Towing Horse Trailers – here are some tips and advice if you are new to towing horses in trailers
It is not a definitive list by any means and could be much more comprehensive but I feel it gives the novice an insight and some useful pointers to consider and follow.
Does my licence allow me to tow?
Ensure that your driver’s licence allows you to tow.
Basically, if you passed your driving test before 1st January 1997 you should find that your licence categories will allow you to drive a motor vehicle and tow a trailer up to a combined weight of 8.25 tonnes.
If you passed your test after 1st January 1997 you are only allowed to tow a trailer with a maximum gross weight up to 750kg. If this is the case, you will be required to undertake a further test to provide you with the grouping that will allow you to tow a horse trailer.
Full information can be found on www.dvla.gov.uk.
Check your tow vehicle’s insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for third party liability/public liability for the towing of trailers.
This is a legal requirement.
Insurance guarding against the theft or damage to the trailer is a separate issue and can be provided by many reputable equine insurers.
Your tow vehicle
Ensure that it is roadworthy and importantly that the tow bar and ball are in good condition and that all the electrics function.
Check the tow vehicle’s towing capacity. You will find this in the handbook provided with your vehicle. The basic principle is that you must not attempt to tow anything whereby the maximum gross weight of the trailer and its load may exceed 85% of the tow vehicle’s weight. It is always better to be cautious, so the greater the leeway the better.
Remember that if you exceed the recommended towing weight for your vehicle you could be liable to prosecution if caught doing so.
There are many on-line sites whereby you can simply type in your make, model year of your tow vehicle and it will advise you of the vehicles legal towing capacity.
If you have no towing experience
If you have no previous towing experience, practise driving your tow vehicle in various weather conditions, and on different road surfaces without having a trailer attached. This will help you become familiar with the capabilities of your tow vehicle prior to introducing the trailer.
It is also useful to practice driving your tow vehicle off road as well and become familiar with the different vehicle handling characteristics which are evident when driving off road. This is particularly important if you own a 4 x 4 vehicle as often engaging the 4 x 4 gearbox will be a very different experience when driving. We advise doing this as many times when you attend shows and events with your trailer these are held in paddocks and fields which often become wet and soft and with your trailer hitched on and horses loaded this can prove sometimes to be a very testing experience especially if gradients and hills are involved.
Practise both on road and off road before introducing a horse to your trailer.
You may also consider obtaining one or two basic sessions with an approved instructor or other tutor.
Towing Horse Trailers can be just as easy as driving without a trailer on tow, it can be a pleasurable experience
There are products which will also assist you with towing or make the towing experience safer – one example which we sell is the extended vision towing mirror. This is a larger than normal mirror which is attached to your drivers mirror of your towing vehicle allowing your field of vision to extend down the side of your trailer. Often because your trailer is wider than your tow vehicle you cannot see clearly down the side of your horse trailer to the rear and these mirrors not only assist you but also make towing much safer. Sometimes people buy a pair of these mirrors and fit one to the passenger side of their vehicle as well. They are easily fitted and removed to your tow vehicle and only takes a couple of minutes to add or remove before setting off on your journey.
These mirrors can be located on our website http://horsetrailerpartsdirect.co.uk/tow-vehicle-accessories/towing-mirrors/large-dual-lens-horse-trailer-caravan-towing-mirror
This blog article is written by Mark Unsworth who is a director of Horse Trailer Parts Direct and who has a wealth of experience in the Transportation of horses using horse trailers.
Visit www.horsetrailerpartsdirect.co.uk and see our range of Horse Trailer Parts and Spares