Tessa Waugh contemplates a new job for her beloved ancient trailer, after a series of misadventures eventually culminates in a loud bang and a missing door en route to a meet
When our ancient trailer arrived three or four years ago, I was thrilled. We’d just got hold of some ponies for Alec and Mary, needed something to drag them around with, and that old, green trailer — which towed my own ponies around aeons ago — symbolised freedom of the most exhilarating kind. Seeing it there in the yard felt like passing my driving test all over again.
My father dragged it up from Wiltshire — a torturous journey made worse due to a detour via the Taunton Vale kennels to collect a horse for Adam and a couple of hound puppies from our friend Guy, who was a master there.
Back in Wiltshire, the old trailer had been in semi-retirement after being replaced by a swankier version in the 1990s. For 20 years it only came out on high days and holidays if more than two people in the family were hunting on a day. Up here it was suddenly required to do hard labour: turning out in all weathers, sometimes three times a week. And it received a lot of abuse.
I was a novice tower at first, insanely stressed with the novelty of introducing two children to riding. I took the mudguard out on a bend one day, and towed it with the ramp down on another. There was one misadventure after another.
‘The old trailer has been feeling her age’
On one occasion the jockey wheel slipped down on the way home. “Mummy, there’s smoke coming out of the back of the car,” a child cried.
We’d been over a couple of cattle grids before anyone noticed and when I got out to inspect the problem, the remains of the tyre were close to catching fire. Alec and Mary obediently rallied to the task of sloshing water over the smoking parts to diffuse the toxic smoke and were laughing their heads off. You can’t say we don’t have fun here.
Recently, despite some tweaks with the welder, the old trailer has been feeling her age. Travelling to the meet on Tuesday, the door above the front ramp finally separated from its frame (something it’s been trying to achieve for years) in the high winds.
There was a loud bang and Jim and Rusty were revealed, looking somewhat puzzled as their heads were exposed to the elements, while the door flapped in the wind like a sailing boat mid-tack.
I had visions of the whole thing taking flight and decapitating an old lady on the village high street. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that and I’ve made another temporary repair with binder twine.
If you’re looking for a trailer to convert for the festival season — falafel stall, champagne bar — I have just the thing.
Ref Horse & Hound; 5 March 2020