Are old horse trailers safe?

In today’s article, we will answer the following question: Are old horse trailers safe? We will guide you through a complete security check before hitting the road with your horse trailer. We will also give you some basic horse trailer maintenance tips. 

Are old horse trailers safe?

An older horse trailer can still be safe, depending on how well it was serviced and maintained during its lifespan. Generally, you can see 10-20 years old horse trailers that are perfectly functional and safe for transporting horses. 

Still, as an owner, it is important to make sure that everything works and that the horse trainer respects the regulations in force: 

  • Working light bulbs
  • Smooth walls, the interior must not present dangerous rough edges for the horse
  • Smooth chest bar
  • Flat, resistant and compliant floor, it has to withstand very heavy loads
  • Bridge in good condition
  • Proper floor covering
  • That the roof and tires are in good condition (no rust). 

We insist. It is very important that you be vigilant when using an older horse trailer!

Security check before towing a horse trailer

To guarantee optimum durability and increase the safety of the horse trailer, it is best to check a few important points before each trip:

  1. Check the tow vehicle.
  2. Check and replenish engine fluid and cleaner fluid levels. The trailer puts extra pressure on the radiator, brakes, and transmission, so make sure everything is in top working condition.
  3. Make sure the tow vehicle ball is the correct size for the trailer.
  4. Check the tire pressure in the tires of the towing vehicle and the trailer. Improper tire pressure is one of the most common reasons for trailer sway.
  5. Check the lug nuts on the wheels. Wheel nuts and bolts must be tightened before first road use on a new trailer and after each wheel removal. Check and rewind after the first 10 miles, 25 miles, and again at 50 miles.
  6. Check the inside of the trailer for bees and wasp nests.
  7. Check hitch, coupler, brake battery, and safety chains. Make sure all lights and brakes are working properly before loading horses.
  8. When horses are laden, make sure all doors are securely closed and horses are tethered.
  9. Drive down the driveway and before you drive down the highway, get out and recheck the hitch assembly. Take a look at the horses too, to make sure they’re ready to go.
  10. If you stop somewhere where the platform has been left unattended, check everything again. Someone may have been tampering with the trailer or the horses.

How to check electric brakes on an older horse trailer

Electric trailer brakes are designed to slow a trailer and generally cannot lock the trailer wheels when loaded. That is why it is important to discuss the importance of brakes, especially on an older horse trailer. The biggest failure of trailer brakes is caused by little or no stress to the brake magnets. Broken and rusted wires or cable connections are the common cause and can be found either on the towing vehicle or trailer.

How to check a horse trailer’s braking system:

  1. Hitch the trailer to the tow vehicle and connect the trailer plug.
  2. Apply the emergency brake on the tow vehicle and block the trailer wheels.
  3. Spread a mat or large piece of cardboard under the trailer.
  4. Go under the trailer with the 12 volt DC test light and a continuity tester. Use the 12-volt test light and test the two wires that go into each of the brake backing plates for power while someone applies the trailer brakes. There should be power in only one wire that goes into each plate. firing for the electromagnet to apply the brakes.
  5. Mark the wires that light the test light on each backing plate as the positive and the other wire as the ground.
  6. Test the ground wire going into each backing plate using a continuity test light by grounding the continuity light and probing the ground wire. If the ground wire is grounded properly the light will light. The continuity tester draws its power from an internal battery.
  7. Tighten the adjusting wheel on the trailer brake unit for the maximum setting. The braking unit is normally mounted under the dashboard of the towing vehicle.
  8. Drive the trailer to an area that has loose gravel.
  9. Apply the trailer brake lever, but not the trailer vehicle brakes during slow driving. If the brakes work properly the wheels should slide, or a drag should be felt. The trailer must be empty to perform this task.

Note: Make sure the test light is grounded when testing DC power and test the two wires going to the backing plate to find the hot one. If no power can be found in the cables going to the brake cooktops, check and repair any broken cables or bad connections under the trailer and retest.

Wear eye protection when working under and around vehicles or trailers. The towing vehicle and the trailer must be parked on a level surface before starting work. Many states in the US require a trailer to have a remote Emergency Braking System. This system has a trailer-mounted mini battery that activates the brakes if the trailer comes unhitched from the tow vehicle.

How to maintain a horse trailer?

Horses require a lot of maintenance, including needing to have a safe and comfortable horse trailer to be transported. It is important to keep your horse trailer as clean and safe as possible, which can be achieved by fixing any problems you are having right away and regularly checking the trailer for any new faults.

  1.  Check the boards. Lift the rubber mat on the floor of the horse trailer to check the floor underneath. The most dangerous thing for a horse is to stand on unsecured ground, especially if it is made from wood. 

Replace the wood planks if they show signs of wear or start to rot. Use a screwdriver and tap the wood to check for rot. The weak spots you find are rotten wood. Replace the boards with high-quality lumber. Check the sides of the trailer and underbody for potential problem areas.

  1. Check the tires for any wear. Check that they are at the correct pressure. Remember to check the spare tire as well. If no tires are replaced, make sure they are reassembled correctly and tight.
  1. Replace defective bulbs. Run new wiring through the trailer if there is a problem with the wiring.
  1. Open all doors and windows so that the trailer is well ventilated. Remove all bedding and rugs. Wash off the trailer assembly and then use a wire brush to scrub any dirt or debris with hot water and dish soap. Power wash the detergent away and then allow the trailer to dry. Replace the old litter.
  1. Lubricate the wheel bearings. This should be done at least once every two years. Park the horse trailer in a covered area if you are not going to use it very often. This will protect against the elements and reduce general wear and tear.

Final thoughts and tips

Safety is of the utmost importance when transporting horses. If you are the first rider, practice handling the combination before riding a horse. Backing up a trailer can seem intimidating, but it’s really not too difficult if you know the secret. 

Place your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and turn it in the direction you want the rear of the trailer to go. If you want the trailer to move roughly, turn the wheel before moving the vehicle. If you want to turn more gradually, turn the wheel while the vehicle is moving.

This works for a gooseneck or long tag trailer. A long tag with a long tongue is easier to roll back than a trailer with a short tongue. A tag-along trailer that has a dressing room is also easier to back up than a trailer without one.

If you are only transporting one horse, put it on the driver’s side. If you are transporting more than one horse, place the heaviest horse on the driver’s side. Roads are generally crowned higher in the middle, so placing the heaviest load on this site will help balance the trailer.

If you have a friend with you and you really shouldn’t transport him alone, familiarize him with your trailer. If for any reason, you become incapacitated, your friend may have to take over.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments on the content. 

FAQ on Are old horse trailers safe?

How to maintain a horse trailer?

It is important to maintain and keep your horse trailer as clean and safe as possible, which can be achieved by fixing any problems you are having right away and regularly checking the trailer for any new faults.

How to customize a horse trailer?

A trailer can be customized for trail riding or horse shows with a few different pieces. There is no limit to what can be done to make towing a better experience for both horse and rider, it all depends on your needs.

How often should a horse trailer be serviced?

Any horse trailer must be serviced at least twice a year, more often if you are using it almost on a daily basis or if you are transporting more than one horse. To guarantee optimum durability and increase the safety of the trailer, it is best to check a few important points and perform the right actions. When the trailer is immobilized for a long time, it is advisable to position it on chocks or jack stands in order to relieve the tires.


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