Hauling your precious cargo this summer? Karlie Mitchell has a few reminders.
A lot of people are gearing back up for a busy summer of horse-related events. Whether you are an avid competitor or a trail rider, many of us haul our own horses around. I recently pulled my trailer out of its winter storage, took it in for a good wash and now I’m ready to go…. right? Not quite. Here’s my list of ten things to do/check before hitting the road.
1. Tires. A simple kick to see if they’re firm won’t cut it. Check the pressure in each tire with a gauge to ensure they are all filled within recommended specifications and that all tires are at a similar pressure. It’s a good time to check for any wearing or cracking. Even if they are not turning down the road, UV rays alone can take a toll on resting tires.
2. Grease moving parts. My trailer has several grease knobs on various moving parts. It’s a good idea to grease your trailer according to the manufacturer’s specifications. On my own trailer, for example, it’s recommended that I grease the doors, windows, etc. once a month. Since the trailer has aluminum, I have good-quality grease that is approved for use on that surface.
3. Peel those mats back. It’s a good idea once a month — at least — to peel the mats back and check what’s going on under there. Whether your trailer floor is wood, aluminum, or steel, urine and manure can damage it. If you notice any soiling that got under the mats, remove them, wash the trailer out, allow to dry, and then put the mats back. I like to sprinkle baking soda under my mats to help neutralize urine that can get under there.
4. Lug nuts. Again, check your trailer manual as it should specify how often you need to check the tightness on your wheel lug nuts and exactly how much torque they should be tightened to.
5. Brakes. I don’t handle my own brakes — this is something I leave to a professional. Just like your vehicle brakes, your trailer brakes will wear out. It’s important to either check them or have them checked by a qualified professional. The same goes for trailer bearings.
6. Lights. Make sure all lights are working properly and no bulbs are burned out.
7. Check that you have items needed for roadside emergencies. Do you have a spare tire? How about the tools to change it if necessary?
8. Check that you have a human and horse first aid kit in the trailer. Especially if you live somewhere where it gets cold in winter and you remove a lot of items from your trailer, make sure they are all back and restocked including any first aid items.
9. Check for any wear or deterioration beyond just the floor. After a good wash, go through the trailer and ensure there are no broken parts or areas of corrosion. Having an aluminum trailer, I really have to watch closely; the aluminum can be affected if it’s not kept clean. If you check these surfaces regularly, you can catch little spots of deterioration and tend to them before they get worse.
10. Ensure the truck pulling your trailer is up to date on all maintenance. This includes tires, oil, brakes, lights, etc. The trailer won’t be going very far without a truck, so make sure it’s up to the job.
These are just a few tips: it’s a good idea to become familiar with your trailer manufacturer’s recommendations and follow them to always ensure your precious cargo is safe on the road and that you get the most out of your trailer.
About Karlie: I am from Alberta, Canada and live on a farm with my equine crew (a Paint, QHx Arab, and two OTTBs). I mainly do English and jumping, but also enjoy western and trail riding. I love riding, training, learning about equine science-related topics, and having a great time with my horses.