Virgin Outlaw

It was only a few days before the 8-9 hour excursion up north to the Bryce Canyon area that I stood in the kitchen responding to some text messages. My mentor was battling some personal/family problems and felt she couldn’t be away from home for that weekend. I respectfully understood, but this meant my friend Katherine and I would have to do it alone.The thought was exciting, but caused a little anxiety at the same time. I have not traveled that far of a distance with my truck, camper, and trailer without the help of my ex-boyfriend. However, I also felt ready to do this. I was already excited for the ride and had begun the early stages of packing and preparing. I already took work off that Friday and had a sub planned to cover for me. Katherine and I finally decided to go for it.

On Friday morning we decided to meet in Flagstaff as it was a great meet up spot. I decided to let the horses drink and stretch their legs at Little Elden and Katherine was able to leave her truck there. Three hours down, six to go! Katherine and I chatted nonstop the entire way there. I think we were both excited to be able to talk horses with each other. As we started approaching Bryce Canyon, there was a lot of “oooooooooooooh!” moments as we saw fall foliage and lots of red rock. We also were excited on the drive into Bryce Canyon as we drove the truck, trailer, and camper through two rock arches. Once we arrived and got the horses settled we sat through a chilly ride meeting and were received to have a 9:15 start time as the mornings were freezing. It actually snowed a bit the night before we got there.

My goal for this ride was to have fun and not get lost, and I definitely hit that goal. I can’t help but be naturally competitive but the rides aren’t fun when I’m trying to keep up with my mentor’s pace as my body is still getting used to long hours in the stirrups. I was taking the “Trot when you can, walk when you can’t” slogan a little too literal. I’m realizing that I can complete an LD even if I allow myself to take walk breaks. I also would like to try to finish without being in a lot of pain. I was having some serious weak ankle issues at Grand Canyon and a much more pleasant ride with Shock Doctor Compression Ankle Braces on this ride.

This was the easiest LD I’ve ever done and fortunately the trails were kind to us to where we didn’t get lost. The trails were off-roading trails so they were wide and fairly flat. We trotted most of the first 12 miles and were surprised when we approached the vet check that we were already there. The XP rides are so kind to their riders at Vet Checks. We had a 1 hour hold, and enjoyed hot dogs, chips, lemonade, and brownies while our horses enjoyed grazing with the beautiful background.

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The second half of the ride we were starting to get a little sore and tired so we took it easy the second half. I already calculated how much time we had to finish and knew we would be able to complete. We did a lot of walking and got to absorb the scenery. We even saw a herd of antelope that we probably would have trotted right past. We ended up finishing even though we accidentally did an extra 2 miles at the end. Annabel completed, but the vet said she was stepping really short on her back left which I thought was unusual. I didn’t see it, but the vet advised me not to do Man Against Horse this weekend because of the difficult terrain. I decided to stick the the vet’s advice and hold off for a few weekends to do Las Cienegas in Sonoita as I knew from Old Pueblo that it’s a fairly easy LD.

This entire trip ended up being a favorite of mine. I feel so liberated that Katherine and I were able to safely do that long drive, being able to operate the camper without the help of a man, grilling steaks for the first time, and being able to ride without a mentor at our own pace for the fun of it without getting lost!

Next Adventure: Las Cienegas in Sonoita, AZ

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Weekend Update 9/18/16

Annabel’s Renegades for her front hooves came in on Friday. They are so pretty to look at. I’m using them as a spare in case her glue ons or shoes come off and I would eventually like to transition her to barefoot.

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On Saturday, my training partner and I rode the competitive track at Estrella Regional Park. We did close to 9 miles in about 2 hours. The first 1/3 was a lot of trotting and Annabel had no problem wanting to trot over the rocks. I encouraged her to slow down or walk but she urged forward. The 2/3 was up and down hills at a walk, and the last part we did a lot of walking as I think the heat was getting to her or she just got tired.

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I also made a trip out to Scottsdale after my ride to look for a full seat breech. Since I gave Andrea her fleece seat cover back I tend to slide around in my saddle (which is leather) a lot with tights. The best fitting pair was a pair of pink full seat breeches by Horseware Ireland as they were the only ones with a modified rise.

