Safe Hauling

Haul your horses safely by properly distributing your load and maintaining a reasonable speed.

Haul your horses safely by properly distributing your load and maintaining a reasonable speed.

Check out Featherlite's horse trailers.
Check out Featherlite's horse trailers.

Featherlite Trailers understands the importance of traveling safely down the road with our horses. Exiss provides tips and suggestions for safe hauling on its Web site.

Here are a few tips to help you make your next hauling adventure a safe one.

Distribution of Load

There are three aspects to proper loading:

  1. The trailer should sit as close to level as possible when loaded, to allow for even weight distribution to the axles. Use a drop hitch on bumper pull trailers or adjust the gooseneck coupler.
  2. Distribute the load to ensure proper tongue weight. Since most horses do not weigh the same, the heavier horse should be put in front so tongue weight would stay over 10 percent of total weight.
  3. Know the trailer’s capacity. Do not overload the trailer. A typical three-horse trailer will safely hold three large horses and a reasonable amount of tack.

Tongue Weight

Tongue weight is a determining factor in trailer handling. Too little tongue weight causes sway or hitch disengagement from the ball. Too much tongue weight may exceed guidelines set out by the manufacturer of the tow vehicle and cause steering or suspension problems. A general guideline is that for bumper pull trailers, tongue weights should be 10-15 percent of trailer weight. Tongue weights less than 10 percent of trailer weight can cause stability problems. For goosenecks, tongue weight should be approximately 25 percent of trailer weight.

Get tack tips, training advice, event coverage and more each month with a subscription to The American Quarter Horse Journal.

Speed and Driving

Use extreme caution when pulling your trailer. Do not exceed the posted speed limits on the roads you are traveling. Be aware that traveling at higher speeds or hauling heavier loads will increase your stopping distance.

The most common trailer repairs stem from people forgetting they are pulling a trailer. It is easy to damage a nose sheet or vehicle by turning too sharply. It is also easy to damage running boards and fenders if you forget how wide your trailer is. You should also be aware of your turning radius to avoid clipping objects or damaging fenders and tires while turning. Position mirrors so that you have good visibility of the area around and behind the trailer.

While you should always check your brakes for proper function before a trip, a good rule of thumb is to drive as if you do not have trailer brakes. For your animals’ safety, brake gradually and navigate turns as smoothly as possible.

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23 thoughts on “Safe Hauling”

  1. Regarding safe hauling. When pulling a two horse bumper pull with one horse which side does the horse go on? The article did not address this.

  2. Carolyn,

    Our recommendation is to load the horse on the side from where it is easiest to unload. (This will depend on if there is an unload door.) This is for convenience. As far as load distribution and safety, a single horse can travel safely on either side of a two-horse straight-load Featherlite bumper pull and the tow will not be significantly affected.

    John K. Hall
    Director of Marketing Communications, Universal Trailer Corporation

  3. I always thought that if you were only hauling one horse you put them on the drivers side( of the trailer) due to most roads are usually high in the center for water run off. ?

  4. I always heard that too. That a single horse in a two horse trailer bumper pull should ride on drivers side considering the roads are higher on that side.

  5. The horse is to be placed on the drivers side. If you were to let your trailer wheels which are normally wider than the truck go off the shoulder of the road it is much easier and safer to bring it back on the road with out alot of swaying. Lives hard nox 101

  6. I always tie my horses so they don’t make an effort to drop their heads while trailer is in tow. This may be a problem if you have to brake suddenly and your horse is not fully upright.

  7. ALWAYS tie you horses. I will not haul for anyone unless they agree that their horse remains tied. I witnessed, once, the death of a horse resulting from not being properly restrained. The owner insisted that the colt was fine untied, and that he had been on several long trips without restraint. Unfortunately, not even five minutes away from departing, we watched from behind as the long yearling spooked, reared, and fell backwards with such force that the entire rig lurched. He ended up hitting the loading gate in such a way that he quickly broke his neck. He didn’t even struggle. Horrified, we stopped, ran, and found him stone dead, his head twisted to the wrong side. We suppose that the forward motion of the trailer forced him off balance as he spooked, and without being hooked up to anything, flipped backwards.

    I’ve also had several horses set back in a trailer after being tied. With the help of good halters, good tie rings, and trailer ties with panic snaps, they can throw all the fit they want without hitting the roof or falling and becoming cast.

  8. I guess I have a question for everyone else —

    How do you cope with tailgaters and “bullies” who just can’t seem to exercise some patience with those who are hauling livestock?

    Pulling over onto a shoulder was once commonly viewed as a courtesy here in Texas, and it seems that it’s become the norm. However, when I’m hauling on a two-lane road, I never, ever pull my rig onto the shoulder to allow someone to pass without checking for on-coming traffic, even though people act as if they expect me to. Am I doing the right thing?

  9. What is the correct position for hauling one horse in a three horse angle haul trailer, front or middle stall? My first thought is the center stall which would put some weight over the axles for braking and handling etc.

  10. I have a similar question, which I see was not answered above. I have a 3 horse angle haul trailer. Where do I put a single horse. My thought is at the front to give more tongue weight.

  11. I never tie my horses, for fear they will fall and break their neck. my horse has been everywhere fine untied. i would not trust her being tied. but i dont care about personal preferences with people and their horses.

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