Jun 27, 2014

Ram 3500 6.7 Cummins

We were planning to go camping this weekend.  No competing, just pleasure riding.  I miss my camping buddies!  We had food planned, ETAs figured out, even talked about which dogs would make the trip.  And in all of our excitement, we forgot to check the weather.  I woke up to rain, lightning and thunder, a flooding pasture again and two to four inches of rain in the area.  The camp closed the trails.  So much for best made plans.

Pulling with HiHo Silver
I picked up my (our) new truck yesterday.  The gooseneck hitch will not be in until next week so we were going to have to hook up to Ol' HiHo Silver this weekend for our camping trip.  That gives me shivers just thinking about all the "fun" I had with that old truck.   Look how far the bed of the truck drops with the trailer attached!

I really didn't "need" a new truck.  I just bought a new Ram in 2011.  After all the trouble we had with HiHo Silver, I had sworn off Chevys and diesel motors and bought a Ram 3/4 ton with a hemi.  I got a good deal buying what was on the lot.  I'm sure it had some sort of sexy color name but to us it was UPS brown.  At the time I was pulling a two horse trailer and while the mileage wasn't like driving a Honda, it was okay.  Best of all, I could go from Point A to Point B and back to A again without having to call a tow truck or unload Windy and ride her home!  It never caught fire or severed a brake line ever, unlike it's predecessor.

I'm at the age where you start saying things like "you can't take it with you" or "spend it while you have it" and last fall we decided to upgrade trailers.  We knew we might not have enough truck to pull the new Maverick which weighed in twice as heavy as our two horse Sundowner and even made the comment that "the worst that can happen is we have to buy another truck".   Fully loaded, we were at or above our GCWR and averaging about 7.7 mpg.  Once with a headwind, we dropped to 5.5 mpg.  It was then I decided we most likely needed another truck.

I called the dealer where I purchased the "UPS" Ram,  just feel them out and see what's out there.  I said I was looking for a 3/4 ton, 4x4, long box with a diesel engine and preferably no carpet.  When he asked "what color",  I said I wasn't really picky.  I had a list of those colors that I didn't want like yellow, but not so much what I liked.   When he called me back with a dark gray option - Granite Something or Other -  I looked up the color online and it was too dark.  I had a dark truck and I hate how dirty they look with just a coat of dust.  I decided if I was going to buy one, I was going to get picky.  I told him if I could have my pick of colors, it would be Prairie Pearl.  Second runner up would be Bright Silver Metallic.

The UPS Ram does not have a map light.  It has a dome light but it is not handy like a map light.  And if you are a passenger, you are at the mercy of the driver to turn it on and off for you.  As silly as this sounds, my new truck must have a map light.  My dealer was excited to call when he found the "perfect" Prairie Pearl truck.  But we stopped short of shipping it when I found there was no map light.  I'm a tough customer.

Meanwhile, John and I stopped at a Dodge dealership before a wedding and we didn't find Prairie Pearl but found almost every truck in that row had a map light.  Then we realized we were in the one ton row, not the 2500s.  When we went back to the maplightless 2500s, we didn't see a huge difference in price to their big brother and they seemed to be quite a bit more truck!

So when my dealer called me on Monday saying he found a 2500 in Prairie Pearl WITH a map light, I told him to shift gears.  We now wanted that in a 3500, not 2500.   He was a true professional and didn't cuss at me but said he would see what he could find.  Moments later, he came back with a Bright Silver Metallic one ton with a map light; my second choice.

I called John and asked what he thought.  Should we get the one ton Silver or the 3/4 ton Prairie Pearl?  He said we should get a "dually" and that was not an option.  He said we should get the biggest truck we could afford.  I polled my Facebook friends on the color and the majority liked the silver.  Yes, it did match my trailer, but it wasn't Prairie Pearl.  A friend at work reminded me that they can get "any color you want" - that I am the customer.  So when the dealer called me back to see what we had decided, I told him Prairie Pearl but in a 3500.  He must continue his search.

My new truck is a 2014 Ram 3500 with the 6.7 Cummins diesel engine in Prairie Pearl.  I love both the color and the name of the color.  A Facebook friend said it would be a good name for a horse and I agree.