I also did a full moon hike at Lake Pleasant in the evening for a few hours where we did a 3 mile guided hike. It was really neat to hike up a hill and watch the harvest full moon rise up and over the lake.

Today, I thought it would be best to see how my breeches would hold up. Andrea and I went to Skyline this morning to do the Granite Falls loop which is a 1.7 mile extension we like to do because it’s flat with some fun little hills that the mares love to do.

Tonight, I’ll probably go hiking for about an hour at Estrella.

So that’s three regional parks I’ve been to in one weekend. I love Arizona.

Grand Canyon Ride

It’s been a very busy few weeks for me as I have been off on adventures the past three weekends in a row. This is the first Saturday in God knows how long that I’ve gotten to sit and enjoy my morning cup of coffee. It’s also been a very busy short week for me.

I left for the Grand Canyon ride last Saturday at 4:30am. The drive was fairly easy and straight forward. I also did something a bit different. I wrote down the directions to the ride without using any sort of GPS. Most of these rides have no address for the base camp and I attempted GPS to the Mt. Carmel ride in May and ended up having to drive my truck camper and trailer through Zion National Park. I arrived to the base camp after 7 hours start to finish with my directions that I had written down. I was a little proud of myself as a millennial to not have to use a GPS and will attempt this now for every ride!

The drive there was beautiful as I passed through the Glen Canyon area on the way to the North Rim.

On Sunday, I ended up riding with another “Zonie” friend named Shannon. Shannon was going to do the 50 but I pleaded how I had no one to ride with in the LD, which ended up being 35 miles. My training partner Andrea did the 50 on Saturday in a saddle she hasn’t used before in a 50 and was too sore to ride with me. The morning of the ride was chilly and it was a strange feeling to have a rain jacket on considering it’s still 100+ in the valley. I bought Annabel a “Rump Warmer” from Riding Warehouse as I was told to be prepared for rain and it helped fend off that morning chill.

The first 10 miles of the ride were down a forest road on a slowly declining flat gravel road. The cold air felt good and Annabel was surprisingly calm while leaving the camp and settled right into a brisk trot with her new Arabian gelding friend “Temptest”. However, my ankles started to give out early on in the ride. I don’t know why, usually they start to get weak the last 5-10 miles. My ankles became numb and started curling under me which was extremely painful. I became miserable and did not get to enjoy the ride. After several more miles I started riding with one hand and gripped the pommel of my saddle with the other to keep me balanced and help me rise in the post. I had a refreshing view of the Grand Canyon which took my breath away and made me forget about the pain I was in.

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I ended up doing 24 miles before the 1 hour hold. That was the longest I’ve ever been in the saddle without a hold. I was hopeful that during the 1 hour hold my Ibuprofen would have kicked in more and my ankles would have felt better but unfortunately that was not the case. After the hold, I trotted off into the woods for about five minutes and my ankles started to give again. I gave up and told Shannon that I’d have to walk the last 9-10 miles. Shannon had prepared for this but we found out during the hold that we had a couple hours to make it back and it could be done at a walk. I decided to just enjoy the scenery and was back. The walk back felt like it would never end, but I was so happy it did unfortunately. I really wish this would have been an enjoyable ride for me.

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However, I did tie Annabel up to another trailer later that evening and got to take a peak at the Grand Canyon for the first time. It was so amazing, I could have looked at it for hours. It’s been somewhere that I’ve always wanted to go but have never gone to see.

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My next ride is in Utah on Saturday September 24th, just two weekends away. I’m a little stressed I have so much to get done in such a short amount of time now that the fall rides are starting to take place. I need to take my Camper in to fix a leak, need to get my sway control welded back on my trailer, I need to take my truck in and get it serviced for an oil change, have my checked, and tires rotated. Annabel is having her wellness exam on Monday. I need to order some new stirrups to help with my ankle pain and a new saddle pad. I need to figure out what I’m going to do with her shoes as she is due September 27th on her back hooves.

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On Sunday, when I eagerly went out for my last conditioning before the Grand Canyon hoping to do about 14 miles I had to abruptly stop about a 1/4 mile into my ride. Annabel was off. She was bobbing her head pretty bad and was off in her trot. I hopped off and was disappointed realizing the only reason that could be happening is her Ground Control shoes that my farrier put on two weeks ago. While checking her feet out I noticed that her shoes had gotten flexible enough that I could peel them back from the heel. I assumed that it was quite possible a small stone may have gotten wedged in there and stressed over my options.

