As the start of the outdoor competition season begins, every weekend sees the roads busy with horse trailers carrying their much-loved equine passengers to events all around the country. There’s no doubt that the occupants are well cared-for, but can the same be said of the trailers?
Keeping Your Trailer Well-maintained
Horrendous accidents happen every year involving trailers that are poorly maintained. Have your trailer serviced every year by a professional to make sure it’s sound and safe, and carry out regular checks yourself too.
Make sure your vehicle is up to the job of towing the trailer, and that it’s legal. The trailer should not exceed 85% of the towing vehicle’s kerb weight in order to be legal. Don’t forget to include a full tank of fuel, your equipment, yourself and any passengers when calculating the total weight.
To stay on the right side of the law, have a number plate made for your trailer that’s the same as that of the towing vehicle.
Tires left standing unused will perish over time so check them regularly. Make sure there are no lumps, uneven wear or bald areas, and look carefully for nails in the sidewalls and treads. Tires are the only thing keeping your trailer and horse in contact with the road, so don’t take risks.
Check the pressure of the tires using a special tire gauge. You’ll find the correct pressure as recommended by the trailer manufacturer shown on a metal badge affixed to the trailer frame. If you’re not sure what the correct pressure should be, ask the manufacturer or your local garage.
When hitching up your trailer, make sure it’s correctly and securely attached to the towing vehicle.
Begin by applying the trailer handbrake. Take off the tow-ball cover or electrical socket cover, and unfasten the safety breakaway cable. Lightly oil the tow-ball. Move the towing vehicle into position and raise the trailer using the jockey wheel. Lower the coupling head onto the tow-ball until the locking handle clicks.
Lock the jockey wheel in place only when it’s fully raised so that it doesn’t drag along the ground. Re-fix the breakaway cable making sure it’s clear of the ground. Plug in the electrics and double check that all your lights and indicators are working correctly.
Before You Set Off
Once your horse is loaded up make sure he’s tied up securely so that he can’t turn around or bother his companion if you’re carrying two. Ensure any items like water containers, spare hayJnets or saddlery are securely stowed so that they don’t slide around en route. Fasten the trailer partition securely in place. Fix the breeching bar and breast bar securely.
After the journey
Resist the temptation to put off mucking out your trailer. If the floor beneath the matting gets wet, it could rot. Take out your mats, wash them and make sure they are dry before replacing them. Check the trailer floor is sound and keep windows or vents closed to stop rainwater from getting in.
Always coil up the connector cords and leave the plugs hanging down so that water does not get in. Don’t cover the plug; this can cause condensation to form and damage the electrical connection.
Take good care of your trailer and it will not only be a safe, reliable mode of transport for your horse; it will last you a lifetime, too.
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