Do you need electric brakes to tow a horse float?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Do you need electric brakes to tow a horse float? We will explain what electric brakes are and their importance for everyone’s safety. 

Do you need electric brakes to tow a horse float?

In some states, you will need electric brakes to tow a horse float if the weight of the towed vehicle exceeds 3000 lbs. Please check the table below for more information. 

StateMax Towed Vehicle Weight OrStopping Distance w/o Brake
Alabama3000 lbs
Alaska5000 lbs
Arizona3000 lbs
Arkansas3000 lbs
California3000 lbs
Colorado3000 lbs
Connecticut3000 lbs
Delaware4000 lbs
Florida3000 lbs
Georgia3000 lbs
Hawaii3000 lbs
Idaho1500 lbs
Illinois3000 lbs
Indiana3000 lbs
Iowa3000 lbs
KansasAchieve specific stoppingdistance. 40 ft @ 20 mph
KentuckyAchieve specific stoppingdistance. 40 ft @ 20 mph
Louisiana3000 lbs
Maine3000 lbs
Maryland3000 lbs
Massachusetts10000 lbs
Michigan3000 lbs
Minnesota3000 lbs
Mississippi2000 lbs
Montana3000 lbs
Nebraska3000 lbs
Nevada3000 lbs
New Hampshire1500 lbs
New Jersey3000 lbs
New Mexico3000 lbs
New York3000 lbs
North Carolina4000 lbs
North Dakota3000 lbs
Ohio2000 lbs
Oklahoma3000 lbs
OregonAchieve specific stoppingdistance. 40 ft @ 20 mph
Pennsylvania3000 lbs
Rhode Island4000 lbs
South Carolina3000 lbs
South Dakota3000 lbs
Tennessee3000 lbs
Texas4500 lbs
UtahAchieve specific stoppingdistance. 40 ft @ 20 mph
Vermont3000 lbs
Virginia3000 lbs
Washington3000 lbs
West Virginia3000 lbs
Wisconsin3000 lbs
WyomingAchieve specific stoppingdistance. 40 ft @ 20 mph

Other questions you may be interested in

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Why are electric trailer brakes important?

Electric trailer brakes are an important part of the trailer’s makeup. Its function is to stop the rotation of the wheels and thus the movement of the trailer.

The braking plates are installed and screwed to the axle plate, thus remaining well secured. The plates have their side and for their identification, they must be placed with the magnet facing downwards and observe which side the arm is on, indicating this, the side of the plate, either right or left, for its correct installation on the shaft.

It works with electric current supplied from the battery, through a braking control, indicating with it the intensity of said action. The magnet receives the voltage sent by the brake control, causing its magnetization and causing the brake pads to open, exerting pressure on the drums, thus stopping the rotation of the tires.

The plate is the kit that contains the shoes, springs, adjuster and magneto.

How to check electric brakes on a 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 tow with a heavy vehicle. The towing vehicle supplies the power to operate the trailer’s electric brakes. 

When voltage is sent to the trailer brakes, an electromagnet mechanism in the drum applies the brake. 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 or trailer vehicle.

  1. Hitch the trailer to the tow vehicle and connect the trailer plug. Apply the emergency brake on the tow vehicle and lock the trailer wheels Spread a mat or large piece of cardboard under the trailer.
  1. 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.
  1. Mark the wires that light the test light on each backing plate as the positive and the other wire as the ground.
  1. 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 properly grounded the light will light. The continuity tester draws its power from an internal battery.
  1. Adjust 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. Drive the trailer to an area that has loose gravel.
  1. Apply the trailer brake lever, but not the trailer vehicle brakes during slow driving. If the brakes are working properly the wheels should slide, or a drag should be felt. The trailer must be empty to perform this task.

Tips and Warnings:

  • 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.
  • Glue bare wires to avoid a short circuit.
  • Wear eye protection when working under and around vehicles or trailers.
  • The towing and towing vehicle must be parked on a level surface before starting work.
  • Many states 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 becomes unhitched from the tow vehicle.

How to troubleshoot electric brakes on a horse trailer

Troubleshooting the working brake light on your horse trailer can seem like a daunting task to someone who is new to working with electrical circuits. Fortunately, diagnosing the problem can be accomplished with just a few simple tools. 

Do not attempt to tow the trailer with working brake light, as this increases the safety risks to yourself, other drivers, and your horses. Towing a trailer with a working brake light is also illegal in most areas.

  1. Check the electrical connection between the horse trailer and the vehicle. Make sure it is connected properly and not damaged. Use a 12-volt test light to test if power is reaching the trailer connection.
  1. Open the vehicle’s fuse box. Use the diagram in the fuse box to locate the fuses related to the trailer lights. Replace the fuse if necessary. Use a screwdriver to remove the lens from the light not working properly. Check if the bulb is burned out or broken. Replace with a new lamp, if necessary.
  1. Use a 12-volt test light to probe the terminals in the bulb socket. Connect the ground clip of the test light to the frame of the trailer. Use the probe to test the connections. If the light comes on, there is the power to reach the socket of the bulb. If the light does not come on, there may be a short between the bulb socket and the vehicle connector.
  1. Replace the lens cover with a screwdriver. Make sure the lens is aligned properly and tight. Be careful not to tighten the screws too hard as they may cause damage to the lens.

The bottom line

Braked trailers are attracting more and more motorists because of the convenience they offer. Not to mention the additional volume they offer to transfer large materials. Trailers with or without brakes, depending on the conditions of use and the needs of the driver. Also, many companies market these trailers, in equally different formats.

No matter the type of trailer or caravan you are towing, make sure you don’t overload it. Respect the towing capacity of your car and be safe on the road!

Please let us know if you have any tips, comments or questions about braked and unbraked trailers. 

FAQ on Do you need electric brakes to tow a horse float?

Do you have to have electric brakes to tow a caravan?

If the caravan weighs more than 750 kg, you are required by law to have electric brakes. The goal is to reduce the braking distance to ensure better passenger safety. But it also makes it possible to extend the life of the brakes of the towing vehicle and the contents of the trailer.

Can I tow a trailer with electric brakes without a brake controller?

No, you cannot tow a trailer with electric brakes without a brake controller, as it would be useless. Electric brakes need a brake controller to work!

How much weight can you tow without trailer brakes?

You can tow up to 750 kg weight without trailer brakes, or even more as long as you are not driving more than 48 kph or 30 mph!

How much does it cost to install electric brakes?

The average cost to install electric brakes is $500. 


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