The Cost of Towing

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I took my own advice last week and sold my horse trailer.? While I know for sure that this was good advice, I won?t know for several months?or maybe even several years?whether it was the right advice.

I wrote an article for Horse Journal a couple years ago on the cost of owning a horse trailer, including the towing vehicle.? (Look it over for yourself in the July 2010 issue?it's free online if you have a subscription.)? While there are a lot of variables, I determined that you need to be using your trailer every three or four weeks to justify its cost vs. hiring someone to haul your horse for you.

This formula doesn't take into account convenience and the very satisfying knowledge that you can take your horse any where you want to, any time the mood strikes.? But, it did provide real food for thought.? When I realized I hadn?t showed as much as I'd planned in the last two years and hadn?t hitched up the trailer more than twice in that time (not counting moving it away from hurricane-damaged trees), I started thinking maybe it was time to sell.

First, I considered what it would take to get the trailer in condition to attract buyers.? I owned a dinosaur ?a steel trailer.? The underpinnings were sound, but it needed body work.? I went in search of a trailer shop and learned that there wasn?t one set up to service steel trailers within a two-hour radius.? They all did only aluminum trailers.? While I was considering my next move to a regular body shop, I got an offer for the trailer and took the quick way out.

Next, I considered my truck, which has 150,000 miles on it, but it's our only vehicle with four-wheel drive and is still in good condition.? So, it stays in the family, even though we are soon moving from the New York-metro area to the foothills of North Carolina, where winter snow totals are measured in inches rather than feet and where this past winter they got zip, not even ice.? If we sell that truck, next winter is sure to be their worst on record.

Finally, I'm left to mull whether I've made a seismic shift in how and why I own a horse.? I love to show.? In order to show, I need to get to the shows. My Oregon pioneer heritage left me with the attitude that I need to be able to take care of myself, including everything it takes to get to a show, and often I travel alone.

I don't feel I can do that anymore, though, especially facing New York-area traffic and bridges.? When we get to North Carolina, where the terrain is flatter and the drivers are more benign, I'll reconsider.? Maybe.

My trainer there says they haul to local shows.? I'll do another cost analysis and some soul searching.? I recall the glorious feeling of freedom 40 years ago when I bought my first trailer, but the cost of that freedom now often feels too high.