Yesterday, I swapped my stack of filthy winter blankets for one slender fly sheet.? The blanket rack looks like it's been on a crash diet.? But, now that stack of mad-encrusted fabric is giving me heart palpitations:? I miss my front-loading washing machine! My front loader died over the winter. We're planning to move soon, so I replaced it with a top-loader that cost half as much since we may need to leave the washer behind.? The other reason I hesitated to buy another front-loader is that the last one survived for only 4 years. In good Horse Journal-fashion, when I bought that front-loader I researched all the possibilities, and I talked to horse folks I know who have front-loaders in their tackrooms.? Everyone agreed that front-loaders are fabulous for horse laundry.? For one thing, you can do heavy blankets in them and not sneak into the coin-op laundry lugging trash bags full of blankets or pay a specialist to do your blankets.? The research I did said that the higher cost of the front-loader (typically double that of a top-loader) would be offset by lower water costs, lower energy costs, less detergent needs, less wear-and-tear on your clothes, etc., and the difference would be made up in about 4 years. That turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, with hard rubber bits being thrown all over my laundry room at exactly the 4-year point quadrennial, timed like the Olympics and presidential elections.? It would have cost more to repair than replace (sign of our times'), so out it went.? I quickly realized how much I'd come to depend on it when I found myself stocking up on detergent again and sorting out much smaller loads. Did the fact that I did winter blankets in the front loader and five felt saddle pads at once lead to its early demise'? I don't know.? It was touted to be able to handle the strain.? All I know now is that when we move, a new front-loader will be in the budget.? And I need to find someone to wash my winter blankets.? Darn it.