Top Ten Steps To Towing Success
Towing advice from Bosal Tow Bars
When it comes to transporting precious cargo, there’s no greater responsibility than taking your beloved horse from to A to B.
But for many of us, the very thought of ushering your trusted steed into the back of a trailer, and hitting the highway at speed can be enough to bring us out in cold sweats.
With this in mind, we’ve teamed up with the experts at Bosal Tow Bars to share some top towing tips, ranging from the kit you choose and those all-important pre-journey checks, through to helpful horse-loading hints and on-the-road advice.
1: Choose the right tow bar
When it comes to choosing the right tow bar, you can be forgiven for getting caught up in a maze of confusion. But with handy towbar-finder wizards, such as the one over at Bosal – all you need to know is your registration number, and you’re on your way.
Simply add the make, model and year of your vehicle in the fields provided, and the search wizard will automatically generate the towbars suitable for your vehicle.
2: Get connected
With today’s vehicles becoming ever more complex, you’ll need to figure out how to connect your horse trailer’s electrics to your ride.
Modern vehicles are all computer-controlled, with advanced safety features and complexed wiring systems in place, but the good news for those of us new to towing, is that all the towbars at Bosal come with a free fitting option too. You simply book yourself in at a garage local to your home address, and leave the rest to the experts.
3: Staying connected
However, if you need to use your tow bar on a regular basis, it’s well worth investing in a kit for testing the circuits on your horse box and tow bar electrics. The Lightmate provides readouts for standard bulbs and LEDs, and can also be separately powered to check all the road light circuits on your trailer too.
4: Practice makes perfect
When it comes to transport day, the last thing you want is to be getting flustered about the hitching, especially around your horses.
Our advice is to practice coupling your trailer up at least two or three times, and then take it out for a long ride without the horses on board. Be sure to hit a range of roads, including country lanes and dual carriageways, and have a go at navigating some proper roundabouts too.
When it comes to reversing, slow and steady is the rule – so pick out a big empty field or car park, and give it a go.
5: Spaced out
Most horse trailers will be wider than the towing vehicle, so getting used to taking up the correct road position can be a bit of a challenge.
While you need to allow the additional kerbside space to avoid the trailer from hitting the pavement, you don’t want to be crossing the white lines and infiltrating the opposite carriageway either.
Use your wing mirrors to gauge positioning, and be sure to fit mirror extensions if you can’t see past the trailer sides.
6: Do your mirrors fit?
When it comes to seeing what’s going on behind you, good quality towing mirrors tend to be available for most vehicles, but some can be harder to fit than others. Even if they do fit, working out the best way to attach them securely is not a job to be tackled on the morning of your journey. Again, a trial run of fitting your extensions in advance is an excellent idea.
7: Get him on
Asking an animal to walk up a ramp, and then into a confined space goes against all of its natural instincts, which can be particularly difficult when time is against you. To remedy this, we would encourage you to keep calm at all times, and…
- Ensure you and any helpers are wearing riding hats, gloves and good, sturdy boots
- Always load your horse from the shoulder …never stand facing him or try to pull him in
- Have some feed and if you choose, a couple of lunge lines to hand
- Make sure the trailer is the right size for your horse and the floor is in good condition
We’d also advise you to try feeding your horse on the trailer regularly and then unloading him – he’ll soon understand it’s a safe place, and will warm toward the loading and unloading process.
8: Wheels in motion
Once you’re out on the road and pulling your precious animal behind you, you might be faced with some new driving situations you haven’t experienced before.
If you feel you’re losing control and trailer snaking occurs, resist the temptation to over-correct it with the steering wheel, and instead – just hold the wheel straight and brake gently.
If you hit a steep hill, remember that vehicles need to work extra hard to climb hills, so do be wary about overheating your engine. For the descent, select a low gear, using the engine as a brake to maintain control.
And finally, if you’re towing on a multi-lane carriageway – always ensure you remain on the inside lane!
9: Always carry your passport
As many readers will already be aware, penalties for not holding a Horse Passport include a statutory maximum fine of £5,000, and potential imprisonment for a term of up to three months.
However, what horse owners new to towing might not be aware of, is that since the 1st of August 2009, you must also carry your horse’s passport each time you make a journey made by vehicle – regardless of its distance or destination.
10: And finally, be prepared…
Looking after humans is hard enough sometimes, but the responsibility is even greater when you’re transporting a horse. Keep all relevant contact numbers, a hi-viz jacket and a warning triangle within easy reach, and don’t leave home without appropriate breakdown cover. Membership of a dedicated rescue scheme, such as the OHTO or Equine Rescue Services, is vital.
So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about towing your horse, but if there’s anything else you’d like to know about the technicalities of tow bars, how to arrange fitting, or which type is best for your use – contact Bosal online, or give them a call on 0800 374710