Ensuring a trailer’s safety before transporting a horse is essential to the animal’s and the driver’s safety. This article gives you a guide of what to look for in a trailer to ensure it’s safe for the road before you head off.
Before you start your inspection get together a few basic tools to help you complete the job:
- A torch,
- A tire pressure checker,
- And a screwdriver.
First visual inspection
No matter if you are thinking of buying a trailer, deciding on a transporter, or about to use your own trailer, inspecting the equipment is the first step. Walk around the trailer and look at each aspect of it carefully. Begin at the sides noting panels the trailer is made from, do the sides look uniform and even? Are the joints of the panels flat and secured? Run your hand over surfaces looking for flaky paint that may be hiding rust. Stand on a stool to inspect the roof. Is there a build-up of any material? Are there rust spots or holes? Observing anything of these things won’t mean it’s not roadworthy – but it may mean you need to do some repairs before setting off.
Next, inspect the doors of the trailer: are they secure and well-fitting? Is the horse safe inside there once enclosed? Will the weight of the horse open any fastenings? Next look at the floor of the trailer. As hay can gather here and get wet causing rot or rust, check for any structural weakness. Use the screwdriver to gently poke the corners of the trailer to see if there is resistance. Next check that there is adequate ventilation inside. Horse trailers may be passively or actively ventilated. The ventilation is made through a vent to the exterior or with a fan. Make sure any vents or filters are clear and that there is enough airflow for the size of the interior. Additionally, ensure that no exhaust fumes from the transporting vehicle can enter the trailer.
Once you’ve inspected the basic structure, it’s time to turn to the mechanics of the trailer. Begin with the hitching. Depending on the kind of attachment the trailer has there are several things to look for. The breadth of hitching types is too big to cover here, but the things to look for are:
- the structural integrity of all metal parts,
- easy movement of anything that needs to click or snap into place,
- and good condition of movable parts such as blogs or wing nuts.
If you are unsure, get a professional to inspect your hitching before a big trip.
Next up we need to look under the trailer where your torch will come in handy. Lie as far down under the trailer as you can and shine the torch across the underside of the trailer. Here you are again looking for any damage or rust that could cause issues once on the road.
Next up look at the wheels and tires. The wheels should be rust-free and in good visible condition. The tires should have a good amount of grip and be inflated to the correct pressure. Use your pressure gauge to check and inflate or deflate as necessary. The final visual inspection is the electronics of the trailer. Get a friend to test brake and indicator lights to make sure vehicles behind you will have full visibility of your movements.
Once this visual inspection is over, you can start on a few other tests to check for roadworthiness and comfort. If you are going to be transporting your horse in a season with potential rain. It can be a good idea to test the waterproof capacity of the trailer. Get everything secured then use a hose to shower the trailer. Then look inside to see if there are any leaks or drips. A horse sitting under a leak for hours could cause a life-threatening cold.
If your trailer isn’t ready for transport or if you don’t have a trailer but still need to transport a horse, the transporter marketplace CitizenShipper provides you with a large list of transporters quickly with no upfront costs. Simply post your needs to the site and experienced horse transporters will contact you with a personalized bid. Once you book a driver, get your horse ready for transport by washing its blankets, preparing some food, and getting a traveling certificate.
Good luck with your horse transportation.
Updated September 17, 2021