Preparing Your Horse Trailer For Travel

Reduce the stress of travel for you and your horses this show season by taking the time to inspect and prepare your trailer before hitting the road. From floors to ceiling vents, inspect and update your trailer for safe and stress-free transportation.

Without proper trailer preparation, travel can be a source of equine stress, illness and injury, according to The Center for Equine Health at the University of California at Davis. Keep your trailer in perfect working condition and, after a long winter’s rest, recondition your horses for safe entry and peaceful riding. A trailer-skittish horse and uninspected trailer can be a deadly combination.

Take about an hour to inspect your trailer during the busy hauling season, according to Equus Magazine, and schedule a full checkup and brake inspection with a trusted mechanic annually.

Floors

Start at the bottom by inspecting the floors of your trailer. A horse’s foot going through the floor of a trailer during transit results in some of the most gruesome injuries that occur during trailering, according to retired veterinarian Robert M. Miller, DVM, in Equus magazine. Inspect floors before every journey, especially where wood can rot and lose its strength. Even with rubber floor mats, urine and fecal matter will work quickly to undermine the flooring. Remove and clean mats and make sure drainage holes are unplugged.  Sweep or hose out the floor and make sure it’s completely dry before replacing the mats to avoid rotting. Place rubber mats so they are flush with the floor to avoid tripping hazards. Along with rotting flooring, the ammonia fumes of urine will lead to respiratory distress for your passengers, according to the CEH at UC Davis. Before heading out, provide fresh absorbent bedding to make sure the flooring stays non-slip for the duration of your travel.

Exterior

Wash the exterior of the trailer and its ramp. Along with keeping your trailer looking good, a thorough cleaning is a perfect opportunity to inspect for rust, broken seals, weakened hinges, cracks in windows and roof leaks. Verify that all the doors and windows can be closed and locked securely.

Interior

Wipe down and examine the interior of the trailer looking for any exposed sharp edges, loose screws, or damaged padding that need repairs. The surface should be smooth and safe without any hazards.  Inspect any interior tie-down rings to be sure they are safely and securely anchored. Test interior gates and rails and lubricate any balky hinges and locks.

Vents and Doors

Inspect all windows and vents to make sure they open and close properly. Heat and lack of fresh air circulation are among the greatest threats to your equine passengers. Windows should slide open to allow air to enter and roof vents should allow the heat to escape above the horses’ heads and draw in air when needed. If your travel plans include frequent stops, where the trailer will not be moving and generating cooling air, consider installing battery-operated fans.

Tires and hitches

Inspect and lubricate your hitch. Check for any missing parts and be sure the chains are ready for use.  Inspect the trailer’s tires for sign of wear and check tire pressure to be sure it’s the level recommended by the manufacturer. Checking in the early part of the day, when it’s cooler, will yield a more accurate measure. Over and under-inflated tires cause excessive wear and tear, a rough ride, and increase your risk of a blow-out. Check your spare tire to be sure it is in useable condition.

Test Load

Preparations for any trip with your horse trailer should include a dry run. Load your horses, heaviest on the drivers’ side. Check the overall weight of your loaded trailer and verify against the towing capacity of your vehicle. Watch your passengers to see if they have adequate room to move their heads and feed as well as have appropriate space to maintain their balance while you’re driving.

Emergency Information and Gear

Pack your emergency gear in the towing vehicle, post emergency contact information in an easy-to-find location inside the trailer as well as the towing vehicle in the event you are incapacitated in an accident. Know your route ahead of time, taking note of veterinarians, rest stops, and road hazards before you leave.

Maintenance and Repair

Preparation for any trip with your horse trailer begins with regular maintenance and professional repair.  Keep your horse trailer safe and comfortable for your equine passengers with regularly scheduled maintenance with trusted the trusted service personnel at Crossroads Trailer Sales in Newfield, N.J.