The most important
goal of any journey should be to arrive safely at your destination. Of
course, anytime you travel, you're putting yourself at risk. However,
you want to minimize the risk as much as possible.
place to start to ensure travel safety is with your towing vehicle and
the trailer. It is of the utmost importance that both your vehicle and
trailer are in good condition! And, be sure that your towing vehicle
is of the proper rating for the trailer you'll be towing! If you try
towing a trailer that is too large and too heavy for your tow vehicle,
you could be asking for major trouble!
Now, your rig doesn't have to be new to be in good condition. As long
as it has been well-maintained and passes certain criteria, it should
get the job done without any problems.
Things to do to ensure a safe trailering experience:
- If you're pulling a tag-along horse trailer, your tow vehicle MUST
have a Class III or Class IV hitch that is welded or bolted to the
frame of the tow vehicle. The hitch must have a rating that matches
or exceeds the weight of your trailer.
- Your trailer needs to be level, regardless of whether it's a tag-along
or a gooseneck.
- Make sure the trailer lights and brakes work properly.
- The break-away brake MUST be attached with a fully-charged battery.
Check to make sure it works properly before taking the rig out on
- All tag-along trailers require safety chains or cables hooked to
the tow vehicle. In some states, safety chains or cables are required
with gooseneck trailers, as well. So, check to see what the regulations
are in your state. Prior to road trips, check the safety chains, hitch,
- If you're new to towing a trailer, or if it has been awhile, practice
basic driving and towing skills before you hit the road. Make sure
that you know how to back the trailer properly. Practice making turns
with the trailer in tow. Work on those sudden stops, so you'll be
prepared in case you have to make one during your trip. Also, practice
parking the rig.
- If you are hauling one horse in a two-horse trailer, put the horse
on the driver's side of the trailer. If you are hauling two horses,
put the heaviest horse on the driver's side. This will help keep the
- If a trailer is not specifically designed to carry a horse backwards,
do NOT load the horse backwards! Doing so will change the tongue weight
and make driving very dangerous!
- When hauling horses in a slant load trailer, place the heaviest
part of the load towards the front of the trailer for smoother traveling.
However, make sure that the tongue is not over-taxed and that you
have not exceeded the rating for the rear axle of the tow vehicle.
- Always check out the tow vehicle before taking a trip with your
horses. Make sure all engine fluid levels are good and replenish those
that need to be replenished. Also, top off the wiper fluid, if it's
- Make sure that the ball on the tow vehicle is the correct size for
the trailer that you will be towing.
- Adjust all rearview mirrors properly and know how to use them.
- Check the condition and pressure of all tires, both on the tow vehicle
and on the trailer. Improper pressure and poor condition of tires
can increase the likelihood of trailering problems, tire failure,
or even an accident.
- Check to make sure all lug nuts are in place and secure on all wheels.
Wheel nuts and bolts should be torqued before first road use and each
time a wheel is removed. With a new trailer, you should check and
re-torque after the first 10, 25, and 50 miles. Afterwards, check
and re-torque periodically.
- Prior to loading your horses, check the trailer to make sure there
are no wasp nests or other potential hazards inside.
- Once the horses are loaded into the trailer, be sure that the horses
are comfortably tied to prevent them from getting caught under bars
or dividers and to keep them from moving around too much. If a horse
got stuck under a bar or divider, it could potentially end up with
a broken neck or back. And, if the horses move around too much, the
trailer load could become unbalanced and cause the driver to lose
control of the rig. Also, make sure all doors are closed and properly
latched, before you head out.
- Before getting out on a highway, drive down your driveway or a little
ways down an access road. Then, stop and get out and check everything
over again. In case you might have missed something the first time
around, it might become apparent by this time.
Now that you're out on the road...
You've gone through all the pre-checks, the horses are loaded, and
you're ready to get out on the highway. But, there are still things
to consider while driving to your destination. After all, you want to
arrive there safely with your precious cargo!