With the "pimp" lights on

While it has the coveted map lights, I wasn't keen on were the clearance lights above the windshield.  I told the dealer it kind of pimped it out a little more than I wanted and asked him if they could be removed?  He never really answered me if they could or couldn't but took the opportunity to try to convince me that they really are a nice option.  I decided to let it go.  I guess when I am in the truck, I don't have to see them when they are on.

And speaking of lights, here are those pesky map lights or console lights that made my dealer have to work for his commission.  Now why wouldn't they put these in all trucks?

And this is a fun little feature - there is a camera in the back of my truck and when I put it in reverse, the display on the radio shows what is behind me and those green/yellow/red lines change as I steer.  It also gives me the beep, beep, beep sound when I get close to hitting something in our cluttered up shed.

It's got a nice armrest and console in the middle which raises up to a bench seat.  The truck will easily fit six passengers.  Or in our case, two adults and three dogs.

I was happy the truck he found did not have carpet.  I was turned on to this "lack of" feature with the UPS truck.  It is simply a rubber floor which I can sweep out and scrub.  It shines up great with Amour All and I never have to worry about stained or smelly, damp carpet.  This truck is used for hauling horses and dogs.  My boots are never clean and I never have to worry about it.  I do have some floor mats to dress it up a bit that can be easily shaken off or hosed down.  (Admit it, I got you all thinking about that, didn't I?)  In the back of the cab, there are floor boxes that can be used for coolers or just storing items out of sight.

It had been raining when I took this picture; the truck bed is not stained.  

The truck has the power supply to the trailer inside the box of the truck.  Per my request, it has a spray in bed liner.  The new Rams are equipped with a gooseneck and fifth wheel "prep".  The actual gooseneck ball set-up will be installed next week.

Prairie Pearl is a bit of a chameleon.  In some light it appears gold, in others it looks much darker.  And when driving it, it looks like the hood is black!   I haven't had the opportunity to pull the trailer yet until the ball is installed but did position the trailer under the truck for pictures.

When the hitch gets installed, it will also be equipped with mud flaps.  I am also ordering a running board of some sort because it is very tall to climb into.  The ones at the dealership were about three times the price of what I can get online.

So far, I like everything about it.  From the bigger tires to the hum of a diesel motor.   Case took his girlfriend out to see it tonight, so it must have passed the teenager test, too.  I am so anxious to get moving down the highway with the horses and trailer behind us.

While researching new trucks, I creeped on lots of forums trying to find what folks were getting for MPG with this particular model or the 2013 model, same truck.  No one is talking.  So I will review its performance in the coming months, including MPG.  The good, the bad and the ugly.


Jun 22, 2014

Here, There and Everywhere

Photo by David Nore

I knew the last couple of months would be busy.  I usually keep my events calendar out of John's view because he gets palpitations just thinking about doing "all that running around".  But it was busy enough that I had to print it off for him.  I'm not sure he even looked at it but rather let me pull him around by the nose and hear him complain.  Overall, he didn't gripe too much.  But between you and me, I am the one who is tired!  I slept until after 8:00 AM yesterday morning.  Talk about burning daylight!

Since I last posted, there have been three more competitive trail rides (CTR), two clinics, a trip home for my 35th class reunion and a quick trip to Atlanta for work.  Literally planes, trains and automobiles.   But the last CTR is over until August or September, so I am coming up for air.  Unfortunately, that air right now is hot and humid!

Our second CTR of the year was at Hillsdale Lake near Hillsdale, Kansas - southwest of Kansas City.  It was our first time at this lake and I was really impressed with the facility.  We had full hookups with water, a hitching post for one of the horses and we high-tied the other.  The spots were shady and close to the trail.

We have really lucked out for these rides and had great weather; even jacket weather at ride out in the mornings.  I was disappointed that there were only four in our class for this ride; having a full class makes you "earn" a placing.  Windy checked in good and overall, we had an okay ride.  She was a little cagey when we would be asked to do obstacles but she didn't refuse like the first ride, so I'll take that as an improvement.  She didn't "earn" a placing since she came in 4th or last.  I placed 2nd which was a surprise.  John pulled a 1st place in horsemanship and 3rd in horse.  Fancy did well on the trail but checked out Grade 1 lame which cost him some points.

We had a couple weeks off from competition for those aforementioned non-horse related trips.  We also attended a couple clinics that were offered to competitive riders.  The most recent was put on by Cherie Jeffcoat, a past President's Cup winner and current Horsemanship judge.  She started us on the ground and then worked into the saddle, critiquing our riding style (if you could call what I do in the saddle riding!) and we simulated obstacles.  Overall, it was probably the best clinic I have ever attended.  I don't know if it was coincidence or a result of the clinic that my next couple rides were much better.

