My sister and I were driving southbound on Interstate 15 going to a team roping jackpot. We had two of our best horses in the trailer who have excelled greatly in the roping pen. The other two horses were not far behind them. It was bound to be an exciting weekend of competing. We had been driving for a few hours and were still a couple hours out. The drive was going smoothly, nothing too eventful had happened along the way, yet. There were a couple deer that we dodged that were standing in the road when we were driving through the mountains. Otherwise, the drive was pretty easy thus far.
Looking down at the fuel gage I decided we’d better stop at a gas station to fuel up before getting into town. That would have been a touch difficult with the thirty foot trailer behind us. I pulled off at the next exit and rolled up next to the pump. Letting my Dachshund out of the pickup, I quickly swiped my card and started pumping diesel, then took her to go potty. She was full of energy and was meeting every trucker that we passed on our way to a patch of grass behind the gas station.
When I returned to the pump, I put the nosel back in its compartment and climbed back in to the driver’s seat and called for my dog to jump in. Once we were all settled, I headed back towards the interstate. Enjoying the soft snowflakes that had started falling I looked up to see a lady in a smaller vehicle come blowing through the stop sign that we were just about to pull through. Purely out of reflex, my hand went to the horn and let it sound for a few seconds. Perhaps she didn’t realize she bad blazed through a stop sign because she flipped me off at the sound of my horn.
“Seriously!? Was that necessary of her?" said my sister.
“Evidently, paying attention isn’t that important to some people.”
“But really, wouldn’t you think you’d pay a little bit more caution to the rig with a load of horses that’s pulling into a cross section?"
“I don’t know.” I said. “I guess not.”
Trying to forget about what almost turned into an accident, I accelerated up the on-ramp. Just as I shifted into fourth gear and was about to move into the right lane of the interstate a car came flying past me in the lane I was just about to move into.
“What the hell, you douchebag!” I yelled. This time, I flipped him off.
“Okay, at this point, I will forgive the lady who blew the stop sign, but passing a trailer on an on-ramp is sheer stupidity. I get we drive slow, but have the slightest bit of patience. Screw that guy."
Now, I was in a rage. We drove in silence the next hour. Finally, I decided to let it go and turn on the radio. Singing always seemed to lighten the mood to some extent. Flipping through the stations, I settled with the old country genre. Hank Sr’s “Jambalaya” was muffling through the speakers. My sister wasn’t fond of my music selection as she typically preferred modern country and pop. Another driver was quickly entering the interstate so I moved over to the left lane, and once they sped on ahead I checked over my shoulder, and moved back over.
I didn’t know what town we were driving through, I just knew the amount of traffic building up was making me a bit apprehensive. I could see flashing lights from a couple cop cars about a mile ahead, and cars were starting to slow as they passed it. We reached the pile up of cars that were moving at a steady five miles per hour, and my sister and I looked over to the cop cars. They were surrounding a car that had become pretty distorted in a wreck.
The other vehicle was a semi. Interestingly enough, the semi only had a bit of a dent at the base of its grill where it obviously must have hit the rear end of the car.
“I hope everyone made it out of that one all right,” my sister said.
“Yeah, that car looks like it’s in pretty rough shape.”
We drove off and were on our way again. Light snowflakes had begun to fall, but the wind was keeping them blowing along the road without sticking. Moving through the mountains led to majestic scenery, snow covered hills blanketed with white puffy clouds. At this point we had an hour left till we were at the rodeo grounds. That’s what our intentions were anyway.
Coming down a hill leading into a snow-drifted valley, I saw a couple sets of taillights near the bottom. The left lane was just starting to be angled off by orange construction cones, leaving just the right lane available to drivers. I downshifted and listened to the engine roar as it helped to slow the rig down. We were getting fairly close to the taillights in front of us now. Out of the fog, a little blue car came flying past in the left lane and cut right in front of me. If he were any closer I think he would have hit my grill. Then, as any trailer driver would expect, the worst, he hit his brakes till he was right behind the next car. Being no more than thirty or forty feet behind the blue car, I hit my brakes and started shifting into lower gears. But it wasn’t enough to stop in time.
I smacked the back end of the car and sent him rolling into the guard rail. My sister was screaming. I was in shock and white-knuckled as I held the wheel as steady as my shaking hands would let me. The horse trailer jackknifed as I held my foot on the brake and we continued moving down the road, burning the rubber on the tires for the rest of the hill. I couldn’t even accelerate to try and straighten out our load, so I sat in fear as we slid our way down the hill, the trailer now skidding next to us. Our entire rig formed a big “V." Finally, we managed to come to a stop.
My sister was shaking my shoulders, yelling my name and asking if I was okay. I came out of my shock state and felt pain. At that same moment I looked forward to see that my windshield was gone. Then I remembered that there were four horses in the trailer. I reached down and opened my door and fell the second I stepped onto the ground. Looking down to where I felt the pain I saw that my stomach was oozing blood. Pulling my shirt up to my ribs, I found a chunk of glass the side of a plate wedged into my right side. Fear struck me as I yelled for my sister. She came running over to me and began bawling when she saw the glass.
“Please go check the horses! I’ll be fine, but it hurts to move.” And she went. Seconds later a few people had stopped to assist us in getting to the hospital and getting the horses out of the trailer. A lady had come to help me by talking and wiping up all of the blood. I could hear from the horse trailer someone saying that one horse was laying underneath two other horses that had fallen. Then the doors to the trailer were rattled open. One horse, I heard, walked out and onto the pavement. There was a commotion of hooves hitting the walls of the trailer and then another horse and one more walked out.
“We need to get this horse up and out!” somebody yelled.
