If you have just purchased your first horse trailer, then you need to learn to drive it safely. Even if you have pulled a horse trailer a thousand miles, reviewing the basics on a regular basis is a great way to make sure that you stay alert. After all, your life and the life of your horses may depend on you pulling the trailer safely.
Check Your Equipment
Horse trailer safety starts before you ever get in the vehicle. Make sure that all of your equipment is in great shape. Your hitch and your trailer need to both be mechanically sound. Hook up the lights and the brakes to make sure that they work properly. Make sure that your tires are road worthy.
Use Sway Bars
If you are pulling a hitch horse trailer, you should seriously consider sway bars. The height of the trailer causes it to sway greatly in the slightest crosswind instead of pulling smoothly behind your vehicle. When this occurs, it is incredibly easy to lose control. The purpose of sway bars is to stop the wind from moving the trailer that you are pulling. They will not only provide you and your horse with a smoother ride, but they will also make it safer for everyone.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before you put your horses in the trailer, make sure to practice pulling the trailer. The best place to practice is in an open pasture. Start by slowly pulling the trailer forward about 100 feet. Get back out of the vehicle and make sure that everything moved together. Have a friend stand behind the trailer to make sure that your brake lights and lights are working properly.
Now, get back in the vehicle and pull it around for a while. Before you get out of the vehicle, make sure to practice backing up. If you have trouble putting the back end of the trailer where you want it to go, put a hand at the bottom of the steering wheel. Slowly move your hand in the direction you want the back end of the trailer to go. If you need to make a hard turn, then turn the wheel before you ever step easily on the gas.
Load Your Horses Correctly
If you were to stand in the middle of a highway and look down a straight stretch, then you would discover that the road rises slightly to the middle. If you have a slant-load trailer, then load the heaviest horse to the front of the trailer. If you have a straight-load trailer, then put the heaviest horse on the driver’s side of the trailer. When possible, do both. This will help distribute the weight evenly helping it pull smoothly behind your vehicle.
On the Road
Now that you have checked the safety of all of your equipment, installed sway bars and loaded the trailer correctly, it is time to hit the road. Make sure to drive with your headlights on so that other drivers can see you more easily. Realize that it takes longer to stop with a trailer behind you, so do not allow yourself to get in a hurry. The first few miles are usually the scariest, so take your time and relax. Soon you will be pulling a horse trailer like a professional.