Photo by David Nore

Photo by David Nore

Our local distance riding club, NECTRA,  held the next ride here at our own Branched Oak Lake.  I signed up to ride in the competition but helped the club with identifying trail to get the necessary miles for the ride.  I brought both Fancy and Windy to the lake with me earlier that week so I wouldn't ride down one or the other while clearing and marking trail.  Unfortunately, the night before the ride, some of the kids at other camps found our ribbons on the trail and decided to take them.  We found ourselves out on the ATV late the night before the ride,  re-ribboning the trail.  Since I was familiar with the area and trails, John and I rode point going out the next morning so we could re-ribbon anything we missed for the riders behind us.

We rode with a new rider, Helen, and had such a good time.  The horses kept together at an easy trot, marking trail on the fly as needed.  Windy was a bit pushy at check in - which is odd for her - but settled nicely for the obstacles.  I was thrilled when we both pulled 2nd Place for this ride in a full class.

I really thought that was the last CTR until later this summer or early fall but my friend, Mary, has a way of arm twisting.  There was a ride scheduled in southern Missouri - a mere five hundred mile drive - that she thought we should go to.  We, being Mary, our friend Sharron, and me.  John said he didn't mind sitting out this one so I quickly entered, got my traveling papers, hooked up my trailer to Mary's truck and away we went.

We left on Thursday night and drove the first half, overnighting at a 4H facility in Harrisonville, Missouri.  It made for an easy drive the next morning.  We settled in to Flying R Ranch near West Plaines, Missouri shortly after noon on Friday.  What a great horse facility!  Again, full hook-ups under big shade trees and this time, covered and lighted stalls for the horses just out our back door.

Our check in wasn't good!  Perhaps I have been lackadaisical in working with her on this because we always have good check ins.  But she wouldn't stand for the judge and when we did our trot out, she cut in front of me and about knocked me to the ground.  Horses.  They have a way of humbling us, don't they?

The ride would take us into Mark Twain Forest, beautiful wooded trails with many clear river crossings.  At the ride meeting the night before, the map was a little confusing but having a few of these CTRs under our belt now,  we figured it would all come together out there on the trail.  We overestimated our capabilities a bit.

Really, we didn't know we were lost.  We were to follow blue and pink ribbons and we were.  And we might still be out there following those ribbons if we didn't run into those riding Open who had been out on the trail longer.  They had been down that trail and it wasn't the right one.  And to their calculations, their wrong turn (and ours) had put them way behind schedule.  Now the Open riders are the best of the best and if they were wrong, we most certainly we were wrong.  We tucked in behind their Arabs and Fox Trotters and wondered aimlessly with them until they found where the right trail picked up.  (Big sigh.)

About a dozen of us rode into the first obstacle to find safety riders on radios relieved to find half their riders that they had deemed lost.  We let the Open riders go ahead of us as they had more time to make up than we did.  When Windy and I approached the judges, I found her quiet and mannerly.

We did okay at most of the obstacles.  Not outstanding but not bad.  Just okay is quite an improvement from the first ride this year, so I will take it.  I was also thrilled that she had no back soreness or soundness issues.  Being a flat lander, the hills of Missouri can be challenging for our horses.  And this vet was very thorough.  

We received the same maps for the next day with new instructions.  And we almost made that wrong turn again but corrected ourselves before we got too far.  Although rain was a possibility, we didn't plan on it actually raining so was quite surprised when it started to downpour.  Sharron found a poncho for me and before long it let up.

At checkout, Windy once again was a pistol.  WTH?  Although we lost no points for soundness and condition, her behavior at check in and check out lost her enough points to take her out of 1st place - which she would have easily won - and most likely sweepstakes - put her in 3rd.  I, however, garnered my first win!  1st place in Horsemanship!

Now that we have a little time off, I have been searching for a new truck.  While I love my Ram, the hemi is just not cutting it with my new trailer.  It pulls it like it isn't there but the gas mileage is killing me.  If we can get a good enough deal, we are planning to trade it in on a diesel.

Let's all be reminded that buying a horse is the cheapest part of horse ownership.  But I am really digging the rewards of coming together as a team with that said horse.

I"ll try not to be away from here as long next time.