America’s roads need work! On my most recent transport, I covered 2,707.5 miles. Those miles took me the north-south route through TX, OK, KS, NE, SD and ND, then reverse on the return trip. For the most part, the trip was through some surprisingly beautiful country, NE, SD & ND, especially. However, no matter the beauty of the countryside, the roads were mostly very crumbly, narrow and rough.
Narrow roads seems to be the rule. It appears that TX is one of the only states to have wide shoulders. Many of the other states provide no pavement beyond the width of the lane. This was especially exciting at night on a two-way road I shared with a huge number of cattle trucks.
Matching road beds to bridges appears to be a big challenge. Patches placed where road meets bridge usually crumble after a short time, leaving tooth-rattling bumps. When I first encountered this stretch of mismatched bridges, there was a warning sign “Bump” with an arrow pointing down. These signs appeared for a couple more bridges, then stopped. Must have run out of “Bump” signs.
Rough roads contribute a great deal of stress to horses on board the trailer. Rattles, squeaks, bumps and jolts are all contributors, along with trailer floor/road vibration. Even air ride suspensions have a limit! Bad roads call for more rest stops. Imagine the quiet in the trailer without the road noise and vibration…now the horses can rest, eat and drink without these annoyances. The trip may take a bit longer, but the rest along the way makes it much more comfortable.
The best advice is plan ahead and don’t be in a hurry. A well-timed stop somewhere along the road gives everyone a chance to recharge. The importance of stopping for fifteen or twenty minutes to rest cannot be overemphasized. Get out, walk around, water horses, walk the dog, check horses’ attitudes and general condition. Then close your eyes, take a power nap and get ready for the next dose of rough roads. That’s why they’re called rest stops.
Not only are rough, dilapidated roads hard on horses, but equipment suffers, as well. Tires are challenged to withstand the pot holes and hazards; suspensions are pushed to the limit and rattles seem to crop up instantaneously. Routine equipment maintenance becomes more expensive, and costs per mile increase.
We’ll deal with the aging highway system where necessary; some states’ roads are worse than others and the economic climate does not provide impetus to restore them. Roads are somewhat less crowded, but this does not decrease the need for a new, smooth, well-maintained road and highway system. The horses we’re hauling will appreciate it.
Now, go hug your horse!