Horse Trailer Annual Maintenance & Safety Stock Up
If you are planning on traveling with your horses this year and own your own trailer, now is a great time to plan your annual trailer cleaning and maintenance. It is also a great time to restock your road side hazard kit and trailer first aid kit. Check out this handy guide to ensure that you have all you need on the road for stress-free and safe travels.
The importance of annual maintenance.
An annual thorough cleaning of your horse trailer both inside and out, is an important part of ensuring years of safe service. This annual routine will also help you to identify any components that are wearing out or missing. Getting your horse trailer into a reputable repair shop at least once annually is necessary to keep your horse trailer in tip top shape. Knowing that your tires, brakes, floor and lights are all in proper working condition can help assure safety on the road and give you peace of mind. For some handy men and women much of this task can be DIY. However, when it comes to my horse’s safety I like to leave my annual maintenance to the pros. For the best results be sure to remove any bedding, hay and personal belongings prior to dropping off your trailer for its annual checkup.
Finding a reputable trailer repair shop.
Since so many horse owners are also owners of their own truck and trailer, inquiring on social media is a great way to start your search for a reputable and fair local trailer repair facility. Another great resource for finding a trailer repair shop is by searching online and even checking your local yellow pages. Once you get a few names, be sure to check out their ratings online (keyword “company name reviews”) to ensure that other people have had positive experiences with the company prior to calling for more info. Once you have narrowed down your search give the trailer repair shop a call and inquire about the cost and availability of annual maintenance for your horse trailer. Be sure to have the year, make and model on hand. They may also inquire as to how long your trailer is and/or how many axles you have.
What should be checked?
Annual trailer maintenance typically consists of re-packing the wheel bearings. Inspection and adjustment of the horse trailer braking system. Charging or replacement of the emergency trailer brake control battery and components. Inspection of the coupler, safety chains and hooks. Checking the soundness of the trailer flooring which may require pulling back floor coverings. You may also request a visual inspection of the supporting structures from underneath of the trailer to look for any concerns caused by the environment or stress to the trailer materials. All internal and external marker lights, turn signals, brake lights, loading lights and interior lights should also be checked to ensure that they are functioning as intended. Be sure to mention any other issues that you are having trouble with so that they can be addressed at the same time. This is also a good time to request improvements or enhancements to your trailer which may include re-sealing the roof and/or windows, replacing any broken latches, adding additional tie rings or door catches.
What about the cost?
The cost of your annual maintenance will vary greatly by region, provider and the amount of repair work that will be needed. Despite annual maintenance, wearables such as tires and brakes can and will need regular replacement due to use, age and environment. I did not realize until my own annual appointment this year that I was in need of new tires. They had plenty of tread however when the repair shop called me with my repair quote they had brought to my attention the presence of cracks in the rubber due to age and dry rot.
First Aid and Roadside Emergencies – being prepared for the unexpected. – Ensuring that your trailer has both the immediate needs for your next trip as well as supplies in case of emergency helps to ease the stress of travel. Something as simple as a broken halter, minor laceration or a flat tire can put an abrupt halt to your travel plans. With the proper tools and supplies on board you can be back on the road on on down the trail in without undue stress.
Road side trailer emergency kit - Despite having a well maintained trailer accidents and mechanical failures can and will happen. Being prepared can elleviate some of the stress and anxiety of an unexpected event. Though this is certainly not a comprehensive list in my experience each of the below items should be on board. With the exception of a spare tire the contents of this kit can be stored in a trash can with tight fitting lid or check out the Sportote tack trunk with padded seat for a great space saving solution.
TIP: Pre-package clean towels and bandages into a water-tight storage bag to ensure they remain clean and free from mildew.
Travel First Aid Kit for Horses and Humans too - Having a basic first aid kit in the horse trailer with contents to address basic needs for both the horse and human is a wise choice. You do not want to be stuck going from trailer to trailer searching out supplies should he sustain a minor injury to himself either on the trailer or while performing.
What should a travel first aid kit contain? Though this kit is in no way fully inclusive I think it is a great start and contains the items that are most likely to be helpful in the event of an equine or human mishap.
TIP: If you will be staying overnight away from the barn you may want to check with your veterinarian for any additional supplies such as Banamine and/or Bute Paste. Having a tube of probiotic paste and a couple tubes of electrolytes are always handy. Just do not leave these products in your trailer as they should not be exposed to extreme temps and be mindful of expiration dates.
TIP: Pre-package any bulk or water permeable items such as 4×4 Gauzepads and latex gloves into a few clean zippered baggies.
This will minimize bulk in your travel first aid kit and increase their life expectancy. Exposure to temperature extremes tends to render these items unusable if they are not carefully packaged.
TIP: Add some basic human care items such as aspirin, ibuprofen, pepto tabs, anti-histamine tabs, adhesive bandages (band-aids®)
of various sizes and triple-a cream.
If you have any special medical needs having extra supplies in your kit can help in the event that you forget or misplace an item while away from home. Travel or sample sizes work best for these basics since they are well sealed from the elements and will be labeled with the expiration date. Items such as 4×4 gauze pads, and cohesive bandages can be helpful for both species.