Does your horse travel in a trailer on a regular basis? If so, do you think about how safe the trailer is before you load your precious horse in it? It’s so important to do frequent safety checks on your trailer to make sure it is roadworthy. It’s no fun getting stuck on the side of the highway with a trailer full of horses and a flat tire!
It’s an excellent idea to take your trailer into a trailer repair shop at least once a year so an expert can give your trailer the once over. A trailer mechanic will be able to make repairs and maintenance that you can’t do by yourself, such as greasing and repacking the ball bearings in the wheel hubs. Repacking a wheel hub’s ball bearings should be done yearly or every 3000 miles.
We’ve come up with a few easy safety checks that you can do on your trailer before you head out to the next horse show. If you spot some problems, it’s essential that you ask your parents or the trailer owner to fix these issues before you hit the road again.
1. Check floor under mats
Many horse trailers have wooden floors and horse urine can rot the floor boards. Rotting floor boards can crack and break and your horse could fall through the floor. This is why you must check under the mats every once in a while to look for rotting boards.
If your horse has urinated in the trailer, it’s a good idea to pull out the rubber mats and hose off the floor of the trailer and then let it dry completely before you put the mats back in.
Always clean the manure and dirty shavings out of your trailer out after you use it. Then it will be clean and fresh when you next load up your horse.
2. Check tires for pressure and wear and tear
Check trailer tires on a regular basis to make sure they are filled with air at the right pressure. Your mom or dad should probably do this. You can check the pressure at a gas station with an air pump or do it at home with a tire gauge.
3. Check tires for wear and tear
Look at the tires closely. Are they worn in places? Look at the tire grooves. They should be deep, not shallow. Trailer tires don’t usually have to be changed as much as car tires, but they do have to be changed.
When your trailer goes in for its yearly check, ask the mechanic to rotate the tires.
4. Check the hitch
Make sure all of the nuts and bolts on your hitch are tight. Ask a parent or a trailer mechanic to tighten any loose nuts.
5. Tire changing equipment
Make sure that you have a jack that works on the trailer. Roll-on plastic jacks are the safest because you don’t have to take the horse out of the trailer when changing a tire.
It’s a good idea to have a star or four-way wrench (ask mom or dad to buy one) because they give you good leverage when you’re trying to loosen the tire lug nuts.
6. Grease the hitch ball
Regularly grease the hitch ball with petroleum grease. This is a white grease you can buy at an auto parts store. The grease prevents the trailer coupler from scraping against the ball and causing friction.
7. Lubricate hinges and latches
Keep door and ramp hinges and latches operating smoothly by spraying them regularly with a lubricant such as WD-40.
8. Check the lights
Before you head out with your horse, make sure that the trailer’s lights work. Ask your mom or dad to turn on the truck’s lights and tap the brakes and use the turn signals. If a light isn’t flashing, you might have to replace a bulb.
Scoot under and around the trailer and look for rust. If you see a LOT of it, it’s probably time to have a mechanic look at your trailer. The mechanic may decide to clean off the rust and re-paint steel components of the trailer to make the trailer last longer. But some rust and corrosion may have to be repaired immediately for safety reasons.
10. Bees and wasps
If you haven’t used your trailer for a while, give it a thorough snoop for bees and wasps. These annoying pests will set up home in the nooks and crannies of your trailer and may pop out and sting your horse when he’s going on a trip. If you spot a hive, spray it with wasp or bee killer and then knock it off the wall or ceiling and sweep it away.