Towing safety advice wanted - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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Towing safety advice wanted

I am going to learn how to tow our horse trailer and I'm a little nervous about it. I am planning to tow it empty a few times so I can get a feel for it before I tow a horse around. Anyway, I'm looking for some suggestions and advice on towing safety as I have never towed anything in my life and really know nothing about it.
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post #2 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 11:13 AM
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I was 16 when I bought my first trailer. I borrowed the money from my sister $800.

I asked the trailer dealer if he had any advice for me. He told me to never let anyone else hookup or unhook your trailer. They are words I religously adhere to to this day, 35 years later.
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post #3 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 11:35 AM
Green Broke
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Have your trailer inspected and serviced at regular intervals. lights checked, wheel bearings packed, brakes inspected, and floor checked for wood rot, tires inspected and aired up to proper pressure. Same for the tow vehicle. Towing puts extra stress on the tow vehicle. Change the oil and transmission fluid more frequently do to the extra heat generated by towing. A radiator flush and fill if you haven't had it done in awhile.

Don't exceed the GVWR of your tow vehicle.

I have my trailer service every August when it's to hot to ride and before the weather cools so I can take advantage of good riding weather. I don't do it myself although I could. I want a receipt in case I'm involved in an accident. Keep good records. They'll help should you become involved in a law suit.

Check your lights every time you hook up.

Buy a good brake controller. Don't skimp here as the trouble usually isn't towing, but rather stopping. A good brake controller makes for smooth comfortable stops.

Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you. I don't know why, but it seems that people see a truck and horse trailer and then want to be in front of it so they'll often pull out in front of you causing you to have to brake hard to avoid them.

Avoid towing in the hottest part of the day, it's harder on the vehicle and on the horses.

Talk to your insurance company, make sure you have adequate coverage.

Take your time, don't get in a hurry, drive defensibly, and beware of the traffic around you.
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post #4 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 01:59 PM
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I am going to assume your trailer & tow vehicle are ready to go, all safe, inspected etc. Yes, practise hauling empty, practise backing up, make sure you are hauling with someone who knows how to back rigs and has hauled lots before. Practise hooking up & unhooking your rig. Know where everything is on the trailer & tow vehicle. You'll find once you're loaded up with horses, the trailer will haul different, I find more stable, but a different feeling. 1# thing, never brake around a corner, drive about 5 miles under the speed limit, give yourself plenty of time for turns, etc, however you should really be hauling with someone who knows all this and can instruct you. Makes things way easier.
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post #5 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 02:34 PM
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Practice parking and backing up. I went to a huge parking lot on a weekend when there wasn't much traffic for my first time. The number one rule on parking and backing up is not to get in a hurry. Go a little, check your position, correct/do over, whatever, but don't get upset.

All the safety advice above is right on...I would add that you allow plenty of time and be sure to gradually speed up and slow down, especially careful around corners. It is sometimes recommended that you have someone drive and you ride for a short trip *alone, no horses* in your trailer so you get an idea of what it feels like to the horse.

Also, I *always* do a walkaround (like a pilot's pre-flight checklist) before hitting the road, to make sure all connections, lights, ropes/halters, and doors are safely hooked/shut/stowed where they are supposed to be. Learned that the hard way, when one of my tack doors came open on the traffic side during the ride down a narrow hilly country road with no safe place to stop. Yikes!

Lastly, I always plan my routes ahead of time and plan a contingency for if I miss a critical turn, especially in the country for trailheads - I want to know how to get back to where I need to be, and if I need to turn around, I want to know where there are good spots to do that. Saved my poor butt a couple of times that way!

Last edited by Ladytrails; 01-07-2012 at 02:37 PM.
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post #6 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 04:26 PM
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All great advice. I would second all the double and triple checks...and caution you-I am super uber cautious.......check everything numerous times. BUT-one time-let my (more experienced horseperson) friend hook up, since it was her trailer-and she forgot to put the pin in the hitch. We were EXTREMELY lucky to get home safely. Trailer literally fell off the truck in the driveway.

Anyway, you CAN do this-I was super nervous (still am when I start out) but get better all the time. Just never forget that you have a living breathing creature in there-do not make sudden turns, direction changes, etc. I do go speed limit, at least, when I am on the highway, so that I stay with traffic, and you will get comfortable with that.

I have insurance-like AAA for horse trailers, that I highly recommend if you go any distances. It is a great comfort to me to have this when I do long hauls (6-8 hours) especially when I am alone. THis is what I have
USRider • Equestrian Motor Plan • Roadside Assistance for Equestrians Several of my friends have it also, and have actually had to use it. THey highly recomend it.

I have sway bars, which I think help, and second the good brake controller-along with learning to USE them.

GOod luck! Happy trails!

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post #7 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 05:14 PM
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Few other tips to add to what's been said.

-When approaching a corner that has a posted speed, consider that a maximum speed for the corner. We get used to going 5, 10, 15+ miles an hour faster in our cars but you don't want to do that with a horse trailer.

-Until you get used to your acceleration speed with a load, don't pull out until the road is clear for quite a distance. With practice you'll figure out when it's safe to pull out and when it isn't.

-Slow way down for rail road tracks, pot holes and rough roads.

-Do some panic stops with that empty trailer so you get a feel for it. As someone else mentioned, people just have to get in front of trailers then often slam on their brakes to turn or pull out right in front of you.

-Ice is SCARY with a trailer. If the weather looks like it can turn to snow/ice the trailer stays parked.
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post #8 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 06:41 PM
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Use your common sense and do not be one of those emotional, panicky people. Hook your trailer up and do a walk around a couple of times... Check hitch, trailer doors etc. Tow the trailer all over, make right hand turns in traffic etc. Get comfortable with it. You will be fine hauling your horse, just do not get over emotional, common sense.
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post #9 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 09:48 PM
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What are you towing? Also if only hauling 1 horse in a straight load it should be on the drivers side.
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post #10 of 19 Old 01-07-2012, 10:26 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jan 2011
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One thing I keep mind when towing, especially horses, is to drive like you have a full cup of hot coffee on the dash and can't spill a drop. In other words, drive carefully and smoothly. Accelerate and brake smooth and steady if you can. Take turns wider than normal and slower. It may piss people off behind you but you don't want to be tossing the horses around in the trailer like a rag doll.

Always signal for turns in advance and hive yourself extra room to slow down. When we first got our trailer, the electric brakes quit working at times. If I hadn't given myself extra room, I would have ended up in the middle of some intersections.
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