Fortunately, my training partner’s farrier had come out today to do her horse’s glue-on Easy Shoe Performance shoes and he was able to fit me in after my farrier was booked for the week. It ended up working out because I had been wanting those shoes this whole time and had been fighting my farrier over it for about a year now. The farrier said that there was some swelling in her right front near the inner wall but it could have been related to anything. I just hope I can trot her out tomorrow soundly and be able to start and finish this weekend. The other good thing was this farrier was a dealer for Renegades so he was able to try out different sizes and was able to tell me her correct size. I got two things accomplished today that I’ve been longing to accomplish!

I feel like the Easy Shoe Performance shoes are more rugged for the type of terrain I ride in and am hoping it is the solution to all of her problems. I’m hoping Annabel is able to trot out soundly tomorrow but if she’s not I will be taking my training partner’s mustang, Wyatt that I’ve ridden a few times. At least I have a plan B.

Weekend Getaway: Little Elden Springs

Last weekend, I met up with ten other Arizona endurance riders; aka “Zonies” in the refreshing and beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona. This was not the first time we’ve done a meet up, it was actually my second time and we spent a longer weekend up there over Memorial Day weekend. Yet, I still don’t think I could get enough of Little Elden Springs Horse Camp.

We went up on Saturday and came home on Sunday. We did our ride on Saturday which was 12 miles of terrain did a 2000’+ climb up to the San Franciso Peaks and then down the backside on a trail that said “Not Recommended for Horses”. It was a nerve-wracking one hour down the mountain to get to the Heart Trail. I was too afraid to ride Annabel down them mounted but I probably should have stayed on. Once I did eventually get back on her it wasn’t that bad but we were getting lower to the ground! This was also Annabel’s first time wearing Ground Control shoes, a plastic nail in shoe with tread. Although they took a beating with all the rocks, they are still on and we even had no trouble climbing up so boulders.

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“Zonies”

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At the top of the Mountain

IMG_1464On the way down the mountain.

What is really fun about these weekend getaways with other endurance riders is allowing for some downtime. On Saturday, we grilled steaks and salmon with potatoes and corn and on Sunday everyone slowly got up at their own pace and joined us for a breakfast of chorizo and eggs. It’s nice to be able to hang out every now and then without the rush of an early morning ride. Most of us opted out of a Sunday morning ride before we left.

If you’ve never been to or of heard of Little Elden Springs Horse Camp it is a wonderful weekend getaway especially during out hot summer months. The temperatures are cooler and much more comfortable to ride in while the valley battles triple digit weather. All the camp sites are a 40′ max pull through with a picnic table, grill, and some have a “wash rack” and hose. The sites also have hi-lines already up and Annabel loves hanging out on those. In the middle of the camp there is a large stock water tank you can lead your horses up to for a drink and there is also a public restroom. The camp hosts are very friendly and dedicated. They also had no problem bringing me some firewood on Sunday morning. I hope we can get one more trip in before they close in October. Next ride will be at the Grand Canyon and I can’t wait!

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Riding for Fun

I am now over the halfway mark for my first season in Endurance riding and I have to say, this is the most fun I’ve ever had in my 20 year riding career. I thought competing in eventing and show jumping was “fun” yet my years in those sports was hovered by nervousness, anxiety, and stress. The anxiety of showing doesn’t just stem from showing itself, it was a combination of ridiculous expenses, my status as an amateur competitor, and constantly comparing myself to those who had more. I did have some fun times, particularly as a Junior rider growing up in a barn of with other Junior riders and was the main source of my social life as a teenager. However, as an adult, it started to become stressful and people started to become more into themselves. The expenses started becoming burdening, and showing was not fun anymore.

