A Complete Guide On Horse Trailering

A Complete Guide On Horse Trailering

A Complete Guide On Horse Trailering

US reading guide.

A horse trailer at disposal offers freedom to people to bring their horses with them to several places. For example, horse trailering can help carry horses to shows, trails, clinics, and even the beach. Besides, having a horse trailer allows horse owners to take urgent action if any medical emergency arises. 

Owning and operating a horse trailer comes with additional concerns and responsibilities. Whether a person is new to horse trailer ownership or is looking for help with traveling, this article is the right place for all their queries. It encompasses a complete horse trailering checklist for people to know before they move on to towing the horse trailer.

Measures To Be Taken For Safe Horse Trailering!

Particular concerns are essential to pay attention to before, during, and after travel. A secure horse trailering involves effective planning and experienced foresight. The aim is to reach the destination hassle-free while keeping the four-legged travelers at the utmost possible comfort and care. 

Everything Horse UK offers updated news feeds and articles on equines. Listed below are the essential measures to be taken for long or short-distance travel.

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A horse with owner
  • Horse Trailer Inspection Prior To The Trip

An inspection before commencing the trip is essential for a safe and smooth road trip for the owner and horses. This inspection includes checking the trailer and the equipment. The following suggestions can help offer a successful pre-trip inspection. 

  • Flooring

Look under the mats at the bottom of the trailer. Check whether any corrosion occurred due to urine and manure contact with the floor for aluminum floors. Also, keep an eye for any weak spot or structural decay in the flooring that may have occurred over time.

Aluminum floors are prone to transferring road heat and becoming slippery over time. Therefore, slip-proof mats are highly recommended. For wooden floors, frequently check to spot any rotten areas. Be it dry rot or dampness on the floor, the soft flooring indicates an immediate need for replacement. 

  • Floor support system

The support system must be checked for any rust, weak spots, or corrosion underneath the trailer. The life of horses depends on the shape of the trailer flooring. Hence, both the flooring and the support system underneath must be checked frequently. 

  • Trailer interior 

Before loading the horses or any equipment, make sure to check the interior thoroughly. Inspect all the trailer surfaces for broken or cracked areas that may injure the horses. A metal or plastic snag may pose a problem. 

Check the latches and dividers if they are in shape and are working well. Prevent any bee, wasp, or rodents from building nests or moving into the trailer between trips. 

  • Batteries

All batteries, be they on the breakaway system or not, are checked using a battery tester. This ensures all batteries are fully charged before taking off. One may even take the help of a mechanic or professional to do this for them. 

  • Grease

Like any other vehicle, even a horse trailer needs excellent greasing. Grease the fittings located on different parts of the system and maintain them. Remember not to over-grease. If a person is unaware of the right amount of grease for their trailer, they may take help from any qualified mechanic. 

  • Safety chains

Every horse trailer must be equipped with safety chains. This ensures the safety of horses is intact on bumpy roads or during speed driving. For instance, any loaded horse trailer must have safety chains in any city in the U.S.

  • Ramps

The trailer ramps must be of substantial construction with a non-slip mat for loading and unloading horses. Besides, the rear doors, the exterior escape doors, and latches must also be checked. Another aspect is the trailer hitch. Ensure all of them are working in good order. 

  • Tires 

Before hooking, all tires, including the spare ones, must be checked thoroughly. Look for any signs of severe wear and tear, bald spots, or wires that may be exposed or have undergone dry rot. One may even take the help of a mechanic to check the lug nuts to ensure all of them are tightened and secured well. 

Every tire is marked with the appropriate air pressure recommended for the tire. Make sure to check the air pressure of every tire before every trip. Horse trailer owners must own a tire pressure gauge for using them when needed. If the tires are older than four years, it is recommended to replace them before the next trip. 

  • Windows 

Horse trailers equipped with sliding or drop-down windows must have screens fitted with them. This will prevent any flying debris from hitting the horse’s eyes when on the road. Also, having additional bars may ensure the horses don’t stick their heads out when traveling on the road. 

  • Safety gears

Horses must be equipped with every necessary safety gear to prevent any damage during unwanted accidents. This may include head bumpers, safety halters, and quilted leg wraps. Make sure the safety tie straps are in good working conditions before attaching them to the horses. 

