What should be in a horse trailer?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: What should be in a horse trailer? We will review the conditions that the law imposes for the safe transportation of horses. We will also give you a few essential tips for making horse trailer towing much easier. 

What should be in a horse trailer?

The following items should always be in a horse trailer for both your safety and that of the animal(s): 

  • Fresh hay and enough water for your horse(s).
  • Flashlights with spare batteries.
  • Spare bulbs and fuses.
  • Electrical tape.
  • Spare tire(s).
  • Tire chains.
  • Trailer jack and trailer chocks.
  • Emergency triangles (at least three).
  • Lubricant.
  • Broom, shovel, bucket and sponges for cleaning the trailer floor.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • A blanket for your horse. 

Note: This list is non-exhaustive. These are just some of the most important things to have in a horse trailer. Below we discuss other obligations and minimum transport conditions of horses. 

What are the minimum transport conditions of horses?

Meeting the handling and restraint requirements for the respect of the well-being of your horse during transport requires having a vehicle designed for this use and well maintained, all with the aim of avoiding the suffering of horses and ensuring their safety.

  1. The ground surface and the height of the horse or livestock trailer must be adapted to the size of the equines to be transported and benefit from individual stalls.
  1. You must have sufficient food and water and allow time for rest in places suitable for the well-being of your horse.
  1. Also in the event of repair by a professional or in the event of the purchase of a horse trailer or livestock trailer, make sure that the minimum conditions for transporting your horse are met, regardless of the distance or duration of the transport.
  1. The horse trailer or livestock trailer must have (especially in the event of a long trip):
  • easy access to horses and a source of light for inspecting and/or caring for them.
  • individual stalls adapted to the size of the equines to separate them except for the mares.
  • a non-slip floor that reduces urine and faeces leakage, as well as suitable bedding for the comfort of the horses,
  • appropriate loading and unloading equipment (side protection when the slope is greater than 10 °).
  • a sign indicating the “transport of live animals” or “attention horses”
  • access to the horses to bring them water and food (side door).
  • a watering system and have water tanks
  • sufficient ventilation appropriate to the size and space of the equines.
  • a well-insulated light-coloured roof (especially for the south of France where the summer heat can be very high)
  • a ventilation system making it possible to maintain a temperature of 5 to 30 ° C inside (on or off) and a tolerance of +/- 5 ° C with respect to the outside temperature and autonomy of 4 hours.
  • a data logging temperature control system and a driver alert system.
  • easy and easy cleaning possibility for regular disinfection.

Note:  Horses that have not been broken in (which cannot be tethered) must not make long journeys.

Transport documents that must be in a horse trailer

The following transport documents must be kept on board:

  1. The accompanying document for each horse for all transport (regardless of the number of km, whether as part of economic activity or not).
  1. The transport log from a trip> 40 miles contains the following information:
  • The place, date and time of loading and delivery of the animals
  • The name or company name and address of the operation of the departure and arrival sites
  • The origin of animals and their owner
  • The species and number of animals transported
  • The date and place of disinfection
  • The expected duration of the planned trip
  • Vehicle serial number
  • Details of accompanying documents for animals

Contingency plans in the event of an emergency when transporting horses

For each critical situation identified, it is necessary to indicate the operational procedures to deal with it. These must be foreseen and described. 

They may be accompanied by documents (instructions and/or emergency sheets), information specific to each trip (contact details of people, services or carriers who can be contacted in such a situation, at such or such place of each specific itinerary. planned). They are updated for each new route and made available to the driver.

To be able to write these emergency plans, you must take into consideration:

  • The different phases of transport (the means to remedy the problems are not necessarily the same depending on where they occur)
  • The species or categories of animals transported
  • The number of animals transported per load
  • Mode of transport
  • The nature of the means and equipment of transport used
  • The transport conditions implemented
  • The frequency of transport carried out by the establishment (or operation)
  • The transport radius (local, regional, national, community, international, etc.)
  • The distances travelled
  • The existence of transfer points, tunnels, passes, embarkation ports on the routes

Examples of situations (non-exhaustive list):

  • Vehicle breakdowns, accidents of any kind, delays or unforeseeable detours
  • Relay persons unavailable (example: staff at transit points, keepers at destination locations)
  • Predictable or unpredictable adverse weather conditions (example: sudden unannounced changes in weather)
  • Closure of tunnels or passes
  • Delayed departure of a ship, defective containers, other defective equipment related to animals (watering and ventilation systems, container closure or fixing devices)
  • Suffering animals
  • Need for supplies during transport (water, food, litter)
  • Out of stock at the place initially planned for supplies (in particular for very long journeys)

Obligations related to the vehicle that is towing a horse trailer

There must be an inscription on the trailer or truck indicating the transport of live animals, for example, “beware horses”. It is also important that the authorized total weight, GVWR, indicated on the vehicle registration document is respected by the horses and the equipment present.

Any trailer with a GVWR of 1100 lbs or more, not counting the towing vehicle, must have specific insurance, the vehicle registration document must contain the words “livestock” and it must be registered. In addition, the trailer must be equipped with a braking system.

Any trailer with a GVWR of 1100 lbs or less must have a plate reproducing the registration of the vehicle towing it.

The right car for towing a horse trailer

In any case, you have to check if the vehicle has permission to pull the trailer. The towing capacity is indicated in the respective vehicle registration document. If you are not sure, it is advisable to ask the manufacturer or the sales agency of your choice. 

A four-wheel-drive car is also an advantage, as you sometimes have to drive over meadows or other uneven surfaces. It is just common sense to understand that a vehicle towing a trailer must be strong enough to safely move the extra weight.

And with regard to safety, it is an essential requirement that the trailer has the rear signs that allow, both day and night, to give notice to other vehicles. In addition, the tire pressure must be checked and it must be known that the safety distance to the brake must be increased.

The horse should not be forgotten and, if long journeys are made, it would be advisable to keep fresh hay and clean water within reach of the animal. Likewise, it is recommended to be careful when going up and down hills and, above all, to drive thinking that you are carrying a fragile and delicate load.

These tips, among others, provided by horses are essential so that the trip with the horse trailer does not end up being a bitter experience.


Hauling a horse trailer is a matter of practice. The more often a trailer is driven, the more skilled the driver will be. First of all, you have to get used to the behaviour of the vehicle when cornering. 

In addition, you always have to drive gently and cautiously, and above all, not go too fast. If the speed is too high, the trailer will start to wobble and the horse will surely get scared, affecting his physical and emotional condition.

We wish you a safe journey and if you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on What should be in a horse trailer?

How many horses can fit in a trailer?

Up to six horses can fit in a trailer, depending on the size and model of the trailer. When transporting more than one horse, the minimum height inside the compartments must exceed the height at the withers of the tallest animal by at least 30 inches (almost 75 cm).

How many hours can a horse travel in the trailer?

A horse can travel up to 8 hours in the trailer. The horse must always have a net with hay (better soaked) so that he can eat at all times. It is advisable to water the animal and supply electrolytes in short periods of time. 

What license is needed to drive a horse trailer?

To transport horses in a van you will need special authorization, since the weight that the vehicle pulls increases considerably with the load of the horses. 

What travel equipment do I need to transport a horse?

As for travel equipment, the horse must wear the halter for the duration of the trip. Most experts suggest a leather halter (not nylon or rope). In an emergency, the leather is easy to cut. Depending on the weather during your trip, you may or may not need a blanket. Bumpers and leg guards can be very important. 


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