Hitching on to your Horse Trailer – Advice and Tips

Hitching on to your Horse Trailer

Hitching on to your horse trailer – Mark Unsworth provides some great advice and tips

 

Hitching on

 

Hitching up can take a bit of practice.

The key factor is never rush and keep calm! Well at least try!

Ensure that the trailer’s handbrake is on and that the jockey wheel is wound so that the trailer is at the right height, in readiness for engagement with the vehicle’s tow ball. Ideally you should have the tow hitch wound so that it is about two inches (5 cm) above the height of the vehicle’s tow ball.

 

Ensure that there are no obstructions on the ground which you will drive over and importantly ensure that no one is between you and the horse trailer especially children!

 

Try and line the vehicle up so that you will be reversing in a straight line, this is much easier than starting off at an angle.

 

Reverse your vehicle slowly towards the trailer. You may find it easier to look through the rear window of your vehicle, rather than through your mirrors, to help you line-up the tow bar with the trailer. If you have someone to help see you back, encourage them to stand at the side of, and not behind, your vehicle while you are reversing. Some trailers are so light that you can actually move the trailer by hand to your tow vehicle, thus avoiding moving the tow vehicle at all. Having a Hitching Mirror fitted to your trailer will also help and the i4eye Hitching Mirror is a great accessory to fit.

 

Once your hitch is directly above your tow ball, you can then wind the jockey wheel ensuring that the hitch properly engages and secures onto the vehicle’s tow ball. Wind your jockey wheel up, ensuring that it is well clear of the road surface for towing. Ensure the jockey wheel handle which secures it is tight so that there is no chance of it dropping down onto the road surface whilst driving.

 

If your horse trailer has a locking hitch never lock it to the tow vehicle whilst you are towing. The locking hitch is for use when the vehicle is stationery only, or when the trailer is not hitched to your vehicle.

 

Breakaway cable and electrics

 

You can now connect the breakaway cable of the trailer to your vehicle’s tow bar eye and plug in the trailer’s electric socket into the car tow bar socket. Check your electrics on both your tow vehicle and horse trailer to ensure that all the lights are working correctly.

 

Un-hitching

 

Park your trailer on as flat a surface as possible and then apply the tow vehicle’s and the trailer’s handbrake. Place wheel chocks (if you have them) both in front and behind your trailer wheels.

 

Next, disconnect the electrical and breakaway cables. Wind the jockey wheel down and then release your hitch handle as you wind, allowing the trailer to become un-hitched. Then, lock your trailer so it’s secure.

 

To avoid the brake shoes sticking to the drums, you can leave your trailer parked with the handbrake off, but leave your wheel chocks in place to secure the trailer. Only leave the trailer with the handbrake off if it is in a safe place to do this and there is no danger to others by the trailer moving.

 

An item which can aid hitching on is our i4eye Horse Trailer Hitching Mirror. This is secured to the front of your horse trailer and will give you sight of your horse trailer hitch and tow vehicle tow ball so you know when you are reversing when you are in position to hitch on. To view and obtain further information follow our link to our web site     http://horsetrailerpartsdirect.co.uk/horse-trailer-accessories/hitching-mirrors/i4eye-horse-trailer-hitch-hitching-on-coupling-mirror

 

Tips on looking after your Horse Trailer Floor

Horse Trailer Floor Tips

Mark Unsworth from Horse Trailer Parts Direct answers a question from a reader who was worried about buying a second hand horse trailer and potential problems with the flooring

I would recommend that when you buy a second hand horse trailer, regardless of age, you get not just the floor checked but also the whole trailer by an authorised dealership or by a suitably qualified individual. The older the trailer the more thorough the inspection should be and this should highlight any safety issues or areas of concern.

 

Most modern horse trailers are now fitted with aluminium floors or thermoplastic/resin floors. Aluminium floors normally take the form of sheet or planked aluminium strips that run from the front to rear of the trailer. The chassis of the trailer is normally made from galvanised steel and supports these aluminium strips. Some older horse trailers have been manufactured with a steel chassis but will have a wooden planked floor. The normal life expectancy of such a floor, dependant on various factors, would be around 8 years before the floor will require some attention. Wood will rot so many owners then opt to have the wooden floor replaced by an aluminium one.

 

The most common causes of damage to your alloy floor are likely to be caused by your horse. This can occur if the horse becomes unsettled and either stamps or rears, or if your horse loses its balance whilst in transit and struggles excessively to regain it. The wearing of studs in the trailer is also a cause of damage, and it must be stressed that travelling the horse with studs in is extremely bad for both the horse and the trailer floor, with safety issues arising for both.

