There are five cheap-and-easy ideas to spruce up your horse trailer to keep it in working condition, make it comfortable for your horse, and retain its resale value.
Like any vehicle, your trailer should have an annual tune-up. "We encourage people to come in before spring for a safety check," Nancy Wilkerson, owner of Coast to Coast Trailers in Florida, says.
Investing in good tires is also important. "A good set of tires will reduce the chances of a blow-out or flat on the road," notes Kevin Schenk, owner of HorseWheels Trailer Sales in Brockport, NY.
Lights are the key component when it comes to safety. You must be able to see and be seen at all times. "Upgrading the taillights and marker lights will make your trailer safer," Schenk adds. "Other motorists will be able to see your trailer easier when it's well lit."
It's also easier when your trailer has a well-lit interior. "Cargo lights inside the trailer will make it easier for you to see inside to check your horse or get a piece of equipment," Schenk explains. "A well-lit trailer also will make it easier for horses to see and encourage them to load better at night."
Rubber Floor Mats
Selecting rubber floor mats for your trailer is dependent on the model and age. "Changing your mats to thicker, heavier floor mats will make the ride more comfortable for your horse," Schenk says. Thicker mats absorb more shock and can reduce fatigue for horses who are trailered long distances.
While nicer floor mats are more expensive, they'll greatly increase the resale value of your trailer down the line, and probably also boost your horse's comfort and health when trailering.
The outward appearance of a trailer plays a role both in your overall satisfaction with it and its perceived value. Sandpaper smoothes out rusty patches on steel trailers and prepares them for a layer of paint.
Aluminum trailers, on the other hand, don't rust-they oxidize. "We offer a wash that removes the oxidation and restores the shine of the trailer," Wilkerson says.
"I hate to say it, but pretty sells," notes Schenk. "When people are looking to purchase a new or used trailer, they want one that looks nice." Making an effort to keep up the outward appearance of your trailer can make you proud of the trailer you currently own, or it can help you get the most value for your trade-in later on.
Upgrading the inside of your trailer will make it easier to use and offer a nicer ride for your horse.
"A number of trailers-especially stock trailers-don't have a lining on the walls," Schenk explains. Horses can bump into or kick at the walls, damaging them or injuring themselves.
Purchase plywood at your local lumberyard as an inexpensive, quick fix. Lining the inside walls eliminates kick marks or dents made by an impatient horse. Rubber wall liners are another option, though may be more costly. The protective layer on the walls also can reduce injuries to any horse who leans against the walls for balance or who kicks out.
Add-on accessories can make a trailer easier to use. Where you live determines some of the goodies you may need. "In Florida, many people add fans on the hip side of the horses to move air through the trailer," Wilkerson notes. "Folks also add air conditioning to the dressing room."
Hay bags and trailer ties are the most commonly used accessories. They're available in a variety of styles and price levels to complement any budget.
"You have to be careful about what you add to the inside of a trailer," Schenk cautions. "I had one couple bring in a trailer to trade and they had made so many modifications to the gates they were cumbersome and difficult to use."
With the proper care and well-selected add-ons, your trailer can last many years. Safety and comfort for your horse are the first priority. Then routine maintenance and attention to cosmetics will help you retain a high resale value on your trailer.