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Published On: Mon, Sep 15th, 2014

Hauling Horses: Your Ultimate Checklist for the Safe Trailering

You need to get a horse to a distant location yet you want to avoid all possible bumps and bruises along the way.  Before you start the engine, read the ultimate checklist related to horse and trailer.

The Tires

Tires may appear intact on the outside but check the date (on the side of the tire) it was issued.  You shouldn’t ride on tires after five years of use or storage.  Even if you don’t ride many miles on top of them, tires are prone to rot and deterioration depending on weather, location, and place of storage.

Public domain image/Dusan Bicanski

Public domain image/Dusan Bicanski

The Experience

Horses and drivers need experience and exposure to new trailers before taking a long haul.  Be sure you are familiar with the trailer, even if you “have driven one of that size before.”

Ideally, you need to ask for expert opinion before taking a horse on a long ride.  Vets and equine specialists can provide insight regarding a horse’s temperament and successful training.

The Hitch

The ball of the receiver must match that of the trailer hitch.  Do not try and ‘make it fit,’ placing you and the horse in danger if the trailer becomes disconnected.  In addition, check the pin that holds the hitch in place is free or rust and will remain in place.

The Floors

Replace wooden floors every ten years; urine and manure are destructive elements and wear floorboards.  There are alternatives, such as plastics and rubber mats, yet wooden floors with sawdust atop, are incredibly comfortable.

The Ventilation

Open trailer slats and windows, yet remember horses get curious and will attempt to rescue their heads from the inside of the trailer when given the chance.  Secure horses inside the cabin, so they cannot turn around yet have room to lay down, stretch, and feel less stressed.

The Extras

First-aid kits make sure drivers can attend to minor emergencies, yet in the event of something major, do not assume EMTs know how to treat horses.  Have an ICE (in case of emergency) sheet available for rescue workers, so they may contact horse specialists during worst-case scenarios.

Photo by Scott Bauer Agricultural Research Services

Photo by Scott Bauer Agricultural Research Services

The Dimensions

Equine products host names like “2-horse” for a reason; don’t be attracted to a 2-horse gooseneck trailer for sale if you need enough space for three or more horses.  Some believe it’s cheaper to attempt to get away with paying less or making the most with the least, yet it costs more in the long run and threatens the safety of horses involved.

The Drive

Don’t assume you know how a particular trailer drives and maneuvers.  Practice, and make sure the tow vehicle can pull the weight of the trailer in addition to the horses and supplies.

Avoid rural roads whenever possible.  The pickup and drop-off location could be in rural places with plenty of room for animals, yet fierce turns and steep hills make it hard to maintain the balance of the trailer and horses within.

Leave plenty of room between you and other drivers, and don’t be intimidated on major highways, buckling under the pressure of faster drivers and impatient traffic.

The Attitude

Maintaina positive attitude toward the horse and don’t force an animal into a fearful situation.  Consider the horse could have had an unfortunate previous experience with a trailer or forceful trainer.

Location can influence the horse’s apprehension or willingness to board the trailer.  Some trainers use food to tempt the horse, or divert attention from a fearful situation in the least.  Stay by the horse and guide it onto the trailer, giving gestures of reassurance the entire time.

Per the checklist above, you’ll need to know the history of the horse, ensure the hitch fits the trailer, and choose your routes wisely to make the trip free of bumps and bruises.  Be patient in going through each step above.  Once you get on the road, it will be smooth sailing.

Guest Author :

Estela Cooper has worked in her family’s stables since she was old enough to pick up a bucket. Now with many years of experience and a deep passion for horses, she loves blogging about her tips and tricks for horse care, from basic grooming to training to transportation.

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