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Tip of the Week


Trailer Smart for Safe Hauling (Part 1)

How to make a Horse Sweat
We’ve all been there, right? A truck that is really not quite large enough to haul that heavily loaded bumper pull gets pushed around when the horses bicker over the hay bag. The old trailer doesn’t have any brakes or tail lights, but it’s only a few miles down the road so you haul it anyway. Your brakes lock, but it’s only on one wheel and you’re a good driver, so you think you can handle it.

Ignoring these limitations and hauling your horses regardless is dangerous and can cause injury and maybe even death to you, your horses, and other people.

The following is a check-off list you should keep handy:

  • Is the truck correctly sized to haul the loaded trailer? It is best to get an outside professional opinion on matching the truck and trailer.

  • Does the vehicle have a correctly installed frame hitch, rated to tow the loaded weight of the trailer?

  • Is the ball correctly sized for the coupler? A 2” ball is correctly sized for a 2” coupler. A trailer with a 2-5/8” coupler needs a 2-5/8” ball. Choosing the wrong match could easily result in your truck and trailer separating.

  • Does your truck have the right electrical outlet for the trailer wiring? All livestock trailers should have working brakes and lights which requires a proper electrical connection.

  • Does the trailer have a solid floor? Make sure you check under the floor mats, where moisture can become trapped and can cause wood to rot, steel to rust, and urine causes aluminum to corrode. Aluminum floors may also crack, which could be covered by floor mats.

  • Is the trailer appropriately sized for the animals you intend to haul?

What are the benefits and limitations of a tow behind versus a gooseneck trailer? Which is most appropriate for your use and hauling vehicle? Generally a gooseneck trailer is more stable and less likely to sway when hauled. A gooseneck has a smaller turn radius and will track inside the curve when following the truck through a turn. Tow behind trailers track behind the hauling vehicle even when on a turn. An anti-sway bar can be used to reduce sway when hauling a tow behind trailer.

Before you drive away check-off list:

  • The lights are all working

  • The ball is properly attached to the draw bar

  • The correctly sized ball for the particular trailer you are towing is on the draw bar

  • The draw bar is properly attached to the hitch receiver – check the pin

  • The trailer coupler is properly secured to the ball. Most tow behinds have a clasp that needs to be closed or a pin that needs to be placed. Failure to secure the coupler may result in the separation of the towing vehicle and trailer.

  • The safety chains are correctly attached. Tow chains should be crossed under the trailer tongue and secured to the towing vehicle using the hooks next to the ball.

  • The trailer floor is sound

  • The trailer is properly ventilated for the season and number of animals being hauled

  • Tire pressure of both the truck and trailer tires

  • Tire tread of the truck and trailer

  • Emergency brake box is charged and properly connected

In a joint effort to help educate the horse world, this tip is brought to you by the Kentucky Horse Council (www.kentuckyhorse.org)  and KAM Animal Services, home of KAM’s “Equine Learning Circle” FREE monthly webinars and weekly tips. The Kentucky Horse Council is a nonprofit organization dedicated, through education and leadership, to the protection and development of the Kentucky equine community. Go to www.kamanimalservices.com  to register for the next webinar or sign-up to be notified when a new tip comes out.