Do you want to go for a nice, relaxing trail ride just to switch things up a bit? Well, unless you are lucky enough to have a trail within riding distance, you will need to trailer your horse.
- Park the trailer in a level area with good footing for the horse and plenty of clearance around the trailer for good access to all the doors
- Perform a trailer safety check Here is a link to a page outside of wikiHow that discuss trailer safety checks. http://www.whmentors.org/saf/trailer.html
- Make sure your trailer is loaded with all your gear Tack, feed, grooming supplies, camping gear, etc. Everything you need for where ever you are going, plus some spares in case things get broken or lost.
- Fill haynets, hay manger, or feed bins with some hay If you are traveling longer distances this will help keep the horse happy and healthy. It is not really necessary for shorter local hauls, but your horse will still appreciate it!
- Get your horse readyHalter him in a sturdy, well fitting halter. If you are traveling a longer distance consider wrapping your horses legs in a standing wrap or use shipping boots to protect and support his legs. If it is cold outside consider using a light sheet on the horse. Consider the use of a face guard and/or head bumper to protect his head.
- Load the horse in the trailer If you are using a side by side style trailer load the horse in the left hand stall of the trailer as it will tow more safely if the heavy side of the trailer is in the center of the road. If you are using a slant load trailer load the horse in the front stall as the trailer will generally balance better.
- Close/Latch rear doors and or butt bars or chains
- Tie your horse to tie rings (Depending on the style of trailer you may have to do this before you shut the rear doors or latch the butt bars. Just make sure your horse will not back up and pull after you have tied him!) Use a trailer tie with a quick release snap and hook it to the tie ring on the halter and the tie ring on the trailer and remove his lead rope so he does not become tangled in it. Alternately use the lead rope and tie it directly to the tie ring using a quick release knot.
- Close all drop down windows, rear doors, side doors and tack room doors. Double check even things you have already closed. Make sure they are latched tight and will not pop open while you are driving.
- Open air vents on windows and doors Do this as needed to keep plenty of air moving through the trailer. Remember horses put off a lot of heat and moisture as they breath and a hot wet trailer is not comfortable or healthy for the horse.
- Do one last walk around Check doors, wheels, the hitch and make sure nothing is amiss and no tools, lead ropes, etc. have been left on the ground, trailer fenders or leaning on the trailer.
- Drive gently Remember a trailer acts like the tail end of a crack the whip game. Take corners slowly and smoothly and do not accelerate until the "trailer" has cleared the corner. Accelerate and stop slowly and smoothly. Remember the horses are standing up back there! If it is a long haul do not haul for more than 4 hours with out stopping somewhere you can unload the horses and give them a rest, stretch and something to drink. Check for injuries at these stops too. Do a walk around at every stop and check doors, latches, wheels and the hitch.
- Park in a flat area with good footing and plenty of space to unload You may have to park and unload, then repark the trailer depending on your situation. Remember that while pavement seems like good footing to us it can be very slippery for a horse especially with metal shoes. Flat dirt or gravel is much much better if it is available.
- Unload your horse Untie them and make sure the lead rope is attached. Back them out or if you have a stock trailer you might let them turn around. Tie them to the trailer or other safe sturdy tie point, check them for injuries, unwrap their legs if you wrapped them, offer them something to drink if it has been a hot or long ride and you are all ready to go!
- Enjoy your ride!
- If your horse is young, inexperienced or just not good at loading in a trailer then practice loading before it is time to go. It may take days or weeks to train the horse to load.
- Consider tying a loop of baling twine through the tie ring on the trailer then tying your lead rope to the twine instead so that if your horse panics the twine will break as even a quick release knot is very hard to release after a horse pulls back on it.
- A haynet or hay in a manger will help keep your horse calmer, and happier. And if it is a long haul they will be healthier for it as well.
- Train your horse to trailer before you need to haul. A sick or injured horse is not interested in learning a new trick. And we need to go right now is not the right atmosphere to train a horse in either.
- Keep your trailer well maintained! Many, many, many trailer wrecks happen because of failing trail parts due to poor maintenance.
- A loaded trailer has a very heavy and high center of gravity. Drive with caution, especially on winding roads and corners.
- Trailers have a high wind load too. If driving with cross winds be very careful.
- Never enter the trailer with the horse if you can avoid it. it is a very confined space where you cannot get away from the horse if he panics. You may be stepped on, kicked or smooshed.
- If using a haynet make sure is is tied up well so that they cannot get a foot caught as the haynet becomes empty and sags.
- Hauling truck. Make sure it is good repair, check fluids, lights and tires.
- Trailer. Do a trailer safety check. Make sure it is compatible with the towing vehicle.
- One or more horses.
- Sturdy well fitting halter.
- Lead rope.
- Trailer tie (optional)
- Hay (Optional)
- Leg wraps, light sheet and/or head protector (Optional)
- A place to go!