the company had rented out for us.  Even the locals were required to stay at this motel while filming was going on (don’t ask me why).  The rooms and the showers were clean and with two to a room, it sure beat sleeping in army  tents on the ground.