Triple Trouble: The Breakdown

“I started this sport because I like to ride my horse and shoot guns, I continue participating because I look forward to seeing these great people almost every weekend.”

After my last article about losing my interest in riding and crying — A LOT — I bet you looked at the title of this article and thought, “Marce finally hit her breaking point and lost her $h!t.” While that is believable and still very much a possibility, this article is about a recent event where my truck decided to stop working on a busy interstate.

One of my biggest fears as a female who travels alone is breaking down in an unfamiliar area far from home. It’s not because of the weirdos that could stop — I usually have more guns packed in the truck than pairs of underwear, so a confrontation is the least of my worries.

What makes this one of my biggest fears is a few situations. Will I be able to safely stop the truck and trailer? Will there be enough room to pull off safely with the rig? Will people yield to a loaded horse trailer? Who will pick up my horse if my truck and trailer need to be towed? How will I get myself home?

Luckily, Black Betty the Heavy Chevy has always gotten me to and from my destinations safely — until this last trip.


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It was a crummy day out as I drove four hours across the state to shoot with the East Coast Outlaws. Approximately 25 minutes from our destination, while going about 70 miles per hour, Black Betty decided to just shut down without warning.

I was in the far left lane when the truck turned off. For whatever reason, I failed to realize that when the truck shuts down there is no power steering and the brakes are not as effective.

So there I am, trying to merge all the way over to the right side of the road, going down a slight downgrade, with no power steering and breaks that can’t even stop the truck let alone the trailer — IN THE MIDDLE OF A THUNDERSTORM. I just about pooped myself. This maybe 10 seconds felt like 15 minutes.

After utilizing the brake stop for the trailer to stop the truck and trailer safely, Payco and I found ourselves sitting on the side of a bridge on the interstate, broke down. Now what?

Payco and me in Tunica, MS. Photo by Mr. Quigley Photography.

Being so close to our destination was a HUGE blessing.

I recalled that one of my good friends, Chris Himes, arrived a few days early to aid in set up for the shoot. I gave him a jingle, asked if his trailer was dropped from his truck and if he could come and get my trailer and take it the rest of the way to the shoot. Chris was there lickety-split — I mean he was seriously lightning fast (HUGE THANK YOU).

By the time Chris got there it had finished thunder storming and he quickly tried to find a resolution to the issue. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a quick fix and had to be towed.

Chris was able to get my truck started long enough to limp it to an exit where it was safer to disconnect the trailer and reconnect it to his. This was the part that made me most anxious. With Payco in the trailer I was extremely worried about him staying calm in there for the brief time the trailer was disconnected.

It couldn’t have gone any smoother. Speedily my truck was disconnected, Chris’s truck was hooked up and we were on our way to the horse center.

Chris Himes on his shooting horse, Bowie. Photo by Penley Horsemanship.

Once at the shoot I was approached by an overwhelming number of people who were ready to help in any way they could. My biggest worries were how Payco and I were going to get home on Sunday and what I was going to do with my trailer.

After talking with the shop they stated they would try their hardest to have my truck done by Saturday at the close of their day. Saturday they called me stating that the truck fired right up, they did diagnostics and found nothing wrong with the truck. The shop instructed me to pick the truck up, drive it home, DO NOT shut it off one the way, and take it to a shop near home to do further diagnostics.

Saturday evening, after I had finished competing, another great friend, Eric Newcomer, took me to pick my truck up (ANOTHER HUGE THANK YOU).

Not even five minutes into the drive the truck shut down again while on the interstate. I hopped back into Eric’s truck, paid for a second tow and sent the truck back to the shop it had just came from.

The Newcomer Family. Photo courtesy of Cindy Newcomer.

I was now stressed about how I was going to get myself, Hope and Payco home. After making several different plans about how Payco and I were going to eventually get home, Lynn O’Connell offered to drive me and Payco all the way home (YET ANOTHER HUGE THANK YOU).

Lynn drove WAYYYYY out of her way to take us home. She lives in Connecticut while I live in Pennsylvania and was laying over in Ohio. I honestly cannot thank her enough for her act of kindness. Hope and her dog got along well in the back seat and Lynn made me feel so comfortable the entire way home. Lynn took SO MUCH stress off of me by getting my little crew home safely.

Lynn O’Connell and her good horse Vana. Photo courtesy of Lynn O’Connell.

But what about my trailer? Eric Newcomer to the rescue again! Monday morning Eric took his truck back to the show grounds, picked my trailer up and took it to his house where it sits parked.

Fast forward two weeks. I finally get the call that my truck is done (YAY)! Eric and his wife, Cindy, went the extra mile for me, picked my truck up, took it to their house to hook the trailer up and stated they would meet me and my sister half way so we wouldn’t have to make the entire trip. HOW AWESOME ARE THEY? SERIOUSLY!

I need to take a Prilosec before writing this next part as it still gives me heartburn.

Approximately 30 -40 minutes into their drive I get a call from Eric that the truck did the exact same thing it’s been doing — it shut down and is now broke down again. Eric was able to get it to a parking lot where they unhooked the trailer and called AAA to tow the truck to a reputable shop they use.

Now $1300.00 in the hole with a truck that is still not fixed, I’m overly upset, but thanks to the Newcomers my truck is now a great shop and my trailer is back at their house until further notice.

Cindy Newcomer in action. Photo by Tim Frank.

The truck saga is to be continued.

Before I run to consume a handful of Tums because of this situation I’d like to just note how I’ve met some of the most amazing and genuinely good hearted people through mounted shooting. The people in this sport would give you the shirt of their backs if it was the last shirt they had. They provide others with anything they may need and expect nothing in return. I started this sport because I like to ride my horse and shoot guns, I continue participating because I look forward to seeing these great people almost every weekend.

Again I would like to extend my gratitude and thanks to Eric and Cindy Newcomer, Lynn O’Connell, Chris Himes and all the individuals who offered a lending hand when I broke down a couple weekends ago. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have to support of great people like you guys and gals!