California Riding Magazine • June, 2011

Horsey Humor:
My Stupid Truck

by Bob Goddard

I've noticed that people who are silly enough to trailer their horses long distances to horse shows like to travel in herds. Of course they don't refer to themselves as a "herd." They prefer "convoy." But to me, "convoy" suggests images of angry truckers busting through state police barricades or perhaps military activity in the North Atlantic, circa 1942. So I'll stick with "herd."

The herding behavior is due to the inevitable pessimism of people who routinely attempt to pull a $10,000 horse trailer with a $500 truck. You just know something will go wrong. Since mechanical difficulties are as much a part of the horse experience as manure and flies, it's only natural to want the security of a herd.

I've certainly had my share of truck/trailer problems. Flat tires, electrical failures, brake problems and plain stubborn laziness just to name a few. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Except for this thing my stupid truck went through one summer. I don't know how or why it started, but every so often my truck would honk its horn. By itself. Without me touching it.

The first time it happened, my teenage daughter Hiliary was with me. We were driving down the road and all of sudden: "HONK." Then it did it again. And again. And again. And again. It wasn't one of those unrelenting-lay-on-the-horn kinds of honking that after a few minutes incites the "I Gotta Kill Something" section of listener's brain. It was just a little tap kind of honk. Like when you say "hi."

So there's my truck, goin' down the road saying "hi ...hi ... hi ... hi ... hi ..." to no one in particular. For no reason. This made EVERYBODY look. And this deeply embarrassed my teenage daughter. Teenage daughters would rather DIE than have somebody look at them when their Dad is acting stupid even though its not his fault.

After a few days of this, I disconnected a few wires in the steering column. It didn't work. I thought about going under the hood and yanking on some cables because that's the way they fix renegade horns on T.V. But I was afraid that with my lack of mechanical ability, I'd make the front tires fall off or something. So I spent the better part of summer letting the truck honk whenever it wanted to.

The honking really never posed a major problem. Except for the ugly incident with The Angry Lady who threatened to kill me. That was a new experience for me since normally the females who threaten to kill me are related to me. I had never seen this one before.

Anyway, it took place at my daughter Jamie's dressage show at the fairgrounds in Lake Odessa. Lake Odessa is a beautiful little town off I-96 between Grand Rapids and Lansing and I'm not allowed to go back there.

This is why. First of all, you have to understand that dressage shows are very low-keyed affairs. Everybody is very nice and supportive and no one is real showy about winning. People still display their ribbons and whatnot, but I get the impression it would be bad form to make to big a fuss about coming in first.

But stupid trucks don't care about bad form. Jamie did well at the Lake Odessa show and the whole family was very proud of her. Especially the stupid truck. As we started to leave, the stupid truck went off like a mad duck: honk-honk-honk-honk-honk, all the way through the parking lot, past a couple dozen trailers. And EVERYBODY in the place looked up. The hicks from Muskegon where leaving.

Before we could leave, The Angry Lady approached the truck. She "asked" me to "please" cut that "stuff" out. These are not precise quotes. Apparently, she was attempting to work with a VERY NERVOUS STALLION and I wasn't helping matters. She had a whip in her hand and I wasn't entirely certain it was meant solely for the horse. The look on her face said something like "The only reason you're alive right now is because it's against the law to kill you."

We got out of there fast.

All the way home down I-96 my stupid truck honked. Every time somebody passed us it gave a little beep. Around 200 times. After several futile attempts of gesturing that I was having horn troubles, I finally gave up and just started waving like I knew the people.
That part was kind of fun.