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by Susan Konkle, Article donated by the mane points horse resource center.

Take the time to do a quick check of your trailer and tow vehicle every time you hit the road with your horse. You may not be quite "gone in 60 seconds," but it won't take much longer and could save you a lot of aggravation--and quite possibly a whole lot more.

  • Check the tires. Proper inflation not only prolongs the normal life of the tires, but it reduces the risk of tire failure. Make sure there are no fine lines--the sign of dry rot--forming in the walls.

    Trailer tires are likely to dry rot long before the tread is worn, so even if you have plenty of tread left, your tires could fail.

    Be sure to check your spare trailer tire; you never know when you may need it.
  • Check the lights. This is most easily done at dusk or dawn when the lights on your trailer are easy to see. Make sure all the running

    lights are on, both turn signals are in working order and the brake lights work.

    To check the brake lights without assistance, wedge a small length of board against the brake pedal to keep it depressed while you look.

  • Check the electric brakes on the trailer by letting your vehicle roll slowly forward while depressing the lever on the electric brake box.

    Keep your foot off both the accelerator and brake pedals in the tow vehicle. You should feel a slight tug as the trailer tries to stop the truck.

  • Check the hitch. Make sure it's well-seated on the ball and locked into place, that the chains are hooked securely to the tow vehicle, and the breakaway switch is attached.

    The hitch should be checked every time you leave your rig unattended, even for just a few minutes while you run inside to pay for gas.

  • Before you load, make sure the windows and vents are adjusted to give your horse the most comfortable airflow for the weather conditions.

    If it's extremely cold, bed the floor with an absorbent material such as shavings. Urine that doesn't run off may form a thin film of ice that will turn bare rubber mats into something resembling a skating rink.

    Check to make sure you haven't left anything else in the trailer that your horse can step on, or that will roll against his legs during transport.

  • Finally, after your horse is loaded, don't forget to raise the ramp if your trailer has one, and make sure all the latches on the ramp and doors are securely fastened.

    If your trailer has a tack room, check that door, too; you don't want to leave tack all over the highway.
  • Susan Konkle is a freelance writer who lives near Rockville, Va.

    Read the next horse transportation article on Horse Transport for Alaska - Louisiana.
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