I frequently question in my head what my sisters is doing. She is basically a working student for an asshole of a grand prix show jumper and is afraid to speak up or stand up to him. She works like a slave, about 12 hours a day, 6 days a week and really struggles with expenses. I remember her coming over and staying at my parents house near a big horse show for a week and being so thankful to use conditioner in her hair as it had been a long time since she had done so. She is doing this intense labor, so she can further her skills and move up the ladder to get closer to becoming a horse trainer. Here I am, I’ve had two months off as a teacher, and meet up with my mentor and her friends several times a week to go on fun trail rides all over the valley. I love exploring, I love socializing, and I love that my horse is happy. If it truly makes her happy, than I have nothing more to say, but I’m glad I ditched that lifestyle.

It’s interesting though how endurance is kind of the underground equestrian discipline. Anyone with a horse has heard and seen a variety of equestrian disciplines but speaking of endurance the only thing other horse people tend to reference to is “Arabians”, “Hidalgo”, and “Desert”. Want to know the only thing I knew about Endurance? I learned about “tailing” while scrolling around on Tumblr and thought it was a really interesting thing. Then, I started to research a little more. I think the reason we don’t SEE the sport of endurance is because it doesn’t take place in an arena, the main difference between “Us” and “them”.  When I boarded for 5 weeks in southern California away from my “Zonies” (our Arizona endurance group) I was at a multi-discipline large public boarding barn. There were eventing, hunter/jumper, dressage, reining, and western pleasure trainers riding around in arenas every day and so they expose themselves to each other. In Endurance, our training/conditioning mostly takes place out on the trail and obviously our competition. I think that mostly explains why the general equestrian population is clueless about endurance as I once was (and still am learning). I was actually in a food line at one of my sister’s horse shows over the summer. In front of me was a woman I used to ride with and still follows me on FaceBook. She turned around and hugged me and said “So, you are doing Endurance riding now!” and nearly everyone in the line turned around and looked at me.

Going back to having fun; I am still in awe over some of the incredible experiences I’ve had on my “retired” show mare. Annabel has honestly been a better trail horse than she was a show horse. She too, experienced anxiety of the show life. I love seeing how happy she is out in pasture with her gal pal and training partner Lily. Her show life, as well as most show horses experience 23 hours a day in a 12′ x 12′ box stall for the fear of injury, lack of space, and helped keep her physically clean and free of battle wounds from playing with other horses. I think she loves going out and exploring trails just as much as I do, and she loves the company of other horses. So far this year I’ve completed three LDs with her and as much fun as they were I’ve done so many other fun things! In addition to our weekly meet ups with other Zonies in the valley, and regular conditioning at two Regional Parks both within 10 minutes of my barn with my mentor, I’ve been on a camping trip with my mare which consisted of riding during the day and campfires at nights and I’ve gone out to the lake to play in the water and swim with my horse. Annabel’s mane is growing longer, her whiskers and ears remain uncut and I allow her to just be a horse. I no longer have to get judged by what I am wearing when I’m riding or the tack being used on my mare.

I think the endurance community is a bit cultish; and I don’t say that in a bad way. I say that in a cool, swaggy, “Fight Club”, kind of way. The general equestrian population hears about us but never sees us, and we get to do really fun things with our horses. So far, I think it’s been a great community to get to know. In the winter, there was some arguing in the Facebook groups, and there can be drama, but in person I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and socializing with awesome people. Everyone I’ve met is all about having fun, exploring, and making sure their horse is well-cared for and put first.

My entire riding career has never really worked in my favor except one year. Other than that, majority of the barns I’ve ridden at were an hour away from where I lived,  and struggled to get to horse shows. I’ve ridden with many different trainers and have worn the colors of many show barns and while I had great experiences with a few of them, I also ended up calling bullshit on “trainers” too many times. This year, has been easy for me. I’ve had no problem getting to rides, they are affordable to me and in the region and don’t require you to stay a certain amount of days. If you can do 5 days, great, if you can do just Saturday, that’s fine too. My training and conditioning includes hauling off and riding between two regional parks on a weekly basis, along with meeting other groups around the valley for rides. My mentor is also a fellow boarder making rides and communication easy.

I wasn’t trying to bash on other equestrian disciplines earlier and I understand that everyone has something they truly love. I remember rolling my eyes at my mom who frequently would tell me “Why don’t you just ride for fun?” and my argument would be how I can’t have fun if I am not goal-oriented, and goals directly related to proving it in the show ring. But she was right, and I was wrong. I just needed to find that way to have fun, and now I have, and invite others along for the ride to see that too.

