It took us three tries to get Milton from Canada to Alabama. There were just too many variables. These shippers could get him out of Canada. Those – much fewer – shippers could bring him into Alabama. He could be dropped at a farm for the switchover. Okay, what farm? Where? What state? What day? We couldn’t confirm this leg until we had that leg. We couldn’t confirm that leg until we had this leg.
Attempt One: The bus is full.
Milton almost came down a week earlier. KY to AL was booked. When I went to pay for the CAN to KY leg, I found that the earlier conversation with the shipper had been taken as an inquiry rather than as a reservation. No room. The second CAN to KY didn’t get back to us with a quote in time and the bus left without. We canceled KY to AL. They were not coming back to AL in the near future. Cue flailing and fretting.
Attempt Two: The bus gets lost.
My saddle seat instructor, Courtney Huguley of Stepping Stone Farm, was at the World’s Championship Horse Show in Louisville KY. Woo Hoo! If we could get him to Lexington, she would pick him up on the way home. If needed. Worst case, Milton would have to wait four days until the ASB bus left on Saturday. I would go up to Lexington early in the week, check on the horse, watch the show in Louisville, and generally fart around one of my favorite places in the world. Oh, twist my arm.
That gave us a fixed point. A shipper recommended Newtown Square Layover. It looked nice in the photos. More importantly, every shipper we spoke to knew of Newtown Square and Dr. Barbara Poole. This gave me confidence. We reserved a stall.
I called 15 different companies, from huge names to A Dude With A Trailer. I finally found a shipper-who-shall-remain-nameless who didn’t feel that entering Alabama equated to falling off the edge of the world. They would pick Milton up Wednesday morning and bring him down. [Teaser 3] Easier on Milton and way cheaper than me in Kentucky.
IHT delivered Milton to Newtown Square in deluxe fashion. Border papers turned out to be a non-issue. The seller, Linda Plank of Sprucehaven Farm in Ontario, jumped through the appropriate Canadian hoops and IHT handled the rest.
By Tuesday night, my horse (!) was in the country and safely tucked into a stall.
On Tuesday, the second shipper had sent a message warning they were running late. A lot of confusing noise about the states they needed to get to first and where they might or might not stop. I started to wonder.
Wednesday morning …
Wednesday midday …
Wednesday early evening. I heard from shippers. They were an hour away from Newtown Square. They would pick up Milton, ship to Knoxville, layover, drop off, pick up, pick up, drop off, maybe layover again, maybe not.
Three hours on day 1. Thirteen hours on day 2. Ping-ponging around the state of Tennessee on one of the hottest days of the year. Unspecified number of hours on day 3. Two layovers at places unknown.
Bzzzzt. Wrong answer.
Attempt Three: Success
Newtown Square graciously found room in the inn. The ASB bus was still available. We had a plan. Since the transport was as much a favor as much as a job, I drove up to Lexington on Thursday. I was around to help load and ship on Saturday. It was the sporting thing to do.
Plus, I had a chance to see Rachel Wamble on the green shavings with High In The Sky and It’s Alabama. Yeah Boy! The only part of Lexington I saw was the quarter mile between the hotel & the layover. Plus a late-night, past-my-bedtime trip to Joseph-Beth. I have my priorities.
Tomorrow: Buying Milton