One thing that could come in handy, in case of an emergency, is a cell
phone. If you don't have a cell phone, you should either invest in one,
or install a CB radio in your tow vehicle. You never know when a situation
might arise in which you need to contact help quickly.
As you drive down the highway, you cannot be too cautious! Remember
that a loaded trailer is heavy and puts extra strain on the tow vehicle.
Your stopping distance will be longer. Your acceleration will be slower.
Watch your speed! If there is a posted speed limit for trailers, adhere
to it. If not, keep your speed down to at least 5 mph below the posted
limit, and NEVER follow too closely behind another vehicle!
Always be aware of the load that you are hauling. Use your rearview
mirrors frequently. Use your turn signal to let other drivers know of
your intention to turn or change lanes. Change lanes gradually, and
keep forward motion and tension on the hitch to prevent loss of control
due to trailer sway. Should the trailer begin to sway, do not use the
tow vehicle's brakes. Instead, apply the hand brake on the controller
to the trailer in brief spurts. The tow vehicle will continue moving
forward, while the trailer is slowed down enough to straighten out the
rig. Once the tow vehicle and trailer are again under control, you may
use the tow vehicle's brakes to slow down.
In case your trailer skids and goes into a jackknife, you should apply
the brakes to your tow vehicle. In fact, hit the brakes hard! Look into
your rearview mirror to see if the trailer is swinging out of your lane.
If it is, let up on the brakes to regain traction. Avoid using the hand
brake, because it is the trailer's brakes that have locked up and caused
the skid. Once the wheels regain traction, the trailer will begin to
straighten out and follow the tow vehicle.
When traveling up or down steep hills, use a lower gear. If the trailer
seems to pick up speed going downhill, use the hand brake to slow the
trailer. When ascending a long, steep hill, downshift and keep your
speed down to 45 mph to prevent too much strain and overheating of the
Remember your equine passengers, as you travel down the road. Slow
down in bumpy areas. Take turns slowly. Give the trailer a chance to
complete the turn and straighten out, and allow time for the horses
to regain their balance before resuming your normal speed.
Avoid parking on a grade, if at all possible. If you must park on a
grade, use precaution. Have someone else chock the wheels, as you apply
the regular brakes. Once the chocks are in place, release the brakes
and allow the chocks to absorb the load. Now, reapply the regular brakes,
set the parking brake, put the transmission into the parking gear, and
release the regular brakes. When it's time to leave, apply regular brakes
while starting the vehicle. Release the parking brake and then release
the regular brakes. Drive just until the chocks are free. Reapply the
regular brakes, as someone else removes the chocks.
Items to carry with you on trips:
- Always, always carry a first-aid kit with you, and make sure that
it is fully stocked!
- Bring along extra water for drinking and for cleaning wounds, should
- Have an emergency kit that contains your identification, insurance
papers, vehicle license and registration papers, as well as a list
of names and numbers to be contacted in case of an emergency. This
contact list should include your veterinarian and relatives or friends
that you wish to be reached.
- If you're going to be traveling down an interstate, be sure to carry
up-to-date equine health certificates and proof of negative Coggins
- Keep in your tow vehicle a jack, tire iron, spare tire, jumper cables,
spare belts and hoses, a tool kit, tow chain, replacement fuses, work
gloves, portable air compressor, road atlas, cash and/or credit card.
- Store in your trailer a spare tire (for the trailer), a tire iron
and jack (if trailer takes a different size than the tow vehicle),
chocks, 3 emergency triangles, flashlight, electrical and duct tape,
equine first aid kit with splint, knife, buckets and sponge, a spare
halter and lead rope, spare bulbs and fuses, WD-40, fire extinguisher,
broom, pitchfork, shovel, insect spray, and manure disposal bags.
- If you're traveling during winter months, you should bring some
extra horse blankets, extra people blankets, sand, red flag for your
antenna (if you get stranded), a candle, lighter or matches, and tire
When you're fully prepared and fully aware, traveling with your horses
can be a pleasant experience!
EquiBreeze Safe & Affordable Stock Side Trailers