Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Is your trailer safe?

Last Friday I posted a blog about dressing your horse for travel.  Many of us have a trailer which we use to take our horses and ponies out and about.  Although these may have less potential problems than a horse box it is still important to keep them in tip top condition to ensure the safety of the passengers!

With this in mind there are some important checks you can carry out in addition to regular checks from a professional.  


  • You should remove the rubber mats and disinfect underneath.  While the mats are out and the floor is drying, check the condition of the floor.  Do this from above and  below even with metal floors!  Prod any 'suspect' areas with a screwdriver.  If the floor is not secure the horse could put a foot through whilst in transit! 
  • Check any surrounding metal work too. 

Doors and Ramps

  • Check the ramps are sound, replace any worn matting that might trip a horse or human. 
  • Check them for rot too in the same way as the floor. 
  • Make sure hinges and catches are secure and lubricated.  You don't want your groom's door swinging open whilst you are going along. 
  • On your ramp grease the point where the spring attaches to the ramp.


  • Trailers must have 2 white lights to the front and an illuminated number plate at the rear.  Ensure the lights are in working order and clean. You can remove the 'lenses' to clean inside. 
  • Check the indicator lights work individually as they often work on a separate circuit to the hazards! 
  • Clean the plug and car socket (where the electrics attach to the car) with a specialist product available from caravan delers.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Check all nuts and bolts and check that they are tight.  Especially those holding the hitch, wheels and axles on.  Don't force them though as this can cause damage.

Hitches and Towballs

  • Grease inside the hitch cup should be cleaned out occasionally with white spirit because it collects road dirt.  Use a paintbrush to get the white spirit inside.  Once it has dried smear the cup with new grease and then oil the moving parts. 
  • The housing behind the hitch (where the draw tube that works the brakes is) has one or two grease nipples.  Use a grease gun to put grease into these which will lubricate the sliding action.  Some have a grease nipple underneath too. 
  •  Check your towball for wear, many of them have an indicator as the hitch can wear them oval which can be dangerous as the trailer may break free!


  • Check the treads on your tyres as you would those on a car. 
  • Check for any cuts or wear too. 
  • Remember to check the tyre pressure on your trailer often.  These will affect the handling and stability of the trailer. 
  • Move the trailer at least once a month to avoid the tyres getting 'flat patches'.

Brakes, Wheel Bearings and Electrics

  • Unless you are knowledgeable get these checked by a professional. 
  • If the trailer is not being moved often then leave the brake off and put bricks or blocks of wood behind each tyre to avoid it rolling.  The brakes can get 'locked' on.

Keeping your trailer in tip top condition is essential.  If it is NOT used often then it is just as (if not more so) important to check it before you use it.  If you are not confident with any of the above checks then there are places that will do most of them for you.  Check with the manufacturer!

Top Tips

Every use:

  • Check tyre pressure and condition 
  • Check lights and indicators work 
  • Check for any loose fittings

Every 3 months:

  • Clean and re-grease the hitch cup 
  • Check the ramp condition 
  • Check the condition of wooden floors

Every 6 months:

  • Clean lights and contacts 
  • Check the condition of metal floors

Every 2500 - 3000 miles:

  •  Check brakes and brake shoe wear 
  • Grease drawbar nipples

Every 2 years:
  • Grease wheel bearings

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Until next time!

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