  • Lights

Check the interior and exterior lights for their good functionality. The interior lights help to keep a check on the horses when on the road. Besides, the exterior lights help to load and unload better during the nighttime. This acts as an added layer of safety when traveling with horses during the night. 

  • Reflective aids

Make use of reflective aids on the rear ramp or trailer doors. This aids greater visibility to other motorists on the road. One may even add a caution message at the rear of the trailer for added safety. 

  • Enough room

Every horse trailer must have ample room for the horse to fit in and be comfortable as well. It must have enough headroom. The trailer must feel light, airy, and spacious for the horses to fit in. Make sure not to panic the horses with a feeling of confinement. 

  • Stocked up toolbox

Having an adequately stocked toolbox aids emergency repairs on the go. This also ensures equipment adjustments take place easily on the road. 

  • Emergency road aids

Emergency aids may include flares and triangles for using them during the day or night. It may help protect the owner and its horses during any emergency breakdown on the highway. Besides, other people in passenger vehicles will also avoid any tragic accident due to poor visibility. 

  • Lifting Up

Having predetermined precautionary measures at hand is far better an option than a cure later on. This concept holds true even for horse trailers as well. Before loading, make sure to tick off the following from the safety checklist. 

  • Hooking up

Hook up the trailer to the truck and check the hitch apparatus. Ensure the coupler, safety chains, and breakaway brake system are properly attached and secured in place. If required, double-check the entire hooking up process.

  • Checking brakes

Before loading the horses, make sure to give one last check to the trailer brakes as well as the brake box. It will assure the braking system is functioning and adjusted correctly to the system. While underway, the brake system may require further adjustments once the horses are loaded. 

  • Checking flights

The lights of the horse trailer are of utmost importance apart from the truck’s headlights. This includes the brake lights, signal lights, and running lights. It is recommended to take help from an assistant to keep a close watch on the signals while the owner employs them from the driver’s seat. If necessary, the owner can himself keep an eye on the running lights.

  • Checking vents

Ventilation is a crucial aspect to ensure the horses don’t feel suffocated throughout the journey. The vents provide enough fresh air for the horses in trailers to breathe in on the go; the overhead vents may be hard to access once the horses are loaded. Hence, ensure the ventilation is opened prior to horse loading. 

Even during the winter days, make sure the horses have received a well-ventilated trailer. In the absence of proper ventilation, the horses may suffer from moisture, harmful odors, and heat trapped inside the trailers. 

  • Bedding

The bed of the trailer floor must be deep. Thick bedding will offer a cushiony ride, eliminating odors and absorbing urine. It will also prevent any urine and manure from leaking or spreading onto the trailer flooring. 

During the summer season, owners may wet the bedding. This offers a cooling effect within the trailer. In addition, it prevents fine dust particles from becoming airborne. Keep in mind that dampening the bedding without slip-proof mats covering the flooring can cause danger to the horses. It may create slippery floors once it comes in contact with enough moisture. 

  • Water and feed

Before horse loading, hand water buckets and hay bags to make it accessible to the horses at all times during the ride. Make sure the hangings inside the stall are attached with safety for the horses. 

It is recommended to use constructed hay bags and buckets to keep them in place when the trailer is moving. This prevents any possibility of the horses from getting their head or a leg hung up on the netted bag or water bucket.

Horses in their stalls
Horses in their stalls
  • Loading Process

Horses are pretty intelligent creatures. However, they also have a slight or flight response ingrained in their instincts. Therefore, despite its smartness and training, a horse can become panicked, scared, or hurt the handler by accident. Head over to DoubleDTrailers.com to know more about horse trailer loading. Go through the tips below to ensure the loading process is done smoothly without harming the horses. 

  • Begin loading the horses

Before leaving for the trip, loading the horses into the trailers might be the last task on the list. Put the head bumpers, blankets, or wraps on the horses before moving them from the stall and onto the trailer. 

  • Taking steps to load the horses

When a trailer is big enough to accommodate more than one horse, a horse loading order is crucial when using a rear load trailer. The stalls within the trailer have limited place for accommodation.

For nervous, agitated, or newly traveling horses, try putting them in the rear of the trailer, however, pay attention to the weight of the horse as this depicts what side they should be loaded on. The heavier horse should be traveled on the driver’s side. Practicing at home can pay dividends when it comes to leaving the barn, and on the road. 

  • Mental readiness

As a trainer and horse owner, having the right frame of mind is essential for handling and loading horses. At times, a horse or even a seasoned veteran may become nervous before getting into a trailer. 