 

 

My “Rig”

Among the Facebook Endurance groups there is a frequent question about trucks, trailers, and how you camp. I decided to go ahead and fully discuss my set up, and why I made the decisions I made. IMG_1106

First off, let me briefly explain that I am a 26 year old single woman with no kids, and own 1 horse. I’ve owned my mare for nearly a decade and showed previously in show jumping and eventing. I work as a teacher, and live with my parents who don’t require me to pay rent which has given me the opportunity to make these purchases (I take care of the house, clean, and do maintenance when they are at their other house in southern CA). I have no desire to want to move out of their house until I decide to get married and I enjoy living with them. They are also a little bit older (late 60’s, early 70’s) and it makes me feel better being able to keep an eye on them and help out.

Purchase #1: My 15′ Nissan Titan

Personally, I am a Ram Truck fan. I would have and still wish I was able to get a Ram Truck, but here’s the deal; my older brother has been a service manager at a Nissan dealership for years now. I knew that my brother would be willing to help me out and cut a lot of BS costs I’d have to pay for if I bought a truck outside of his dealership. I owned a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and was worried about not getting a fair price on my trade in. My brother took in my GC for about $5000 more than what other dealerships priced it at. You see, my family has worked in the car business most of their life. What a lot of dealerships do is they use Kelley Blue Book to give you a fair price on your trade, but one of the tricks they do is they mark your car as “Fair Condition”, instead of “Excellent” to make your car seem at a lower value and that they are being fair to you. My brother took my GC in on “excellent condition” as it truely was in perfect condition. Now, when it came to the truck and after much research, I felt the only way I could safely haul is if I bought the Utility Package Titan with a special tow package, different frame, and is able to pull about 2000 lbs more than a regular Titan. We had to have my truck shipped to his dealership because there were only 3 new ones in southern California at the time. My brother also sold me the truck without making any kind of commission. He was able to sell it to me at the price the dealership paid for it. My Titan ended up being what I call an “upgrade” at $8000 out of my pocket. The other reason why I decided to go with a 1/2 ton truck was because I knew it would be my commuter car. My family once owned a Ford F-250 Diesel truck. That thing was a pain to drive around everyday just to run errands. It made parking difficult as well (and the truck was a piece of shit-Fords suck and always broke down on us even though we bought it new). A lot of people will argue the more truck the better, but a 1/2 ton pick up should have no problem towing a 2 horse BP. So far, I have had no problems and have never felt like I didn’t have enough power. Yes, I can feel the load back there, but I’ve towed from Phoenix to Flagstaff which is up a hill and had no problems and was even able to pass Semis without a problem.

Purchase #2: My Trailer; a Royale by Trails West, 2 horse straight load BP with a ramp.

I fell in love with this trailer while shopping around at a dealership. It felt like it was a luxury BP and loved having a ramp and feed manger. The tack room was extra spacious, and when I decided I wanted this model I had the intention of turning the tack room into an LQ area. The other reason why I bought this model was because it was 7’6″ tall inside and is considered a “Warmblood” trailer. Although my 16hh mare can easily fit into a regular 7′ tall trailer, I didn’t know what my equestrian future would be and if I’d end up buying a bigger horse. I purchased my trailer used from a private seller who had only used it a couple times.

There is a downside but required an easy solution; trailer sway.

Because the tack/dressing room of this trailer is so big, it doesn’t put a lot of tongue weight on which can cause trailer sway. I never recall any issues with trailer sway when I towed a 3 horse slant, because you always had to put at least one horse up in the front closest to the tounge of the trailer. The solution for this was to spend around $500 and buy weight distribution/stabilizer bars, and a sway control mount. I had to get the sway control welded on, but was able to figure out the rest on my own. It made the biggest difference in my towing and I feel much safer. It was worth every penny. 