 

I would recommend that you have your aluminium floor checked annually when you have your trailer serviced. Your dealership will check the internal aspects of the floor to ensure that none of the floor has become damaged or dislodged. They will check on the inside that the alloy strips of the floor run true and are interlocked and that the securing bolt heads are tight. Most manufacturers secure the alloy planks with bolts towards the front and rear of the trailer floor. These can work loose, especially if the horse does stamp or move around heavily, which then leads to strips of the floor becoming dislodged. This can be dangerous as your horse is then at risk of putting a hoof through any dislodged strips.

 

The dealership will also check for any signs of corrosion within the floor. If this occurs there will normally be signs of this at the outer extremities of the floor or around the natural drain points. External checks will be a visual inspection of the underside of the trailer floor to ensure again that the sheeted aluminium runs true and that the bolts securing the floor in place are tight and have not started to work loose. They will undertake checks to see if the floor has become damaged from beneath. This can occur if a trailer has run over something on the road, which is then thrown up and has caused damage by hitting the underside of the floor, or driving the trailer over very uneven ground can also cause damage.

 

Some simple procedures will significantly enhance the condition and life of your trailer floor.

 

After each use:

 

  • Sweep out the trailer floor mat with a stiff brush and power wash or hose out
  • Clean the floor’s drain holes out with a screwdriver – most trailers have natural drain holes built into the lower body and floor at the front and rear of the trailer
  • Hose off the underside of the floor to remove road and field deposits especially during the winter months when salt is being used on the roads

 

Every 12 months:

 

Remove the trailers rubber mat completely

 

This is generally secured at the front and rear of the trailer and once the securing clasps have been removed two people can normally remove the rubber floor. Once removed power wash the both sides of the mat. Undertake a visual check of the mat and check for signs of wear or holes (always buy and use good quality matting as the mat helps spread the load carried and also absorbs impact. Don’t buy cheap mats as they are often made from re-cycled tyre shreds or crumb, which are moulded together with urethane and quickly disintegrate.) Power wash the trailer floor and drain holes and ensure the drain holes are clear. Remember the area beneath your mat can become a breeding ground for bacteria due to the build up of horse urine, feed, horse hair and mud which can then also cause corrosion. Use a anti-bacterial spray or wash an example can be seen on our site  http://horsetrailerpartsdirect.co.uk/rider-and-yard-accessories/horse-rider-and-yard

 

Summary:

 

The floor of your horse trailer is one of the most integral and important aspects of your trailer and although it cannot be seen you must not ignore it. A well maintained floor is a significant contributing factor in the safe transport of your horse and if ignored it could become your most significant financial drain as well! If your floor is maintained well it will ensure that the investment you have already made in your trailer will be protected. If you ignore it then be prepared to spend in the region of between £500 and £1000 to have it replaced.

 

 

 

 

Stop that jockey wheel sinking

Jockey Wheel Cup

Mark Unsworth from Horse Trailer Parts Direct tells readers about a brilliant new product just taken into stock

Manufactured from heavy duty rubber, the Jockey Wheel Cup is ideal for when parking your Horse Trailer on soft ground or loose gravel.

Especially handy if you park your horse trailer in a paddock where over the winter months it can become boggy, you reverse up to your trailer only to find the jockey wheel submerged in the mud.

The cup can also be used on hard surfaces and in the summer months will prevent the jockey wheel making an indent into your nice tarmac drive!

Placed underneath the horse trailer jockey wheel, the cup spreads the load over a wider area to prevent sinking, and also prevents sideways movements.

The jockey wheel cup is suitable for use with all solid-tyred jockey wheels and is ideal for Horse Trailers

 

  • Suitable for all solid-tyre jockey wheels fitted to horse trailers
  • Prevents jockey wheel sinking into soft ground or gravel
  • Stops the weight of Jockey Wheels making indent into tarmac surfaces as load is spread
  • Stops sideways movement of the jockey wheel
  • Heavy duty rubber
  • Ideal for horse trailer makes Ifor Williams, Equitrek, Bateson, Fautras, in fact most makes and models

This new product is now in stock and available for just £6.75

For more information and photographs on the Jockey Wheel Cup

Follow this link to view the jockey wheel cup http://horsetrailerpartsdirect.co.uk/horse-trailer-accessories/trailer-care-and-pumps/horse-trailer-jockey-wheel-cup-receiver

Tips on Preventing Horse Trailer Theft

Hitch lock fitted to an Ifor Williams 511 Horse Trailer

The majority of Horse Trailers that are stolen in the UK tend to be stolen by:

A Casual Thief

This is someone who takes advantage of an opportunity that arises, who has not pre-planned the theft of your trailer, but who has usually come across a trailer that has no security measures deployed.

The opportunity is present, they have a tow vehicle and they do not need to circumvent any security measures as none are in place.

