Last Day With Walter Zettl

Jul 6, 2010 - 8:59 AM

Today marks the end of a fantastic adventure. I was SO lucky to have the opportunity to ride with Walter Zettl! I was slated to ride first once again, but because we didn’t have lessons on Tuesday, Lisa G. would have missed out on a ride, and since she was only riding two times with Walter, I decided to let her have my spot with him.

Ike was getting tired and a bit homesick (or was it both of us?) so I planned on heading back to Michigan following Lisa’s ride at 9:30 a.m. 

After saying my goodbyes I packed up the trailer, loaded Ike, and headed off to the 406. I programmed my Garmin to take me home, hoping this trip would be less eventful than the one last Thursday. The weather was fabulous (in the low 70s) and traffic was light, so I buzzed right along to the QEW, then the 401 which turned into the 402, which took me to Sarnia, the crossing point (and hellatious construction zone—HAHA) into the United States.

I thought I did well making it to this point in three hours. As I was funneled from three lanes of traffic to two, I was getting a sinking feeling in my stomach. The right lane had been designated for trucks, and it was backed up as far as I could see. Creeping along I made it to the tollbooth and paid the $9 to cross back into the U.S. via the Blue Water Bridge. I wonder why it cost me $13 to cross into Canada last week? Hmmm…..

I pulled onto the entrance of the bridge, and low and behold, the traffic was crawling. The truck traffic was now in the left lane and car/RV traffic in the right lane. As I inched along I was thankful for Sirius satellite radio in the truck to keep me from dying of boredom. I ended up at the very top of the bridge and was literally between both countries. My truck was on one side of the invisible line, my trailer was on the other. Lake Huron was beautiful to gaze at.

At last I made it off the bridge and onto solid ground. Once I pulled into a lane to pass through yet another booth, I counted 12 cars in front of me. The average time spent with the little man at the booth was about five minutes. Oh gosh, that means I’ll be sitting in traffic for another hour—BLAH! Luckily some of the cars didn’t take that long, while others were directed to the left and had to undergo a search.

Finally, it was my turn to pull up to the inspection point. I greeted the young man with a smile and a good afternoon, hoping my charm would enable me to avoid 20 questions. Nope, wasn’t going to happen on his watch.

I handed him my passport, and then the questions started.

“Where are you coming from?” “Where do you live?” “Do you know your license plate number?” (HAHAHA—I had my registration handy and passed it to him like a pro!) “Why were you in Canada?” “How long were you in Canada?”

And then the fun started. Inspector: “Who does the truck belong to?” Me: “My husband.” Inspector: “Where is your husband?” Me: “At work.” Inspector: “How did he get there?” Me: “In my car.”

Oh my gosh, I was going to crack up but had to keep a straight face. Then he asked me about the horse in the trailer. Why was the horse in Canada? Is it only one horse? Was he a racehorse? Did he win any money? OK, I understand the security of the United States is in the hands of the border patrol agents but come on! 

I handed the paperwork over for Ike, and he grilled me about that also, wanting to know where all the copies were. Hello, they are in your hand mister! He finally found the one with the official raised seal on it and proceeded to lecture me about how I should have pulled over at the bridge before entering Canada and had the papers stamped with the date of entry into the country so that when I returned he would know how long I was there. OK, if the papers are only good for 30 days then why would it matter what date I took the horse to Canada as long as I brought him back within the specified time period? Again I just smiled and said I would do what he suggested if there was a next time.

I finally made it through the border and was now in the good ole US of A! The trip to my farm took another hour, and I have never been so happy to pull into the driveway as I was today! Ike backed off the trailer very slowly, looked around and breathed a sigh of relief. I turned him out with his two pasture buddies, and he didn’t know what to do—roll or eat some grass.

It was a wonderful trip; I met some great new friends, had a fantastic learning experience with Walter Zettl, was privileged to ride some awesome horses and was able to sight see in the area.  Thank you to everyone that made this possible for me and I have enjoyed sharing my experience with the Chronicle of the Horse!


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