“I don’t think he’s breathing.” Then I heard a cry from my sister. She came running over and told me that my good head horse, Bigdee was laying down, eyes closed, and had cuts all over him. He’s who had been underneath the other two during the accident. I still had a chunk of my windshield wedged in the side of my stomach, but I wanted to see him. If he really were as bad as what I had just heard, then it may be the last time I ever would see him.
“Will you help me up? I want to see him…” It hurt to get those words out through the physical pain in my side, and the emotional pain that had started taking effect.
“Are you sure you can get up? Here, help me. Grab her under that side.” She said to the lady who had been wiping the blood from my cut. The pain increased as they lifted me off the cold, snowy ground. The twenty foot walk to the back of the trailer felt like years. To my surprise, my horse, who had been laying dead flat poked his head up. He was clearly fear-stricken, and laying in pain. My sister didn’t lie when she said Bigdee had cuts everywhere. Blood stained the walls and nearly every inch of my horse’s body. One cut which looked the worst amongst all that I could see was one that ran from his right eye to his nostrils, straight down his face.
“Take me in there.” I said.
“I don’t know if she should go near him.” Said the lady helping hold me up. "She needs to get to the hospital."
“Please, take me in there now!”
I felt bad yelling, but I felt that I needed to be next to him. My sister and the lady set me down against the wall, and I forced my body to scoot closer. My favorite horse that I had ever trained and owned had never looked so scared, ever. Surely, he could make it out of this, I thought trying to be positive. But he did have marks that had cut pretty deep. Then the driver of the blue car suddenly came to mind. What an insolent piece of garbage to have the audacity to drive like that. Look at what you did, prick. My horse, who costs more than that shit car you sped past me in is probably going to be put down. All because you wanted to get around me before the construction started.
In slow steady whispers, I said to Bigdee, "I love you buddy. Thanks for being so good to me. I hope I get to see you after this is all over..."
“Hey, there’s an ambulance here.” My sister said. Then a group of EMT’s emerged with a stretcher and started giving me orders about getting onto their stretcher, because I did indeed have to go right away to the emergency room.
“I called a vet and he’s almost here too. I’ll let you know the diagnosis when he’s done and I get to the hospital.” My sister managed to say in a calmer manner than before. Then she grabbed my hand and informed me that it would be okay.
When I woke up hours later, I opened my eyes to see gray cabinets above a metal sink. Looking to my right, there was a window. The snow was really coming down now. Big fluffy snowflakes drifted to the ground. Then I remembered that I had just been in a car accident. My side didn’t hurt like it did before. Obviously I had been drugged up since I first arrived at the hospital, which explains why I wasn’t feeling the excruciating pain from earlier. I looked to my left and saw my sister standing in the hallway, talking to a nurse. She looked into my room and abruptly left the nurse once she realized I was awake. In a second she was sitting next to my bed. The nurse was standing next to her now too.
“How’s Bigdee? What did the vet diagnose?”
“Before we talk about him, you need to know about you. You have thirty-four stitches where that chunk of glass was lodged into your stomach. You also have slow internal bleeding, and you are going to have to stay here for a few days.” Really that wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I don’t think the nurse was very impressed with my response because I just gave him a “humph” and looked at my sister, clearly more interested in my horse’s condition.
“Can you give us a minute?” She said to the nurse.
“You need to understand that it’s a miracle that we just survived that. The guy who sped past us in that blue car is here too. He’s down a couple floors in another room. The only people who stopped were cars that came up behind us after the crash, and one car that was at the bottom of the hill when we wrecked…”
“So what did the vet say?” I couldn’t resist knowing what had happened to him after I left.
My sister shrugged and took a deep breath before she looked me dead in the eye.
“He started thrashing after you left which made him bleed worse than he already was. It was so awful to watch because we couldn’t do anything to help him. I tried giving him grain and treats and he wouldn’t stop. When the vet finally got there, he had calmed down enough for the vet to get a good look at him.”
Tears were now rolling down her cheeks, and as she started sobbing into her hands I knew that I had lost my beloved Bigdee. “Sis, he was such a good horse for you! And you put so much work into making him the athlete he was! Everybody was always so impressed with the horse you turned him into.”
“No! If it hadn’t been for that prick in the blue car we would be roping right now. I’d be roping on Bigdee.” I couldn’t say any more. Both my sister and I were laying and sitting in hysterics. I’d never been so angry, upset, and outraged. One thing I was sure of was that I would let that driver pay for the fact that he killed my horse, injured the three others, and was the reason we no longer had an operating pickup and trailer because it was mangled and shredded to pieces.
To build off of the story you just read, I’d like to make it clear that THIS DOES HAPPEN. Unfortunately, it’s all too simple and far easier said than done to tell drivers to take extra precautions when they pass semi drivers and rigs pulling trailers. Reader, if you happen to fall into the category of those who don’t pull a trailer, and don’t have a clue about pulling one, that’s fine, but think about the physics behind it. A semi or a trailer is not going to stop even remotely as quickly as a car. So if you are traveling in front of a large vehicle, take into consideration that if you slam on the brakes, you are increasing your chances of getting rear-ended. Simply because of the reaction time of the driver behind you and their vehicles ability to stop at the rate you stopped.
On another note, when it comes to passing large rigs, you could keep the stress level at a minimum by passing on straightaways or between turns on windy roads. Also, as this happened in the story, DO NOT speed past a rig before a construction zones or at all and then proceed by hitting your brakes once you’ve pulled in front of them. It’s common knowledge that semi and trailer drivers travel slower than the average car going down the road, but have patience. Quite frankly, no one is ever in that big of a hurry that makes it worth putting others at risk. Don't drive like the little blue car. Drive with respect. End of story....literally.