In other words they see your trailer, like it, hitch it on and drive away with it.

It can be as easy as this or you can make it harder for this type of thief.

 

Tips to guard against theft

Park your horse trailer up within a secure gated compound or yard where it cannot be seen by passing traffic.

Fit a Hitch Lock and Wheel Clamp.

If you keep the trailer at your yard, tell the other liveries and the yard owner that no one else has authority to remove the trailer.

Do not leave valuables inside your trailer no matter how tempting the storage solution is

If you are at a show and someone asks you about your trailer do not tell them where you keep it.

If you take your trailer to a show lock it to the tow vehicle using the locking coupling head and fix your wheel clamp to one of the trailer wheels. Believe it or not horse trailers are often stolen at shows!

If you keep the trailer at home on your drive, consider using two wheel clamps or attach a heavy duty chain through the trailer towing arms and secure this to a object that cannot be moved.

Park your vehicle across the trailer or in front of it, nose to nose preventing another vehicle from accessing the hitch and secure your own vehicle as well.

Fit a hitch cover – a potential thief will not know if you have a good quality hitch lock fitted underneath it or a cheap lock. They will first have to remove the cover which some will be reluctant to do.

What else can assist?

Fit a data tag transponder to your trailer – this is concealed within the shell of the trailer body and can be located and identified by a dealer with reading equipment

Fit a Tracker to your trailer – these have come down dramatically in price and can be linked and operated from your mobile phone

Fit a Wheel Clamp and Hitch Lock – these can vary from £30 up to £160 dependant upon the brand you purchase – we sell a Stronghold avonride hitch lock which will fit Ifor Williams and Equitrek trailers and these cost just under £70. The Avonride Hitch Lock we sell also allows you to secure your trailer to your tow vehicle when unattended which is useful at shows and on long journeys especially if you stop at service stations etc view these products at http://horsetrailerpartsdirect.co.uk/horse-trailer-accessories/security/hitch-locks

If you own an Ifor Williams or Equitrek Horse Trailer manufactured since 1999 then you will have the benefit of the key operated hitch lock – these are good but you can increase the security of this for as little as under £8 by fitting a Hitch Security Ball. This fits into the mouth of the hitch and you lock it in using your key and this will prevent a thief part hitching your trailer and stealing it. Without the Ball your trailer even with the hitch locked could still be towed away with little effort! See this product also at http://horsetrailerpartsdirect.co.uk/horse-trailer-accessories/security/hitch-locks

You may also wish to consider making your trailer a little more personalised by fitting for example logo’s or Decals. If your trailer is unique to you then it is easily identifiable on the road and a thief is less likely to take your trailer. Many of these will not detract from the value of your trailer and are vinyl and is a simple DIY job to fit them. Some ideas of these vinyl stickers can be seen on our site http://horsetrailerpartsdirect.co.uk/horse-trailer-accessories/reflectors-and-stickers

Post Coding – many owners do this and have their post code in vinyl letters fixed to the roof of their trailer. This is a good idea but remember these will only be seen from the air and you have to know what area to look for your trailer in before these become beneficial.

Smart Water – This is method whereby using a clever pen applying a invisible paint you can mark your trailer both inside and outside and if your trailer is stolen and then located the paint has a unique special code within it which will identify it as being yours. But again, you have to locate the trailer first.

Permanent Marker – a cheap effective method is to mark the underside of your trailer using a permanent marker pen with your house number and post code. You can also mark the floor of the trailer beneath your mats. Again though this is only of use if your trailer is found after being stolen.

Serial Number – make sure you keep a note of your horse trailer serial number as you will need this if it is stolen or if you try to insure it

Insurance

To give you peace of mind consider insuring your horse trailer, the newer your trailer is the greater consideration you should give this option. There are many companies offering horse trailer insurance and my advice is shop around and read the small print before buying a policy. Check what it covers and who it covers and where, the cheapest policy may not be the best option. Also check for security stipulations on the policy, many will insist on certain types of hitch locks or wheel clamps being fitted. If you have any questions on locks or clamps we are always happy to give advice to you and what may be right for your trailer and circumstances.

Mark Unsworth a director from Horse Trailer Parts Direct has written this article on Horse Trailer Security and will be contributing more information on security in the coming weeks.

Give your horse a smoother journey in your horse trailer

Horse Trailer 2

 

Mark Unsworth from Horse Trailer Parts Direct gives some useful advice on giving your horse a smooth journey whilst travelling him in your trailer.

 

Ideally, you should load your horse from the safety of your yard or an enclosed area. If however you have to load your horse on the road, make sure that you, your horse, and other road users are safe before you load your horse. Be aware of what is going on around you and always wear a high visibility vest. Never attempt to load your horse into your trailer unless your trailer is hitched onto your tow vehicle.