Purchase #3: My 16′ Lance Truck Camper

So my dad and I tried to make some plans about turning my tack/dressing room into a small LQ area for myself. We just couldn’t seem to make it work and he doesn’t have the most handy man skills to get that job done. I was over sleeping in a tent, my truck, the guilt of inviting myself to stay with someone else, or finding a motel in the middle of nowhere when I did show jumping and eventing. I wanted a place to truly enjoy and call my own. I wanted to not only enjoy riding, but enjoy the camping aspect. I started to research truck campers and decided I was going to get a pop-up camper by Palomino RV which would cover my basic needs. I didn’t know you could get a truck camper for a 1/2 ton but you definitely can! When I went to go look at these pop-up campers I decided to bring my parents along with me. My mom quickly drained my excitement when she noticed these Palomino Pop-Ups had no toilet. My mom is the type of woman who holds her bladder because she refuses to relieve herself in a portable. At horse shows growing up she would actually drive off the property to use a real bathroom. She looked at me in horror and said, “Ashley! You can’t get a camper and not have a toilet are you nuts!”. She proved herself right as I recalled sleeping in a tent in Flagstaff once for a cross country schooling event and froze my buns off trying to squat down and pee behind my Jeep tire at 3am where it was 30 degrees. So I quickly changed my mind and we started looking for a pop-up with a toilet. Then, my mom also noted that these pop-up campers had no AC or heater because the pop-up part is a mesh-like screening. She told me to recall all of the horse shows and horse trials I had been to during extreme weather. I quickly flashbacked to the amount of heat waves, windstorms, thunderstorms, torrential rain, show grounds a foot deep in mud, and literally a blizzard where I had to ditch my tent and go to a crappy motel because the freezing wind attacked it. So then, my search changed to a solid truck camper with AC, Heater, a toilet AND a shower. I ended up getting sold on the great quality a Lance provided and was sold when the salesman told me he’d sell it to me for $5000 under the original sales price since it had been on the lot for some time. My dad once owned an RV dealership and when he supported me on this offer I knew I had to take it (especially since he is really smart about big investments/purchases) Because I no longer had the ridiculous expenses of stupid expensive horse shows, and paying trainers and outrageous board fees, I was able to buy my 2016 Lance 650 Truck Camper in March 2016 and have been gleaming about it ever since.  The Lance 650 is designed for 1/2 tons. At first, figuring out how to back into it, and getting it on and off my truck was frustrating, but now it’s a breeze now that I’ve figured it out. The first night I had to try to take it off after doing my first LD and then driving home a couple hours later for a few hours after being extremely tired I’m not going to lie I sat under my truck and cried trying to figure out how to get it off at 11pm at night. I am so grateful I have a toilet to pee in at 3am, a heater to turn on when the temperature has dipped down into the low 30’s, and an AC that I’ve only been able to run once when I used my ex-bf’s generator. However, I do have this wind tunnel fan thing over my bed which runs off my 12 volt battery if I really need it. I took my 4th trip before I finally decided to use the tiny shower. It was the most miserable but amazing feeling when I did use it because I did my 3rd LD during a heat wave and the humidity was high that day. I was literally covered in dirt from it sticking to me as we got stuck on a single-track for miles behind another group. I didn’t turn the water heater on because I was drenched in sticky sweat so my shower consisted of about 3- 20 second bursts of cold water. But omg, I felt so much better after I got out and was grateful for it. I couldn’t imagine sleeping that night covered in dirt and sweat and would have rather poured a bucket over my head than not showering. Anyways, I love my truck camper, it is my pride and joy, and I love being able to fully immerse myself in the camping experience of being able to cook, pee, shower, dine, watch the rain, color at my dinette, and go on any getaway my little heart desires without having to pay for a hotel.

I love being able to look at Annabel through the window where my dinette is. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent reading, coloring, eating, and watching her through the window during our downtime at rides.

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My truck camper is my happy place. I definitely gave it a touch of my love and style.

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Here is a list of the upgrades that were necessary to make sure that my truck can safely tow both my horse and my camper.

Upgrades:

  1. Utility Package on Titan (~$2400?) I can’t find the exact number because they no longer are making my Titan they are only making Frontiers and the new big XDs. Allows me to tow 2000lbs more than a regular Titan. 
  2. Brake Controller Installation in truck (under $100)
  3. Equalizer Bars/Weight Distribution Hitch/Sway Control (under $500 at Camping World) on truck and trailer.
  4. Tie Down Bracket Installation on Truck for Camper ~$800
  5. Rear Suspension on Truck so Camper doesn’t weigh down the rear axle ~$800-$900.

