I actually couldn't sleep last night because I kept having dreams where my horses got injured horrifically in the trailer, so I am thinking I might postpone this trip a little until I can make at least one trial run with them. The problem is, having neither truck nor trailer, it's hard to get to the trial run. But I'm thinking next time our barn goes to a show I will ask if I can tag along.
Having said that, I am still eagerly reading everyone's advice.
I'm new to hauling myself. Figured out real quick the best way to cure my horses of being barn-soured is to give them no barn to run back to. So we haul them somewhere to ride.
Hubs got tired of doing the grunt work (hooking on to the trailer, driving, etc. He's meh about trail riding, would rather go along to be the camp cook), so I decided to learn to do it myself rather than badger him into it and have to rely on him.
I compulsively check my mirrors - I don't have nightmares about it, but I've heard of horses falling through the trailer floor and being dragged to death. It's gut churning to hear about. My trailer has a very nice, very solid floor, so does our stock trailer - it's crazy unlikely the floor will magically give away, but I still worry.
The FIRST TIME I hauled alone was a trip that was an hour and a half one way. At the time, my slant was new to me, I'd literally had it for 24 hours before leaving out. I had a 3/4 ton Ford with a flatbed. On the trip home, it starts squawking at me and the letters huge and almost NEON they were so bright in the dash popped up: TRAILER BRAKE DISCONNECTED.
I HAD A HEART ATTACK... Looked in the mirrors and was scared to death - I was afraid I'd somehow lost the entire trailer on the highway. NOPE. Trailer brake wiring decided to have a short in it, so I had NO TRAILER BRAKES going home. Thank goodness I always pay attention when Hubs is hauling horses or cows or anything else behind us... just let it slow down on it's own, well ahead of time, pump the brakes gently to shut 'er down. BUT THAT ALARM THOUGH. It scared the bejesus out of me. We have a Dodge 1 ton diesel now, and it has no trailer brakes at all - but my trailer doesn't push it like it would that Ford. Still... sheesh. It's... an adventure every time we leave the house.
My trail riding barrel racing friend, T (tired of typing all that out so I'll use the first initial of her first name) was going to a race by Weatherford Tx, driving rain, she's 6 miles from the arena and feels all hell break loose in the trailer. There's no shoulder, no where to pull over safely. Scoots into the arena parking lot, bails out, her horse is still nutting out... she flings the door open - the saddle pad rack that hangs from the ceiling on the 'butt' side of her slant had given way from the ceiling, had swung around, and poked poor Peso in the face - he almost lost an eye over it!
The saddle pad rack did not get replaced. She does something different now. She doesn't want to risk it coming loose again and causing a real catastrophic injury.
I guess... the only thing I can really say is - 'stuff happens' when horses and trailers are involved. I compulsively worry, but I've had to weigh the risk of injury with the reward of enjoying time away from home with my horses.
To me, it's worth the risk.
(But I still compulsively check the mirrors)
So. Here's to hoping your trip is fun. It honestly sounds like it would be, and kudos to you for wanting to adventure forth and try something new with your ponies! To me, THIS is what owning a horse is all about - the adventure and the bonding/relationship with your horse that develops when you go places together.