If you are travelling a single horse, make sure he is positioned on the off-side of a double horse trailer. If you are transporting two horses load, travel the heaviest horse on the off-side of the trailer. This is to compensate for the camber of UK roads.

Before leaving your yard or the place where you have loaded your horse into your trailer, slowly drive a few metres and gently apply your brakes. This is to test both your tow vehicle’s brakes and your horse trailer brakes to ensure that they are working correctly.

Drive slowly when you set off, to allow your horse to adjust to the motion of the trailer, and to obtain a secure footing position inside the trailer.

Driving tips

  • Avoid sudden or erratic changes in direction or speed.
  • Take corners slowly and as wide as possible.
  • Be aware of other road users, and try to anticipate their actions.
  • Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
  • Anticipate the road ahead and be aware of suitable passing points if travelling on a country lane in case you meet another vehicle.
  • Give parked vehicles a wide berth and be aware of roadside foliage such as trees and bushes. Remember your trailer is likely to be wider and taller than your tow vehicle, so giving objects a wide berth will avoid      collisions or scrapes.
  • Get into your correct lane early when approaching roundabouts. Don’t take any chances – whilst towing your horse trailer, your vehicle will not accelerate as quickly as normal on roundabouts.
  • If travelling on a motorway, you are not allowed into the extreme right, or fast lane.
  • If your trailer starts to weave on the road this could be because you are travelling too fast. Avoid sudden braking, and use controlled acceleration to overcome the weaving before slowing to a safer speed.
  • Always react to how your horse is behaving in your trailer. If your horse is becoming stressed to the extent of erratic or violent behaviour within the trailer, find a safe and suitable place to stop before proceeding further. Exercise extreme caution when entering your trailer under these circumstances.
  • Always stick within the speed limits for vehicles towing trailers.
  • Use your indicators to advise other road users of your intentions

 

Urban: 30 mph 

Single carriageway: 50 mph 

Dual carriageway and motorways: 60 mph

 

 

Reversing

Reversing should not be rushed. Remember not to over steer as it is always easier to add to the steering wheel turns, than to recover over steering.

The main thing to remember when reversing is that whichever way you turn the steering wheel will send your trailer in the opposite direction. So, if you steer the wheel left, your trailer will go right. To straighten the trailer up, simply turn the wheel back the other way. Often if you get the angle wrong, you are better to go forwards again rather than trying to correct it.

Practise reversing your trailer whilst it is empty. Remember to not only watch your trailer as you are reversing, but also the front of your tow vehicle as this changes direction, too.

 

Unloading your horse and un-hitching 

Park your trailer on as flat a surface as possible and then apply the tow vehicle’s and the trailer’s handbrake.

Place wheel chocks if you have them both in front and behind your trailer wheels.

If the edges of your unloading ramp do not sit flush to the ground then consider chocking them with wood blocks. If you don’t do this this can unsettle your horse as he stands on the ramp and it can also result in a twisted ramp door!

Drop your trailer’s ramp/s, ensuring that your unloading spot is safe for you, your horse and other road users. If unloading on or adjacent to a road ensure your wear a high viz jacket.  Then un-load your horse.

Wheel Chocks as referred to above can be viewed and purchased from our site by following the link  http://horsetrailerpartsdirect.co.uk/horse-trailer-accessories/trailer-care-and-pumps/horse-trailer-heavy-duty-wheel-chocks

 

New to Towing Horse Trailers? Some useful tips and advice for the beginner

Towing a horse trailer for the first time can present some challenges which can easily be overcome by the novice

Here are a few key things I feel you should consider and be aware of prior to towing a horse trailer for the first time.

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.

Insurance 

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.

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

Hitching on Mirror  http://horsetrailerpartsdirect.co.uk/horse-trailer-accessories/hitching-mirrors/horse-trailer-hitch-hitching-on-coupling-mirror

Your trailer  

Before you load your horse into your trailer there are whole host of things you should know and check and I will cover this is one of my future blogs later this year.

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.

 

Towing a horse trailer for the first time can present some challenges which can easily be overcome by the novice

 

 
Horse Trailer Parts Direct

Horse Trailer Parts Direct provide a comprehensive range of horse trailer parts online in the UK. Our horse trailer spares are all oraganised in to categories to help you find exactly what you want. Simply move your mouse cursor over the category links at the top of this page to see a drop down menu of our categories. We provide parts for Ifor Williams horse trailers in addition to other popular brands and setups. So, if you're looking for parts for trailers or any kind of trailer accessories please take a look at our website to find what you need. If you any questions please call us on 01305 269393 and we'd be delighted to help you.

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