Other/Misc:

  • I keep an electric tire pressure pump ~$50 in my truck at all times and check my tires with a tire gauge before all my long trips or about every month.
  • I have both my horse trailer and my truck camper on my AAA insurance policy which includes theft. My insurance plan is unique for RVs.
  • I print out my directions for long trips on MapQuest instead of using Navigation (which I have in my truck) so I don’t take my eyes off the road and already have an idea of where I’m going.
  • I listen to CDs when hauling so I’m not fussing with my phone while driving.

Pros of my Set Up:

  1. My truck is fairly easy to drive around town and to work.
  2. Annabel likes the ramp of my trailer more than the step up of our previous trailer. You just have to always sweep the hinge of the ramp or it won’t be able to close all the way.
  3. You don’t have to hang hay bags up like a slant trailer because it has mangers.
  4. I can check on her during travel  and offer water by opening the door to the tack room.
  5. I love my tack/dressing room and enjoy cleaning and organizing it during my downtime at rides.
  6. Owning a bumper pull/tag-along makes it quick and easy when hauling to local regional parks for conditioning. Easier to park, and less stress when going to gas stations than a gooseneck.
  7. I can use my truck camper for more than just rides whereas a GN LQ your stuck with the horsey part even if you just want to camp without horses. I can not only camp without my horse and go with girlfriends instead, but can use it for when I go on family beach trips, concerts, and tail-gating at football games.

Cons of my Set Up:

  1. My trailer did sway before I added that kit to it.
  2. My truck is less powerful than bigger trucks but so far I’ve not had any issues. It tows my camper and trailer like a champ.
  3. My truck is a gas guzzler- can’t argue that.
  4. I have to take my tail gate off to put my truck camper on. This gets rid of my backup camera which makes hooking up a bit more challenging and I have to have someone around to help me get my tailgate on and off.
  5. It takes about 20 minutes to get my camper on and then hook up the trailer. I’m sure a gooseneck is probably like 5 minutes. If I don’t have to put my camper on it’s pretty quick to hook up since the backup camera is hooked up.
  6. Goosenecks are supposedly safer and the more secure way to haul.
  7. I have to “climb” to get up into my camper because its usually hooked to the trailer and didn’t come with stairs.

Final Thoughts

Even though I have equal pros and cons listed, it doesn’t justify them as all equal. Some things aren’t as big of a deal as others. If I had to go back and change anything I wouldn’t. I’m really happy with my set up and big purchases I’ve made. Sometimes I wish I could have gotten a Ram 1500 or 2500 but I know I’d be cursing at myself when I have to park the 2500 and am not sure if things would have turned out the way they did if I had to pay significantly more for a truck and lose significantly less on my Jeep as a trade in. I most definitely wished I could have gotten a 4×4 because I’ve scratched my head a few times hoping I could get out of some areas but I didn’t have the option to get a 4×4 truck. Yes, you can safely tow with a 1/2 ton pickup which is a frequent debate on forums and groups even though the most common answer is get more truck. Having a big truck can be a pain in the ass, and my 1/2 ton is able to do the job I’m asking it to do. I made sure I made the necessary purchases to make sure I can haul everything safely. I’ve had many, many people stop by my set up and raise their eyebrows at my Titan with my camper aboard concerned about the weight or ask if it was the new XD diesel at a first glance. I’ve also had gooseneck owners envy my set up and saying how they wished they’d just gotten a little BP or how they wished they could camp without the horses if they wanted to without a big LQ horse trailer. My set up works for me, it may not work for everyone else. As I mentioned before, it’s usually just me by myself, or a friend tagging a long. I don’t have a husband or kids where I need extra room or extra horses. I have no doubt in my mind that someday when I’m married with kids I will have that big Ram 3500 Dually with a beautiful Lakota 3-4 horse trailer, but right now this is what works for me. My dad also raised me on the power of investing as he invests in real estate. A lot of people are bitter towards me and my truck/trailer/camper lifestyle but I consider it a living bank account. Rather than having my savings for a house sit in a bank, I’m using it to enjoy these things; in which my trailer and camper do not depreciate that fast. If it came to hard times or when I’m ready to buy my own house I’m prepared to sell these things if I had to.

I hope you found this useful, and I understand that honest opinions are important for others when making big purchases.