If the owner hurries, becomes angry, or impatient, it will cause more challenges. If the handler is upset with a horse, it tends to wind up more. Even the most thought out, careful and safe horse trailering plan may crumble if not handled with calmness.

  • Dealing with unwilling horses

A handler must not make the mistake of forcefully attempting to load a reluctant horse into the trailer. This endangers the handler as well as the horse further. Through skillful handling, patience, and knowledge, it is possible to trick the horses into thinking that they are willing to enter the trailer. Practice loading and unloading with the horses long before they plan to go somewhere. 

The handler must be completely aware of its position in relation to the loaded horse and the trailer. Getting pinned to the corner is the last thing a handler would want. Finding a way out of the trailer, the frightened horse has the possibility of squashing by accident, hurting the handler and trapping it in a bad spot. 

A horse in a barn
  • Hitting The Trails

Once the trailer starts moving with the truck, make sure to keep the horses in utmost comfort and safety until the destination is reached. 

  • Imagine being in the shoes of the horses

Try to imagine standing inside the trailer – a noisy, hot and cramped box with shaking and shifting floor. While standing, one may feel the bumpy road, continuously change the weight from one leg to another, become tired. Besides, one may even have to experience smelling the exhaust fumes to boot. All these factors may be troubling for the horses. 

Hence, the health condition of the horses is of utmost importance. With that factor in mind, slowly take the corner when turning. Accelerate slowly from the top and prevent slamming the brakes when stopping at any place. Give a slight tap as a cue to the brakes before applying it completely This cue prepares the horses for the coming turning point or stop. 

  • Horse trailering during the night

If possible, try offering small breaks every few hours. This allows the horses to relax their muscles, have some water and feed themselves. Besides, the handler may also have a chance to check the ventilation, inspect visually and assess the horses’ behavior. 

Check the trailer as well during these breaks. During summers, it is preferable for the brakes to be taken under a shady spot. This ensures a quick airflow to keep moving within the trailer. 

  • Tying the horses

For typing the horses inside the trailer, a safety halter or a safety tie are the best options. Ensure the horses are loosely tied to allow enough room for the horse to gain the lungs or drop their head. However, it must be long enough to enable its legs to get over the rope.

Horses may tend to sit back. Therefore, leaving enough space for the horse’s back to touch the wall. In this way, the horse may feel something at the back and move forward. This helps keep the horse moving without putting much pressure on the tied rope.

  • Horse trailer monitoring

A trailer monitor or camera may come in handy when going on a trip with horses. Let a companion accompany you to watch what’s going on inside the trailer. This will keep the driver from diverting their attention from the road and ensure a safe trip for humans and horses.

  • Keeping lead ropes in handy

For pulling the horse trailer, a couple of lead ropes must be present within the truck. This helps get leads quickly within the truck if any horse gets loose. 

  • Electrolytes

When traveling in hot weather conditions, offer electrolyte paste to the horses. This may encourage them to drink more water on the road. The handler must keep an eye on the hoses and routinely offer drinking water to the horses. Be very vigilant in checking for dehydration of the horses on the trailer. 

  • Layover stalling for trailering overnight

At times, traveling may take days before reaching the final destination. During such times, stopping by layover stables every day allows the horses to stretch their legs, relax, eat, rehydrate, rest, and unwind for horses before reaching the next or final stop.

When doing a layover, make sure to disinfect the stalls where the horses are staying. Use a commercial equine disinfectant fit for purpose and lay down appropriate bedding to ensure the horse’s comfort.

  • Unloading

Upon arriving at the destination, try to get the horses out of the trailer as soon as possible. Allow enough time for the horse to adapt to its new environment.

Once the horses are off the trailer, let them eat and drink better to re-energize. 

Wrapping up!

Horse trailering allows perfect freedom for both the handler and its horses. It allows owners to travel to horse shows, events, trail rides, horse vacations, educational events, and clinics. Create a personal and safe horse trailering plan, or check list, based on the above-mentioned guidelines. Follow this plan, and the chances are that the horses will arrive in good shape by the end of the journey.

Remember, this plan isn’t exhaustive. Be sure to research the area in further detail before purchasing a trailer and planning your first outing.

If you are in any doubt over your horse trailer’s safety you should contact a reputable manufacturer and/or mechanic that specialises in livestock transport.

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