Keep your horse happy
It may seem simple to just put your horse in the trailer and drive off to shows, but the way you load your horse and drive your trailer can have a significant effect on the horse’s health and happiness. Here’s a few things to consider:
Before every journey you should perform basic safety checks including:
- Check that the indicators and lights are working on your towing vehicle and trailer.
- Make sure the registration number on the back of the trailer is the same as the vehicle towing it.
- Check tyre pressures are correct and the condition is good – also check you have a spare.
- Test that the floor is solid.
- Pack everything you need into trailer and vehicle, including emergency first aid kit. Make sure that the combined weight of your horse and trailer does not exceed the safe towing limit for your vehicle - if in doubt, check with your vehicle and/or trailer manufacturer.
To ensure your horse or pony is happy to travel in future, each journey must be carefully thought out, starting with loading:
- If you know you may have difficulty leave plenty of time – rushing only increases stress.
- Practice before hand to make sure your horse is happy to load, especially if it is a trailer new to them.
- Make sure everything is ready so that once loaded you can set off straight away.
- Keep calm, walk the horse up to the ramp and stay next to the shoulder – do not try to pull the horse in from in front.
- If travelling only one horse, load onto the right hand side for better balance.
- Load a confident horse first to persuade a less confident horse to load.
Before setting off check these essentials:
- Make sure the trailer brake is off, the jockey wheel is in the raised position and the safety chain is securely attached.
A smooth drive is important to help the horse balance and to arrive calm and ready to perform.
- Move off slowly and allow plenty of time for your journey.
- Don't cut corners and make sure you allow room for your vehicle to turn.
- Drive smoothly and thoughtfully, avoiding sudden braking and jerky manoeuvres.
- Use your mirrors and be aware of what is happening up ahead of you at all times.
- Control your speed and observe the speed limits for your vehicle.
- Remember - if you passed your driving test after January 1997, you now need to pass a separate test to a tow a trailer weighing over 750kg.