BC Ferries

Travelling with my horse – Taking Extra on retreat

On an August weekend I packed up Extra’s things in the trailer, threw my suitcase in the truck and headed to Snohomish, Washington to visit From The Mother Farm for a liberty immersion retreat.  During the packing there was much deliberation.  How many bales should I pack above and beyond the full hay net?  Do I really need the saddle?  (The spiders were unimpressed when I dug out my saddle cover.)  Will I swim? Will it be hot or cold?  Tank tops or sweaters?

I settled on three big square hay bales, carefully stuffing them through the narrow trailer door.  Then like so many packed items, I would haul these big bales right back out once we got home.  (All the food was supplied at the retreat and it was beautiful Washington hay which I could combine with Extra’s regular hay in the net.)  My tank tops would also stay snugly in my suitcase for the most part and I borrowed a down vest at the retreat instead.  Brr.

I plotted my trip carefully on google and printed the map.  It would have been better to follow the signs the old fashioned way.  The directions said, “Turn left on 52nd st.”  (That was an unnecessary detour with a horse trailer.)


The island where I live is gorgeous, but it has a small drawback.  With a horse you can only get off of it by boat.  The journey  is quick as the crow flies.  However,  Extra and I had to travel by road and by boat and we also had to go through customs at the border.  For us the trip was eight hours total, two and a half of which were waiting at the ferry and the border. Another two were traveling in the ship.

Extra is not patient.

I’ve thought of putting a sticker on my trailer, “Caution.  Dinosaurs.”  After about half an hour at the ferry terminal she tired of attempting to kick her way out of my trailer.  She called regularly for her friends, but there were no other horses travelling by ferry on that particular boat and day.

Only seagulls cried above the trailer as they swooped near the ocean.  Extra did attract a lot of attention though and we made many friends.  People described her as “beautiful”, “gorgeous” and “very loud”.  Graham even started filming us and sent the videos back to his family and friends in Britain as part of his trip correspondence.  (I’ve included one of his videos in mine.)

Extra sweated up as part of our road journey and then the long wait at the terminal calmed her down.  I offered her water from the terminal sinks.  The toughest part of the ferry is the loading.  Livestock is loaded directly over the engines in the lowest deck and the turbines rumble ominously below as the semi trucks load in all around and release the loud echoing hiss of their air breaks.  Extra was visibly quaking and was soaked in sweat.

I sat up in the trailer with her and that calmed her down.  She would call if I ever went out of her site.  It was nice to know I counted as a friend.  The ferry ride was uneventful and it was nice to drive off at the end of the trip and leave all the clanging metal behind.

We had to wait two hours at the border, but by this time Extra was starting to figure out the waiting process and she stood fairly quietly.  The ice cream man even offered her a popsicle.  She declined and he wandered away with it while I sweltered in the heat.  He looked like the kind of serious business man who would charge for a rejected grape popsicle so I let him go.

We easily passed customs and sailed on down to Snohomish for our retreat.  More on that later!

How does your horse travel?


Photo credit: Gord McKenna / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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