THE HORSE TRAILER WITH A BROKEN HEART… (a loading story; we’ve all been there)

One of my favorite authors sent this story to me.  I think you will enjoy it if you have ever tried to load a horse.   (Psst… if you’d like to order any of Michael’s wonderfully insightful and humorous books/Audio CDs – my favorites – click here!)


Michael Johnson


The Horse Trailer With The Broken Heart

     Man, that sounds like the title of a hit country song, doesn’t it? The Horse Trailer With the Broken Heart. At one time I was pretty much a world class expert at trailer loading a horse. At least in my own mind I was. Then one of my closest friends taught me I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought about that subject.

     The Blue Man has been with me for years. I loved the blue gray Otoe colt the moment I watched his momma lay him on the earth. We first made eye-contact when he was only minutes old. I loved him and I will always believe he feels the same way about me. He was never afraid of his Poppa and always sought my attention with constant playing and pranks. My roping glove was never safe in the back pocket of my jeans. Creeping like a kitten, he would sneak up behind me and snatch the glove away and then run like crazy across the pasture with that glove clenched in his teeth in a death grip. I swear you could hear him laughing.

     He was four months old the first time I asked him to get in the trailer. I stood just inside the doorway with the feed bucket in hand. With Baby Blue – looking sharp in his baby halter – standing just outside I said, “If you will just put one foot on this trailer floor, I will give you a bite of this feed.”

     He said, “Are you kidding, Pop? I want the whole bucket!” And he almost knocked me down. I couldn’t get him out of the trailer until he devoured every bite. And Blue always did that – jumped in the trailer like a trained house cat. He loved to go down the road and he loved to rope…for twelve years. Can you imagine how I felt on one dark day when Blue said, “I’m don’t want to go in the twailer anymore, Pop…and I’m not going in.”


“Not going in, Pop – and you can’t make me. I won’t do it.” And he would not.

     You ever been in a valley so low?

     This will seem silly to those outside the horse world (mentally healthy people drive me crazy) but I felt betrayed. I couldn’t breathe. The Blue Man wasn’t going with me? Say it ain’t so! And day after day passed, and Blue wouldn’t go in the trailer. Several of my roping buddies tried to console me. They said, “Well, it’s obvious, Miguel. Blue is just sick and tired of being ridden by a mediocre roper.” Jeez.

     I was severely injured in a roping accident about this time. Actually, Shine was tied to a gate before the roping started when something scared him. He pulled back and the gate fell on me and cracked my pelvis. (I don’t tell anybody I really got hurt before the roping ever started.) That injury prevented my working with Blue regarding the trailer problem and day after day, I sat there staring out at him wondering what on earth had happened to the person inside him that I loved so.

     The injury finally healed and the new year came. Some time had passed since Blue’s strange behavior had surfaced, and I hoped against hope that somehow his not loading in the trailer was all a bad dream or had disappeared as mysteriously as it began. I haltered the Blue Man and we made our way to the trailer. Along the way I said some sort of prayer I can’t remember. I led Blue to the rear entry door. He looked inside, then turned to me and said, “I’m still not going in, Pop. No way, Jose.” The saddest of times.

     So I did what I always do when visibility in life is low…I started asking people I love and trust what they thought about all this. I might not do everything they say, but I listen and select what might best help. The responses were varied. All from old tough cowboys who are not mean, but well…you know, tough…and pretty ugly, physically speaking.

     Bronc: “Knowing you,” he said, “you are not going to like this. Try your best to get him in there and don’t get mad, but you get Blue to go in that trailer. No more force than necessary – but you need to be able to load your horse.”

     Kenneth: “You may not want to hear this, but this can’t continue. Offer him the trailer and if he doesn’t choose to go in, make him work. Lope him in circles, back him up, make him work – always offering “rest” if he chooses to go in.”

Jerry V.: (Roughest and toughest of the bunch) “No, I wouldn’t do that. Don’t get rough with Blue.”

(That surprised me. The Lord made this guy out of saddle leather and steel.)

Michael: “You wouldn’t? Why not?”

Jerry V: “I don’t know. My grandfather raised me. When I misbehaved, if he spanked me, I didn’t act a bit better – just made me mad and made me act out more. But if he talked to me and explained why he was worried and how he loved me and wanted me to be safe…that would change my behavior for the better.”

Greg Dial: “No, don’t get on Blue for this,” he said. “Don’t fuss at him.”

Michael: “But what do I do?” I asked.

Greg Dial: He thought for a time and then said, “Use all that love you have for him.”

Sherry: (My wife – polar opposite of ugly, and smells good)

     “I know you are going to be surprised,” she said. “But I agree with Bronc and Kenneth.” Took me a minute to get off the floor.

     “What? I cannot believe what I just heard,”

     “Well, just think about it a minute,” she began. “What if we have a fire or a flood here on this property? What if Blue suffers some severe cut – God forbid – but what if he slashes his chest open on a piece of wire. We can’t escape the fire or flood or we can’t take Blue to the vet and save his life because we didn’t want to upset him by requiring him to load in the trailer? You know how much I love our Wynn (5 year old granddaughter) but if Wynn is doing something that’s not safe, I am going to do all I can to arrange things so Wynn is safe…even if she doesn’t like it. We all have to do things in life we don’t want to do. Blue doesn’t want to get in the trailer, but I love him and want him to be with us as long as possible.”

     Hmmmmm. I don’t know what you think, but I think everyone has a good point here. Bronc and Kenneth are never mean to horses, and they could get Blue in the trailer without much fuss. Jerry and Greg are both excellent horsemen and would solve the “Blue problem” rather quickly. Sherry is right, too. We can’t allow horses – or grandkids – to put themselves in harm’s way. So what to do about Blue? I thought some more. Sadness was oppressive. Filled my heart. Visibility in life was still low. The only thing I knew for certain was I just might have come up with yet another title for a hit country song…

“What are we gonna’ do about Blue?”


     What will Michael do? Is this it? Is this the end? Will the legendary duo of Miguel and the Blue Man drift into the mist of the past? Are their roping days over? No more wine and roses – and cold beer – at ropings? Is this the last of the grilled chicken tacos cooked under the trees outside the arena at night after the show? Will Blue retire? Will one of the song titles top the country charts? And will the horse trailer die of a broken heart?

     Tune in next week for the dramatic conclusion to learn if the Blue Man will ever load in the trailer again.

     Oh, and bring some Kleenex. This may get pretty emotional.

Michael & Blue Poster1

Blue and Michael Johnson.  Click image to go to Michael’s website to find his incredible books and audio CDs!

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