Trailering 101: An Introduction to Traveling Safely
By Devin Morrissey.
There are a lot of perks to life on the road, especially that sense of freedom and space while embarking on an adventure. The places to explore are seemingly limitless, and the road guides the way. For horse owners, this sense of travel is made even better with a horse, and their sense of wanderlust is not bound by the road.
No matter your reason for transporting your horses, it’s important to find the right trailer for you. There are also plenty of towing tips, preparation needs, and safety precautions to know about in order to make your trip a safe one for you and your horses.
Finding the Right Trailer for You
There will be different types of trailers for each person depending on which type of life you live on the road with your horses. There are bumper tow trailers, gooseneck horse trailers, and living quarter horse trailers. For short trips and a horse or two, a bumper tow trailer should work just fine. However, bigger trailers may be necessary if you are transporting more horses or traveling longer distances. If you’re heading to many different locations, having a horse trailer with living quarters may be the most beneficial because they have so many amenities for you and your horses. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s the right trailer for you.
Trailer Towing Tips
If you aren’t accustomed to towing a horse trailer, make sure you’ve gotten a lot of practice before towing animals. One great tip is to hook the trailer to your truck while empty for three weeks and leave it there. Drive it like that to get groceries, take the kids to school, run errands, etc., and it’ll help you learn how to maneuver your trailer before you fill it with animals. Always drive with your horse’s safety in mind, and remember to try to give them the smoothest ride you can. Use big empty parking lots (like shopping centers after hours) to practice turning and backing up. You can even bring hay bales or orange cones to practice your backup technique.
Here are some tips to remember:
- Practice driving with a cup of water in your cup holder; it’ll help you to see how smooth your driving is for your horses.
- Look up the trailer requirements in the states you’re driving in.
- Take frequent breaks to keep you and your animals calm on the drive.
- Keep a set of trailer-leveling blocks, tools, a tow strap, and wheel chocks in your trailer.
Make sure when you’re on the road that you’re prepared for your needs as well as those of your horses. Bring extra everything, and have something for your horses to munch on during their drive and their overnight stays. This will keep them full and busy while traveling. Keeping your horses hydrated while traveling may be difficult, but soaking their hay in water can be helpful.
Take care to prepare your vehicle, trailer, and veterinary information before leaving. This includes emergency contacts, first aid kits, and any trailer necessities required in the states you’ll be driving in. Trailering 101 is all about being prepared and making sure you and your horses are comfortable and safe.
In addition to your necessities, you should always have these things in your truck while towing — many travelers keep these spares in their trailer, which can be damaged in an accident with these items inaccessible:
- Extra halters and lead ropes.
- Reflective gear to put on the road in case of an accident.
- Tube socks to help keep bandages on.
- Emergency tape to help corral horses in an area in case of an emergency.
There’s a lot that can happen on the road, but pulling cargo can make an accident even more dangerous. For life on the road with horses, your cargo is precious, so it’s vital to drive with caution and take it slow. It’s also important to realize that other drivers can be a cause for concern on the road, so always remain aware of your surroundings and other vehicles. In order to keep you and your horses safe, make sure you have a plan if something happens. Whether you get in an accident, you break down, or your horses become injured or ill, being prepared can help you through each situation. Make a plan for who to call and remain calm. Being prepared will help you and your horses get through a safety concern.
Some extra safety precautions include:
- Adding emergency and contact info inside your trailer in case it gets separated from you or your vehicle.
- Checking for weather and road conditions before getting on the road.
- Asking your vet about leg wraps or shipping boots to keep your horse’s legs safe.
- Practicing loading and unloading your horses before a trip.
There are plenty of people who spend a lot of their life on the road with their horses. While some travel with their horses more intermittently, the precautions are the same. Whether you’re traveling for work, going on a vacation, or taking a long trip with your horses, be sure you’re being safe and cautious. Get the right trailer, practice towing it, be prepared, and take plenty of safety precautions. Having horses doesn’t mean you can’t travel with them, it just takes some know-how and preparations to do it.
Devin Morrissey dreams of writing abroad, but he’s settling for writing on the road. You can find him on Twitter or across the Pacific Northwest, but tweeting him is probably easier.
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