It seems like for every one of the blue ribbon moments in my horse life there is also one of THESE...
Yep. That's right. Those screw in your tire moments. I had one of these moments a few weekends ago while hauling horses to a clinic and couldn't help but pause to reflect on more than one or two positive points in what could have been a disastrous day.
First- A fellow equestrian happened to be walking past my trailer and heard the slow hiss of escaping air. This means I was parked and not moving when I discovered said screw in my tire and there was no dramatic "tire explodes and flies off moving trailer at sixty-five miles per hour" story to add to my personal repertoire.
Second- After so many of these moments on the road over the years, I'm prepared. I had my spare, my breaker bar, my breaker bar extender, my trailer aid, and even my torque wrench, and I know how to use them.
But as I paused to change this tire, I reflected on how glad I was that this time the flat did not occur on the side of Highway 40 in the middle of nowhere with no choice but to leave the horses in the trailer while I changed the tire. I hadn't forgotten to get my spare fixed. And I wasn't all by myself in the middle of nowhere either. Still, there are some things that could use improvement.
Sometimes we don't think about the actual accessibility of our tire changing tools. And yes. I had to dig to the bottom of several compartments in the trailer before locating my trailer aid. But, this can also include the spare. I think the longest task during this particular tire change was getting the stupid spare tire off the bolt holder on the trailer because the bolt is crazy long and a little bent.
Lesson? Make sure that your spare tire can be accessed and removed WITHOUT unhooking your trailer. I didn't have to unhitch, but there was a moment when I wondered and I have to say that it wasn't a pleasant feeling.
In this case, I happened to have my wrench, my torque wrench, my breaker bar, and a handy pole I can use to increase my leverage because lug nuts can be HARD to break free sometimes. But, I did have to wonder about the actual number of pounds of torque I'm supposed to hit those suckers with after I put them back on and got ready to torque them into place. I had to look that one up. If I hadn't had cell service, I might have been out of luck.
Lesson? Look that number up and have it ready and in the truck or trailer BEFORE you need it.
And if you have all of those tools above ready to travel with you and don't own a torque wrench, then get one. There's a reason it's difficult to break free a lug nut on a horse trailer or a truck. Ahem. They need to be tight in order to avoid them accidentally falling off in the middle of your haul.
The torque wrench is the tool that allows you to tighten those puppies without being Hercules. It also keeps you from over tightening them with a breaker bar and stripping out your wheel bolts or your lug nuts. And let me tell you, THAT wouldn't be good.
Really the point of this little tale is to say that I want my friends, my students, and my fellow equestrians to be as prepared as I know you can be. I respect all of you because you are CAPABLE. We are horse people. We defy the existence of gender roles and we invented the creativeness in DIY. But sometimes that sense of being able to handle what life throws at us can actually get in the way of real preparedness. It's tempting to have what we need and assume we can figure it out on the fly.
I get that. Believe me, my dad (most awesome dad in the world, btw) has made certain that I can change a tire on every trailer I've had and on every truck that I've had. He's drilled into my head what tools I need to keep with me and how to use them. I wasn't born knowing this information nor did I miraculously figure it out on the side of the highway. While I'm confident I COULD have, I wonder why I would want to. So, as I use this most recent blip on my equestrian radar to increase my preparedness plan, I hope you'll do the same with yours.