When you ask your horse to step into the horse trailer, you are making an unspoken promise to your horse that it's a safe place to be. Here are a dozen rules that will help you live up to your word:
1. Inspect your trailer flooring, including the planks, beams and undercarriage, to make sure the floor is solid and safe.
2. Give your horse secure, non-slip footing by installing clean, rubber floor mats with a traction surface, making sure they fit the compartment snugly.
3. Check bulbs and wiring to make sure all your lights are working and that there are no shorts that could give your horse a mild shock. Carry extra fuses and bulbs.
4. Test and inspect your truck and trailer brakes, as well as the brake control box, to make sure your brakes are activating properly and are adjusted for the cargo load.
5. Check your truck and trailer tires with a gauge to ensure they are properly inflated.
6. Examine the tires for any signs of uneven wear, deterioration or damage to tread surfaces, valve stems, and sidewalls. Replace in pairs as needed and carry a spare in good repair.
7. When you hook up, double-check your hitch to make sure you've secured the locking mechanism, attached the safety chains, plugged in the lights, and attached the emergency breakaway cable.
8. Before you load your horses, inspect the interior for any potential hazards such as damaged partitions, frayed padding, or old hay or grain in the feed compartment.
9. Make sure windows and vents are adjusted properly to provide optimum airflow, but do not allow horses to hang their heads out of drop-down windows when in transit.
10. Secure butt bars, stall dividers and partitions, and make sure there is nothing inside the stall compartments that can rattle around and hurt or scare the horses.
11. If you tie your horses in the trailer, use ropes or straps equipped with quick-release snaps that will allow you to free your horse in case of an emergency.
12. Before you pull out of your driveway, set your parking brake and walk completely around your rig one more time to make sure doors and windows are latched and everything is as it should be. Do this again every time you stop for fuel or to take a break.