How to Safely Use Horse Trailers
Horse trailers are the best way to transport your horses. Designed to meet the needs of the large animals, they are safe, easy ways to move your horses from location to location, reducing injury risk and keeping your animals less anxious throughout the entirety of the trip. There are many makes and models available which are built to accommodate anywhere from a single horse up to 10 horses at a time. While smaller units will have a simple ball-joint hitch on the front and will attach to almost any towing vehicle, some of the larger more luxurious models come complete with living quarters and all the amenities of home.
Some initial considerations you will need to think about when looking at making a purchase are how many stalls you require, whether to go for a straight load or a slant load, if you need living quarters or not, whether a tag-along or gooseneck horse trailer is best and to make sure your tow vehicle is suited to safely tow the trailer you've settled on. However, choosing the right horse trailer is only one aspect of transporting your horses safely. Towing this type of trailer is unlike towing any other load. It is also important to make sure that you do all you can in order to safely maneuver the trailer during your horse’s travel.
Here are some safety tips for drivers who are transporting horses.
1. Test safety features before leaving.
Always test and make sure that your wiring is correct and the trailers brake lights, running lights and turning lights are working properly before heading out on a trip.
2. Pay attention to signs that something is wrong with your trailer.
Trailers are simple vehicles. When something may be going wrong with the structure of your trailer, there will be signs that something may be wrong. If you hear any worrisome noises or a part of the trailer appears flimsy, there is no reason to take risks – get it checked out so that you can be absolutely sure your horse is staying safe.
3. Keep the weight of the cargo in balance.
When there is an improper balance of weight in your load, the contents of your trailer may be weighted too heavily on one side. This can not only increase damage risk of structure, but it can also cause your trailer to swerve back and forth, which may put it at risk for oncoming traffic.
4. Pay attention to weather conditions and go slow if necessary.
While these trailers are very sturdy, their cargo is not so lucky. Should your car swerve wildly due to wet weather or ice, your horse can be easily injured. On days where the weather is not in your favor, drive slower during the majority of your trip.
5. Take breaks during long trips.
If something is wrong with your horse, the longer it takes for you to find out about the problem, the more dangerous it is. On long trips, take several breaks to make sure your horse(s) are okay, and that they have adequate water and food supply. Also, be sure and inspect your horse trailer every time you stop to make sure no parts appear to have broken down during transport. It's also important to ensure that the trailer is well ventilated in order to keep your horse comfortable.
6. Choose a sturdy tow vehicle.
Always make sure that your horse trailer is compatible with your truck or car. Transporting your horse is much easier when you have chosen a strong, easy to control vehicle to do the transporting. Several horse owners choose to use cars and trucks with manual transmissions because it becomes easier to keep your car in a lower gear for safer transport.
Horse trailers are only as effective as the person that is driving them. Since the most important part of any trailer is the cargo inside, always adhere to these safety precautions and never be afraid to be “too careful.”
If you're looking to buy a new trailer the most popular brands are Featherlite, Sundowner, Bison, Sooner, Exiss, Hawk, Hart and Gore. You can also find excellent deals on used equipment if you're on a tight budget. You can often find used models for as low as $1,000. Some great places to look for deals are at county fairs, rodeos and other similar events. However, always remember that while it's great to get a deal on used trailer your first and foremost concern should be the safety of your horse(s).
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